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Digital advances

Bentley Systems Year in Infrastructure 2019 had all the elements of awe and knowledge, thus making people future-ready

Greg Bentley Often made a point of how Bentley Systems is going digital with Digital Twin.
Greg Bentley Often made a point of how Bentley Systems is going digital with Digital Twin.

Few companies would organise an entire event to celebrate and demonstrate what its customers are doing. Bentley Systems has gone that one leap ahead. Not strangely, the company is able to demonstrate its tools at work in real world applications. In keeping with its tradition, the company kicked off its Year in Infrastructure 2019 Conference, “Advancing BIM through Digital Twins,” from October 21-24 at the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore, after concluding last year’s successful event in London. The Marina Bay Sands makes an ideal location to host an infrastructure conference considering the grandeur of the place and location.

With an elaborate agenda planned for each day, Bentley Systems had every kind of information and knowledge sharing sessions thus making it for a fruitful day. As if attracting a crowd of over 1,400 from over 130 countries was not enough, Bentley Systems ensured that it had plenty of announcements and tie-ups to announce that would excite the guests, most of who already use its applications and software globally.

For some time now, the company had been stressing that digital is the future. It amplified that this year by announcing initiatives with Digital Twin and merging it with its existing software for Project Delivery. The concept of ‘digital twins’ ran through this year’s edition of Bentley’s Year In Infrastructure.

In his keynote, Greg Bentley, CEO, Bentley Systems, said, “Digital is the only way forward. On our part, we will always be further connecting, automating and improving better digital workflows. At this juncture, we can say that we are advancing BIM through 4D digital twins. So far, our endeavours has been software to ensure useful deliverables, but they have been for a purpose. The objective of digital twins is to make the value of those deliverables endure over the longevity of the project and the asset, and to have “evergreen” visibility into what has been dark engineering data, to synchronise its changes over time and open up this dark data for immersive visualisation and the visibility of analytics. We don’t have digital twins for the sake of having digital twins. We have them to accomplish, enable and facilitate new digital workflows to improve infrastructure engineering.”

YII 2019 was attended by 1400 delegates.

Incidentally, the conference also leads to the awards on the concluding day wherein months before, the company invited twelve independent jury panels of industry experts to select 54 finalists from 571 nominations submitted by more than 440 user organisations in more than 60 countries.

Partners help
Every year, YII includes an annual executive keynote and comprehensive technology update, six industry-focused forums – for rail and transit, roads and bridges, utilities and water, buildings and campuses, digital cities, and industrial – and the Be Inspired Awards for BIM Advancements in 17 project categories. In addition, there are guest keynote speakers from Atos, Microsoft, Siemens, and Topcon, plus more than 100 speakers across 50+ sessions.

On Day One, Bentley Systems and Topcon Positioning Systems announced that their new, jointly owned company — Digital Construction Works  — is open for business. Digital Construction Works has a global staff of digital construction experts and provides digital automation, integration and “twinning” services around a portfolio of fit-for-purpose software and cloud services from Topcon, Bentley, and other software vendors. The venture was created to realise the “breakthrough potential of constructioneering” for industrialising construction. Ray O’Connor, president and CEO of Topcon Positioning Systems, said, “The creation of Digital Construction Works aligns with our focus of helping the industry meet infrastructure demands through technological innovations. Through the new organisation, companies will have the opportunity to integrate hardware and software capabilities to more quickly and efficiently adopt new technology for more rapid productivity improvements.”

Similarly, the company also announced the acquisition of global mobility simulation and analytics software provider Citilabs and 3D and mobile mapping software provider Orbit Geospatial Technologies. The acquisitions will be used alongside Bentley’s existing design integration and digital cities offerings to enable “engineering-based mobility digital twins“. Robert Mankowski, vice-president for digital cities, Bentley Systems, said, “Mobility is a priority opportunity for city digital twins because too often existing planning and simulation efforts are disconnected from the infrastructure’s engineering reality.”

Keith Bentley, founder and chief technology officer, said, “The pace of digital twin era is accelerating. The early adopters we’ve worked with are already staking out leadership positions in the new digital twin economy, towards innovations in both their business processes and their business models.”

Bhupinder Singh.

At the same time, Bentley announced the availability of iModel Bridge for IFC, a generic IFC bridge that enables Bentley’s iModels to consume IFC geometry and business data. iModels are specialised containers for infrastructure information. Bhupinder Singh, Bentley’s chief product officer, said: “Bentley is committed to supporting the best implementation of IFC for digital twins. We are committed to openness, and in fact we’re making plans to open source iModel Bridge for IFC. The combination of IFC support and open source principles should give the community confidence that they can create and curate digital twins without being boxed in by dark data.”

For long, citizens have often complained about the lack of knowledge and information available to them about construction and infrastructure and the benefits of its work to citizens. So, when Bentley Systems announced that Ayesha Khanna, co-founder and CEO of ADDO AI, an artificial intelligence advisory firm and incubator, would be speaking at Year in Infrastructure, she was met with much delight. She di not fail the audience. She began with, “how technology should not be thrust on people, but instead consider the problem at hand. There’s a dire need to attend to each and every citizen and technology will show you how it can be done.The entire of a smart city, and one I particularly like to point out is Singapore, is that data, the cloud and artificial intelligence (AI), are seeing a blur as far as their boundaries are concerned. It is important to bring your people along as you introduce these new technologies. This eases the transition. One of the unintended consequences of AI is that it provides great power, which must be governed with great responsibility through standards, regulations, frameworks, data privacy, cybersecurity, ethics of algorithms, accounting and transparency.”

Ayesha Khanna's scintillating talk had the audience spellbound.

Announcements galore
There were other significant announcements made during the course of the week. Bentley Systems, Incorporated, announced new capabilities for its industry-leading ProjectWise collaboration platform and comprehensive expansion of its SYNCHRO 4D construction environment. New ProjectWise 365 cloud services, leverages Microsoft 365 technology and office productivity tools, extend the reach, affordability, and accessibility of BIM and infrastructure design data for organisations of all sizes. In addition, with Bentley’s new SYNCHRO cloud services, contractors can 4D-visualise design data and construction models for project and field management, advanced work packaging, and Microsoft HoloLens 2 augmented reality solutions.

It also introduced new digital twin services for asset and network performance. AssetWise Digital Twin Services converge digital context, digital components, and digital chronology to provide immersive visualisation and advanced analytics for enhanced decision support and improved performance of infrastructure assets. Alan Kiraly, senior vice president, asset and network performance for Bentley Systems, said, “Through the accessibility of cloud and web services, and our open-source platform for immersive visualization and analytics visibility, AssetWise Digital Twin Services will enable all AssetWise users, and new users, to broaden the benefits of going digital more comprehensively.”

There are also new additions and updates to its open modeling applications and open simulation applications to advance engineering digital twins throughout asset lifecycles. Bentley’s open applications enable collaborative, iterative, and automated digital workflows spanning infrastructure professional disciplines. Now, with new digital twin cloud services, they extend business value and actionable insights throughout the construction and operations phases of an infrastructure asset.

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