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Qatar plans BIM implementation for smart infrastructure to be a smart city, but is it sustainable?



Dubai and Doha top the list for cities with the “smartest” buildings; however, more than half of those surveyed in the region had only limited connectivity and integration of building systems says a recent survey conducted of buildings across the Middle East.

The survey suggests, the average smart building score in the Middle East was 48 out of a possible 100. 

  • Average building score in Doha was 70, more than 20 points above the regional average. The average score in Dubai was 65.
  • Abu Dhabi came third, with a score of 48.The report said that overall, the region’s airports are leading the way with smart building technologies, with an average score of 80.
  • Hotels had an average score of 57, followed by hospitals at 56, retail at 52 and private offices at 46.

Key Drivers of a Smart City

Human capital, Social capital and ICT are the key drivers of Smart City. And at the end of the day, this crusade has to be seen against the predominant theme of sustainable economic development. Qatar, with its vision for 2030, is going to be one of the key Gulf players in heading towards the goal of smart cities. Ample understanding of such significant rudiments of Smart City Management can only be accomplished when they are put up against the concept of a tangible contemporary city.

For instance, Doha has set a prominent example as a major city based on its locus in the Global Energy market that has led to a roar in its development plans and its consequent resource requirements. With data being the new byword in a post-oil consequence, Doha’s firsthand urbanism is relevant more than ever for Qatar’s 2030 vision. Bound by political assurance and with economic resources at its command, Qatar is building a new urban development brand. This makeover of ‘Dohaization’ is a carefully hewed one.  

Qatar’s Investment and Smart city Goals

Qatar plans to invest $200bn in infrastructure development over the next 10 years, according to the managing director of Qatar Financial Centre. IT also plans to invest $140bn over the next five years in projects such as a new airport, a new seaport and a rail and metro system.

Qatar’s investment benefits the whole region, not just Qatar itself,” said Abdulrahman Al Shaibi. This is not even half of the information on investment. It’s spending Billions of dollars on its major construction projects in Qatar. Doha metro line is the cherry on the cake. However, with so much of new-build plans one has to see how it affects the existing structures. The ambitious Qatar projects are fancy and perfectly tech-savvy, but are they sustainable? 

Adopting BIM for Smart City

Qatar’s environmental record has been improving over the past several years, but it is still among the top consumers of productive land and water, states a new report from the World Wildlife Fund.  With Its 2030 vision and its baby steps towards advanced infrastructure, the concern still remains of sustainability.  Qatar needs to address the issue of sustainability degree  and cost-effectiveness along with smart city ambition.

Pondering about what can balance between “Smart” and “Tech” is BIM. In spite of BIM adoption being pretty slow across UAE, there has been quite an awareness as well as apprehension in using it for complex or mega Construction Projects. BIM can be defined as a key force towards “Smart City” dream. Let’s understand that is not a mere product but a coordination process, which would give you fair performing assets, and is unquestionably critical for creating a smart City. What can BIM do for “Smart” Buildings?

Why BIM integration

Lately, the concern regarding Energy Saving and emission reduction, as well as sustainable development has been at the heart of construction industry and thus, the functionality and quality of buildings are changing compared to existential structures. The challenge is to match the pace at which construction industry is shifting. With regards to this, Building Information Modeling (BIM) has emerged as a savior for building Smart cities. BIM solutions are becoming more advanced and are considered to be playing major role in addressing aforementioned issues. BIM, Internet, Cloud Computing and other advanced information expertise, provide important support to smart construction.

BIM Improves Life cycle of project and in asset management

During the construction of conventional buildings, a lot of problems, including Planning, Design, Construction, Operation and Maintenance, etc., are unpredictable, and are also the drawbacks of conventional construction techniques. BIM Software has come to the rescue. If you look at the project life-cycle of any infrastructure project, you have several teams working on it. One may be looking after planning while the other after designing, and then someone for construction and it goes on.

Now when you go by traditional building processes, some valuable asset knowledge is lost every time they exchange information or pass on the project to other teams. You end up wasting money at each step. Here is where BIM is your magic wand.  BIM breaks down these barricades by taking on information mobility, making everybody use the same set of standards and processes. As a result, your asset knowledge steadily increases over the life-cycle of the project. That will benefit everyone in near future.

Blend BIM with Geospatial industry to enrich data that benefits smart infra

Just like BIM, with its origins in 3D modelling, has developed from the domains of construction and architecture, Geospatial technology has been functioning in the asset management space for many years. It is quite evident that there are prospects to take the best of both to attain better outcomes for everyone.

Considering this more closely, geospatial and geomatics data can have a major effect on all phases of construction. Professional surveyors use laser scanning tactics such as Scan to BIM to create BIM models, an accurately map the existing site condition.

Point cloud geomatics data can be used during construction to record what has actually happened on site, compared to indistinct as-built drawings. Similarly, regular surveys during construction, operation and maintenance with the help of drones, monitors the development of site, thereby foretelling any hazardous or restricted conditions that can happen on-site 

Can a Smart City be Sustainable?

There is a connection between Smart City data and BIM data, mutually providing data about our built environment meant for advance use in operations, maintenance and performance management . The skill to measure ‘in service’ performance and match it to ‘as briefed’ and ‘as delivered’ assets is itself a leading opportunity to improve both asset costs and carbon performance, e.g. through condition-based maintenance.

The fancy Airports, Malls and tech savvy infra system may look glamorous, but what is to contemplate is, are they sustainable? Infrastructure is the glutton of energy, it can make your city smart and technology advanced but it shouldn’t be at the cost of sustainability.

Integrating BIM solutions will not only save cost and time, but also tons of resources wasted behind a single project. Lean BIM construction can help you cut down on your resources and save tons on your equipment. It is advisable to perform LEAN construction process while building any structure, to converse as much as possible.

Qatar plans BIM implementation for smart infrastructure to be a smart city, but is it sustainable?

About the Author: Bhushan Avsatthi is a BIM expert, a certified Sustainable Building advisor, and an associate director with more than 15 years of industry experience. He leads a team of architects, Structural & MEP engineers, LEED consultants and energy modelers. Bhushan strives to make his organization a cohesive resource for sustainable building design. He regularly participates in green initiatives like tree plantations, and promotes using bicycles for everyday commute.

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