Bentley Systems has kicked off its annual Year in Infrastructure (YII) conference with a succession of new products, acquisitions and partnerships.
In a rapid fire press conference on Monday morning, Greg and Keith Bentley unveiled a series of key announcements to kick off the Year In Infrastructure 2018 conference, taking place across the London Hiltons, Metropole and Paddington.
CEO Greg Bentley outlined his vision of the concept of digital twins as they relate to infrastructure’s lifecycle in a philosophical, almost reflective tone before revealing the conference theme, based around the deceptively simple slogan ‘Going Digital’.
“You might have a 3D model for an infrastructure asset. If you did have one, it’s digital — do you think it’s a twin? The odds are against that — considering the differences, as built and as maintained,” he said.
“And if you did create a physical representation with scanning, for instance, that would lack the understanding and explanatory power that a digital twin should have. So those are fairly formidable challenges — but I think that we’ll be talking now about digital twins every time we get together, because here at Bentley Systems, we’ve surmounted all of those challenges,” he said.
Headlining the list of announcements was iTwin services, a package of cloud services that contains distinct functionality sets for both infrastructure projects, which they call ‘project digital twins’, and infrastructure assets, which they refer to as ‘performance digital twins’.
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These new services seem to be a way of conceptualizing and packaging a set of integrations of Bentley components and tools, linking their ProjectWise and AssetWise products together and expanding the functionality of both.
For example, the firm’s iModelHub, introduced last year for synchronizing and automating digital alignment of project workflows, is now available within their Connected Data Environment (CDE), along with the timeline modeling capabilities of its Synchro product.
The next significant announcement was the launch of iModel.js – an open source library. Yes, open source – it can be viewed on GitHub right now. Based on a host of open technologies inclusing Node.js, SQLite, Docker and WebGL, it seems aimed primarily at facilitating interactive, web-based interfaces for exploring BIM models, making it easier to get them out into the world in format-agnostic environments, minimising data loss and facilitating more effective handovers between parties and project phases.
Following this came a slew of acquisition announcements, including innovative pedestrian modeling tool Legion, geotechnical analysis suite Plaxis and Agency9 – seeking to bridge the BIM and GIS gulf within their product portfolio.
Agency9’s CityPlanner is now OpenCities Planner within Bentley’s stable, it will integrate with ContextCapture reality modeling and the other services offered with the CDE to give the potential to create city-scale digital twins.
Siemens’ partnership with Bentley yielded a new integrated asset performance management system for power plants unveiled at the conference, and a new generator-focused tool called PlantSight for power plant management.
A partnership with digital transformation specialists Atos is aimed at owner-operators of industrial facilities with a suite of new industry-specific service offerings.