BIM Database Long Tail

In the GIS world the database part of GIS files is the power. I would wager the average GIS Analyst spends more time editing, calculating, transforming the GIS database more than they do the editing of the points/lines/polygons. The first thing I did working with GIS files is open the table to see what I have (or don’t have) for data.

One of the key aspects to BIM is the database. In the hands of an Architect, the database takes a back seat but tools such as Revit make sure that everything that is placed has detailed information about it stored in a database. It isn’t Revit though, IFC, CityGML and other formats treat the database as an important part of a BIM model. But when we share BIM models, the focus is always on the exterior of the model and not the data behind it.

Aqua Tower, Chicago, IL inside Cityzenith SmartWorld

One thing I’ve focused on here at Cityzenith since I joined as the CTO is pulling out the power from BIM models and expose them to users. As someone who is used to complex GIS databases I’m amazed at how much great data is locked in these BIM formats unable to be used by planners, engineers and citizens. I talked last week about adding a command line to Cityzenith so that users can get inside datasets and getting access to BIM databases is no exception.

That’s why we’re going to expose BIM databases the same way we expose SQL Server, Esri ArcGIS and other database formats. When you drag and drop BIM models into Cityzenith that have databases attached them you will be prompted to transform them with our transformation engine. BIM has always been treated as a special format that is locked up and kept only in hands of special users. That’s going to change, we are going to break out BIM from its protected silo and expose the longest of long tails in the spatial world, the BIM database.

I’ve always said Spatial isn’t Special and we can also say BIM isn’t Special.


Dave Bouwman on the GIS Long Tail

Link – The GIS Longtail – Google, MSN, Yahoo and ESRI

The idea that Google/MSN/Yahoo is bad news for ESRI is based solely on the whiz-bang-flash of the new mass awakening to the fact that things can be put on a map. Anyone who thinks that Google is going to extend Google Earth to the point of enabling a city to manage it’s parcel base is delirious. Apart from the fact that it’s very difficult, there is no benefit to them. While Google does have a staff of geniuses, this does not mean they can simply whip up a full fledged professional GIS system. As for ESRI – I think they can only benefit from the increased attention paid to mapping in general, and GIS in particular. Once the public really starts to “get” maps, ESRI will be well positioned to facilitate “doing” something with the map – besides just plotting a point location.

Bouwman longtail

Dave Bouwman has just written a great article on the relationship between Google/Microsoft, ESRI and GIS as a whole. Dave hits it right on the head with ArcGIS vs Google Earth (or similar “consumer GIS” programs). Some have said that ArcGIS is the world’s largest software application built with Microsoft’s COM and while that may or may not be true, the plain fact is that ArcGIS has so many tools at the ready and these tools have decades of development behind them, that Google/Microsoft would be very hard pressed to compete. Now at the consumer end, that is a different story and it may be that GE and MapPoint eventually close the gap toward being a low end GIS tool, but even then you have to wonder about the quality of analysis that these tools may give the user given the lack of experience with GIS.

Time will tell, but as Dave points out so well in his post, Google Earth and ArcGIS are aimed at two very different markets and there is almost no overlap between them.