City Information Modeling


Now that building information modeling (BIM) has been firmly established in the AEC industry for the design, construction, and operation of individual buildings, and infrastructure modeling—also referred to as “BIM for infrastructure”—is starting to gain some traction for the design, construction, and operation of infrastructure, we are also seeing some movement towards applying the intelligent modeling concept to the next broader level of human habitation, the city.

While we are still a long way off from having “city information models” (CIM) available for our cities, various technology solutions for it are emerging, from BIM stalwarts such as Autodesk and Bentley to CIM-specific solutions from companies such as virtualcitySYSTEMS, Cityzenith, SmarterBetterCities, CyberCity 3D, and Agency9, of of which are discussed in this article. It also looks at how CIM is different from the concept of “Smart Cities” that we are increasingly starting to hear more about.


5 thoughts on “City Information Modeling

  1. This is a very exciting development and shows how quickly ideas from BIM are finding value in CIM (and perhaps vice-versa as these models become linked). To understand what can be done with CIM, we need to know what questions can be asked and answered from a CIM model. Clearly, 3D visualization is just a start as it was for BIM. In addition to planning and simulation issues (traffic, energy, emergencies, etc.), I found myself thinking of real-time applications that could be used by people who monitor a city (police, fire, energy, flooding, etc.). Are CIM models able to adapt to real-time functions? In the BIM world, this is like linking the BIM model to building control systems and FM requirements.

    I look forward to updates on this topic.

  2. That 2005 AECbytes article “Hurricanes and their Aftermath: How Can Technology Help?” was seminal to the lauching of CIM acronym. The logic presented there was so provocative I decided to explore the theme on my actual MSc thesis, where I consider CIM’s potential as ‘modeling’ rather than ‘model’. My starting point takes into consideration what Dr. Teicholz has just pointed above, that is CIM a city’s lifecycle set of processes, systems and policies, just as BIM is for the building’s lifecycle. In fact, this is my hypothesis: could BIM broad ontology be adapted to some sort of CIM ontolgy?

    The difference, in this case, between CIM and “Smart City” would not be the scale of approach, but the ontology. In other words, CIM would be the backbone of a Smart City, or something like that.

    I would appreciate your thoughts about this approach.

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