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Digital Twins need Information Management using BIM for the Built Environment

nima (formerly UK BIM Alliance) has a vision, to create a built environment sector that is transformed by being able to exploit purpose driven data. Anyone who is familiar with the UK’s standards for BIM, from the original British Standards suite to the new ISO and UK BIM Framework, understands that BIM has always been about life cycle information management – making sure organisations have a defined process for specifying, procuring, delivering, assuring, storing, presenting, and exploiting whole life information. nima are not leaving BIM behind, but they are evolving how they describe it.

Digital twins (digital world and physical world) for operating and maintaining the built environment need information management using BIM. Information management using BIM is a key foundation for enabling structured and interoperable data – a primary fuel from the “As Designed Model” and “As Built Model” for digital twins.

Based on: The University of Sheffield AMRC


Information Management (IM) Frameworks

IM frameworks aim to establish the building blocks that are necessary to enable effective management of 3D models, data, and documents, and deliver structured interoperable data across the built environment lifecycle.  IM frameworks enable secure, resilient interoperability of data, which is at the heart of digital twins. It is a reference point to facilitate data use in line with security, legal, commercial, privacy and other relevant trustworthy needs.

The Pathway Towards an Information Management Framework: A Commons for a Digital Built Britain, sets out the technical approach for the development of an Information Management Framework (IMF) to enable secure, resilient data sharing across the built environment.  The publication of the report by the former Centre for Digital Built Britain is a key step towards a National Digital Twin. To guide the development of the IMF, nine values were set out by the Centre for Digital Built Britain. These values are known as the Gemini Principles.

  • Purpose – Digital Twins must provide benefit to the general public, enable improvement in performance while creating value and must provide real insight into the built environment.
  • Trust – This is a major part of the idea behind the National Digital Twin. A Digital Twin must enable security and be secure, it must be as open and transparent as possible, and built using legitimately good-quality data.
  • Function – A digital twin must function effectively. A federation of digital twins must be based on a standard connected environment, there must be clear ownership of the twin, as well as clear governance and regulation. There is also a requirement for digital twins to adapt as the available technology continuously evolves.

A related IM framework is the UK BIM Framework (GIIG) Information Management Platform (IMP). The IMP sets out the steps organisations can take to develop a portfolio level digital information management strategy that can be progressively assembled from existing, and, if necessary, new enterprise systems, to capture and maintain an ISO 19650 compliant asset information model for each of its assets. The IMP can assist in an organisation, where relevant, in meeting stated government construction policy aims, namely, those contained in the Construction Playbook and Transforming Infrastructure Performance: Roadmap to 2030. An IMP is a cornerstone for the development of digital twins and future connected national digital twins.

Information Management Using BIM

Information Management (IM) is the process by which an organisation specifies, procures, receives, assures, stores (via a system of record) and presents its data to perform its core business across asset lifecycle activities. IM using BIM can occur without strict adherence to IM frameworks, but greatly benefits from its structure and process. IM using BIM is enabled by the application of information management frameworks and supports the development of trusted data for digital twins and future connected digital twins.

Accuracy, completeness, uniqueness, validity, timeliness, and consistency are all qualities of 3D models, data and documents that is enabled by the effective use of information management.

  • Accuracy – 3D models, data and documents are correct in all details and is a true record of the entity it represents.
  • Completeness – 3D models, data and documents have all or the necessary attribute values relative to its intended purpose.
  • Uniqueness – a single representation exists for each entity or activity.
  • Validity – 3D models, data and documents conform to all standards expected.
  • Timeliness – 3D models, data and documents are easily accessed or available when required and is up to date.
  • Consistency – an entity that is represented in more than one data store can be easily matched.

1Spatial works with organisations across the built environment to ensure all the above qualities of data, enabled by the effective use of automated information management.

Business Operations

Business operations is the process of using trusted data and information to carry out organisational functions. Organisations responsible for the built environment use data and information to measure, model, monitor and manage.

Digital Twins

Digital Twins involves business model innovation, and operational improvement organisational changes. IM typically provides structured and accurate data from “As Designed Models” and “As Built Models” to support the adoption of digital twins for operational improvements. Digital twins are used to improve measuring, modelling, monitoring, and managing/maintaining the built environment.

An IM framework enabled by the application of information management using BIM supports the development of trusted data for built environment operational improvements and digital twins.



IM frameworks, IM using BIM and digital twins are symbiotic.

An IM framework needs IM using BIM and IM needs an IM framework to support the development of trusted data. Digital twins need both IM frameworks and IM using BIM to succeed and enable great things to happen.

Author: Matthew White, Head of Built Environment, 1Spatial 


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