BIM Property Server

With Building Information Modeling (BIM), all data that accrues in the course of the life cycle of a construction project will be collected and provided to all involved agents, from the idea for the project to the planning, the construction, the operation, and the utilization of the resources after the demolition.

For this purpose, we work intensely on a standardization and internationalization of the properties in use, with their dimensions, units, responsibilities and dependencies on the project phase. As part of two cooperation projects with Tyrolean companies and the institute for “Project and Construction Management - i3b“, a publicly accessible web-application was developed, to carry out the standardization for BIM in Austria, in collaboration with the Austrian Standards Institute (ASI).

Thereby, the data is populated by experts of the ASI-workgroup, it is discussed online and subsequently released. This released data is provided free of charge to all interested parties through the web-application, and it is also machine-readable via a web-service. It is stored in a graph database, which proved successful because of its flexible and intuitive organization in the heterogeneously assembled cooperation of architects, engineers and computer scientists.

Questions that arise in practice, such as “Which properties of a door must be provided by an architect for a plan of fire prevention in the course of an administrative submission”, thus can be answered – and in the future even be the basis for a contract of services. Meanwhile, this application known as the “ASI-PropertyServer” is at the heart of the ÖNORM A 6241-2.

With the freeBIM-PropertyServer, a system was established for a prepared discussion for the standardization as well as for the public retrieval of GUID- standardized components for the first time in Austria. The freeBIM-PropertyServer is already used by the Austrian Standards Institute (ASI) as the ASI-PropertyServer (therefore, both terms are used as synonyms in the following). DBIS develops and hosts the property server within the frame of the freeBIM-project in Tyrol.

With the buildingSMART Data Dictionary (bsDD) a global, open to read database is provided, in which all objects of the construction industry and their properties are archived. These objects and properties receive a GUID (Globally Unique Identifier) and can therefore be distinctly referenced and used for all languages of the world. Because of the uniqueness it is possible for the first time, to resort back to standardized terms in the building industry and to mechanically process these across platforms. However, the bSDD is much more than just an accumulation of data. The information that is archived there, is linked through relations. Next to the terminology, there is also information available about which object has which property to which extent („dimensions“) and in which unit.

To obtain this uniqueness, the terms, object and property must be collected nationally, discussed, allocated and released by the national standard institutes. Subsequently, new or existing, by all means globally unique GUIDs can be allocated in a reconciliation with the bSDD. These then are provided globally to the public through the bSDD, or locally through the national standardization databases. For this process of discussion, the online-database was developed by the freeBIM-Tirol project in collaboration with the ASI.

At the moment, all members of the ÖNORM-committee can write to the ASI-PropertyServer and thereby create and discuss new concepts (objects and properties). After the release and GUID-assignments, standardized entries in the online-database are public, and they can automatically be utilized and integrated into applications via the APIs. These entries apply as the ÖNORM A 6241-2 standard in Austria.

Entries into the bSDD, that should become a part of the ÖNORM, are carried out exclusively through the ASI-PropertyServer in Austria. Companies can become a member in the correspondent ÖNORM-committee and receive rights to propose and to write in the discussion part of the ASI-PropertyServer, and therefore add their descriptions of components and standardize them. The utilization and retrieval is free for all, because the public availability is essential criteria of acceptance for the applicability of the BIM-technology and a condition of the freeBIM projectCompanies that already have a big data stock, face the challenge to align their company-owned standards with the international standards, to become “BIM-capable”. Thereby, it has to do with the alignment or the adoption of the bSDD-GUIDs, instead of the company-owned identifiers (IDs) for all components (subjects) and their properties. Thus, it is important, that the retrieval and the values are machine readable.

The same path and the same software can also be applied for standard institutes of other countries. The multilingualism of the user interface is therefore being worked on and is already carried out for German, English, French and Spanish. Contents can already be inserted in German and English.

The ASI-PropertyServer was developed with the goal to be able to distinctly define referenceable objects and properties for the construction industry, and to subsequently align these “Austrian” objects and properties with the buildingSMART-Data-Dictionary, and then to receive a unique GUID for every object and every property. GUIDs are only generated by the bSDD. At the alignment, it is examined, whether these or similar objects are already existing, or if there is only an assimilation of name. The most important goal is, not to assign different GUIDs to translations and synonyms. These GUID-entries, which are retrievable in the bSDD, then get spooled back into the ASI-PropertyServer and are provided as ÖNORM-standardized entries. In the bSDD, alongside many public and non-public contexts, there is a public context called „freeBIM-DACH“, which contains German-German, German-Austrian and German-Swiss. The ASI-PropertyServer contains the context German-Austrian.

Of course, there is a multitude of properties, which are referenced by multiple objects. Therefore, if necessary, the objects, which share the same subset of properties are in turn combined to objects in the database and so, a hierarchic structure is developed in which the properties of objects are passed on to the objects that are lower in the hierarchy. For instance, the objects “door” and “roof” automatically receive all properties of the object “buildings-elements” which is higher up in the hierarchy. This object, in turn, receives all properties of the upstream object „element“, and so on.

Each property is thereby assigned to an object from a certain project phase. Because of this definition it will be possible in the future, to on the one hand confine the data overload, which has to be edited by a contributor in a process, to exactly the extent which is needed in the project phase. On the other hand, it can be examined, whether all required data is available for a certain project phase.



Georg Fröch, Werner Gächter, Arnold Tautschnig and Günther Specht: Merkmalserver im Open-BIM-Prozess. In Bautechnik. 2019

Günther Specht and Rainer Breuss: Der freeBIM Merkmalserver. In Beton-Kalender, vol. 1, pages 363-366. 2018