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Federal Agencies Collaborate with Web-based Building Information Models

Web-based BIM collaboration among Federal Agencies was highlighted by associations in March 2016. Facility asset management advancements by DoD, VA, OMB, US Navy, NIBS and private contractors were presented and demonstrated.

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Federal Agencies Collaborate with Web-based Building Information Models

  1. 1. Federal Agencies Collaborate with Web Based Building Information Models A Presentation Hosted by Federal Real Property Association / Asset Leadership Network FEDiFM and SEPS2BIM Award Winning Web-based Use of Building Information Models Washington, D.C., March 22, 2016 - Holland and Knight was the host of a presentation on award- winning FEDiFM and SEPS2BIM web-based processes for data sharing using Building Information Models to assist all phases of a building lifecycle. Panelists from the Department of Veterans Affairs, from the Office of Management and Budget, National Institute of Building Science and private contractors described their move toward web-based business processes leveraging Building Information Models. The FED iFM initiative is the overarching program for integrating facility management tasks using web- based processes and Building Information Models. SEPS2BIM securely places the government’s existing Space Equipment Planning System data on the web with visualizations of spaces and equipment using Building Information Models. The presentation was hosted by the Federal Real Property Association in recognition of the Asset Leadership Network’s Federal Agency Collaboration Award for the FED iFM and SEPS2BIM initiatives. It was intended to inform other Agencies how they can also benefit from the existing processes developed with funds from the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans of Veterans Affairs through the National Institute of Building Sciences with support from the Office of Management and Budget , US Navy and private contractors. Video highlights are available at: The full video of the event is available at: (The full video is tagged so viewers can “jump” to the different sections they want to see.) Panelists included from right to left (standing) Henry Green, President, NIBS; Kimon Onuma, President, ONUMA, Inc., Renée Tietjen, a Senior Architect with the VA; Jim Dieter, President, ALN; Dan Chandler, MAX,gov Shared Services Program Manager.
  2. 2. Tom Fukuda of the Federal Real Property Association said, “This is another in a series of monthly events that we hold to bring together people from the public and private sector in the Federal Real Property arena. One of the things we like to do in the Federal Real Property Association is partner with other organizations with a similar cause. Thanks to the Asset Leadership Network.” Jim Dieter, Executive Director of the Asset Leadership Network, said, “This is award program is perfect example of what we are trying to do – bring forward great ideas and share information within and across sectors and outside the normal boundaries we find ourselves working in.” He added that the SEPS2BIM initiative is “an excellent example of what can be accomplished” using an advanced asset management systems approach. Henry Green, President of the National Institute of Building Sciences acknowledged the leadership of the DoD and VA in developing a web-based facility asset management system that can be used by other Federal Agencies and the private sector as well. Mr. Green said, “The largest health care owners across the country are looking to improve their delivery of services to the private sector. This is one methodology they can employ.” According to Kimon Onuma, President of ONUMA, Inc., the SEPS2BIM approach to securely place data on the web meets White House requests for more access to government information. This approach takes information out of “black box” software programs that only allow a limited group of experts to access data. A web-based approach separates data in a secure server and serves the data through secure services to specific software applications that allow different professionals to access the data sets they need to do their jobs. “You are not troubled to understand the full complexity of the software in the background. You push buttons and you get information,” Onuma said comparing this approach to Yelp and other commercial web-based systems that are transforming the commercial business sector. The use of World Wide Web open standards and the buildingSMART alliance’s open National BIM Standard power the processes, according to Onuma. He later showed the ease of the process in a demonstration that can be replicated by anyone. The SEPS2BIM initiative allows real time data starting in excel to be turned into 2D and 3D visuals that can be used on mobile devices to bring advanced benefits enjoyed by the private industry to Government business processes.
  3. 3. Renée Tietjen, Senior Architect, VA BIM Program Manager with the Department of Veterans Affairs made a powerful connection between facility assets and assets in general. “A medical facility is the largest piece of medical equipment that the VA, or any health organization, owns,” said Tietjen to emphasize the importance of paying as much attention to medical facility assets as to medical equipment assets, which SEPS2BIM allows. Tietjen said, “We have had a really nice relationship with the Department of Defense Health Agency in creating a system that does provide us value” in improving the planning and management of facilities and equipment assets. “Part of what we tried to do is figure out how to eliminate wasteful activities,” she said. The SEPS2BIM initiative helps eliminate waste by generating data once in the planning phase and allowing others to use that data in different phases of a project lifecycle. Facility Managers use the data, as do logistics people who maintain and track medical equipment and others can benefit from the information that comes from the Space and Equipment Planning System. Putting that data on the web makes it accessible to more people and helps eliminate the wasteful activities of multiple people having to generate and manage separate data sets, according to Tietjen. More than 40 people attended the event at Holland and Knight’s Washington D.C. seminar space. “One of the elements that is critically important about the SEPS2BIM platform, it sets the stage for what we name things that can then be used in other ways,” Onuma said, noting that once naming conventions are consistent, the data can be accurately used in many ways.
  4. 4. Brandon Simons a Project Manager with the Department of Defense Health Agency said, “Our data was segmented in PDFs and was not able to be shared across agencies. Now the data is secure and can be seen. We went to and said we needed applications with authentications so our data is secure and the agencies can log in and see each other’s data. Dr. Russ Manning (of the DHA) has been leading this initiative for several years and is a big proponent of the platform and shared services across agencies.” Simons noted one agency that had a data set last updated in 2009. He said it is now updated daily. “Having the most live and accurate data so you can plan and create your budget accordingly helps cut down time to market so you can outfit and deliver facilities much quicker,” Simons stated as just one benefit. Dan Chandler, Program Manager explained the current approach to providing secure data services to Federal Agencies, “We want to build IT resources as shared services, build once make it available to all.” Using a Service Oriented Architecture approach common in private sector data sharing processes, can provide “tech agnostic” services that builds multiple, discrete functions that serves data to different professionals in a useful manner. Private companies that have already begun participating in the SEPS2BIM initiative on a voluntary basis include Trimble SketchUp, Attainia, Grapisoft and BIMobject. Shahid Shah, President of Netspective Communications and a key consultant said, “We have the supply side going, now we need the demand side for federal government to open up more.” According to Shah, more requests for this type of access to data from Government Agencies and the public will dramatically improve government services. “The next generation thinking is going to unlock the data and do things that we cannot even dream of,” Shah said.
  5. 5. Tietjen concluded the event by saying, “The technology is there, it is really an owner management problem related to how these data management systems work. We have many systems in all of our organizations, but for various reasons, we don’t look at those systems as systems. We look at them as component pieces. One of the biggest impediments to making things work better is that we live in the past related to how our organizations are structured. And it is only when we change those structures to acknowledge we are living in a new paradigm and we have to look in a different way how we manage how we respond to these data streams that we will be truly successful.” The Asset Leadership Network points to the ISO 55000 asset management systems standard as one way of looking at systems to provide dramatic benefits and recognizes the FED iFM and SEPS2BIM initiatives as demonstrating key ways to improve Federal asset management in a repeatable manner. (End) For more information contact: Michael Bordenaro Asset Leadership Network, Communications Team Leader buildingSMART alliance, Thought Leadership Team Secretary 312 307 3732 The excellent VA / DoD introductory video played to launch the presentation is available at