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Building information modeling (BIM) is an approach to design engineering that combines traditional computer-aided design (CAD) with 3D modeling. BIM software integrates visual information with data about specifications, materials, functionality, and maintenance to provide all project participants with a unified view of the project and all its components.

BIMs are files which can be extracted, exchanged or networked to support decision-making regarding a building or other built asset.

At its core, BIM relies on 3D CAD models but adds metadata to files in a standardized way. The additional information the metadata provides can help with planning and budgeting as well as project workflow. If kept up to date, BIM renderings provide an accurate picture of a project's progress, ensuring that all changes are compatible with the original design.

In addition to buildings, BIM software is used for designing many types of infrastructure, utilities, and systems including:

  • Civil and structural engineering

  • Energy and utilities

  • Highway and road engineering

  • Surveying

  • Offshore and marine architecture

  • Rail and metro transportation engineering

  • Tunneling and subway architecture

  • Urban master-planning and smart city design

BIM is a relatively new technology in an industry typically slow to adopt change. Yet many early adopters are confident that BIM will grow to play an even more crucial role in building documentation.

Proponents claim that BIM offers:

  • Improved visualization

  • Improved productivity due to easy retrieval of information

  • Increased coordination of construction documents

  • Embedding and linking of vital information such as vendors for specific materials, location of details and quantities required for estimation and tendering

  • Increased speed of delivery

  • Reduced costs

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