May 2011

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The Big Bang

Kimon Onuma

Kimon Onuma, FAIA


Connections explode to 71 Million Square Feet for the California Community College System


In May of 2009 a presentation was made at Connectivity Week in Santa Clara CA, that demonstrated for the first time Building Information Modeling (BIM), Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and building sensors connected live in the cloud.

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Much has happened since then and the connections continue to explode as cloud computing takes off as well.  At Connectivity Week we met new companies and mashed up with them. 

Even in 2011, the building industry is one that is mired in 19th century processes and tools many of them manual and tedious.  Up to 50% of the effort of designing, constructing and maintaining a building is waste.  This has a huge impact on the environment.  This is incredibly bad but also incredibly good,
since the opportunities to fix it are huge.

Let us automate the 19th century processes that are broken and focus on value added processes that cannot be easily automated.  For example, creativity and decision making for the most part cannot be automated but the underlying data that allows us to make intelligent decisions can be. 
Some Big Bang Ingredients


The building industry and environment are infinitely complex and therefore no single solution is going to solve the problem.  The technologies are all coming together to support a BIG BANG.  Services Oriented Architecture, BIM, GIS, Cloud Computing, Live Sensors, Web Services and Open Standards are some of the ingredients of BIG BANG.

71 Million Square Foot BANG

The California Community College System (CCC) serves 2.75 million students at 112 California locations and is the largest system of public higher education in the world.

On March 11, 2011 the CCC FUSION System (Facilities Utilization, Space Inventory Options Net) with the entire California inventory of 71 million square feet of buildings and spaces, along with the CCC Geographic Information System (GIS) Collaborative of campuses and buildings was brought together with the ONUMA System, making it the largest cloud computing Building Information Modeling (BIM) + GIS platform. 

In a split second a “BIG BIM BANG” happened between FUSION+GIS+ONUMA to create a combined platform to dramatically expand the value of FUSION for CCC. 

A wealth of CCC and related facility information is accessible visually and in real time in a simple online platform thereby saving time and money through automated synchronization of multiple databases.

What This Will Enable

California Community Colleges will now be able to visualize 2D and 3D floor plans with FUSION data that was previously only accessible in tabular format.  Dynamic data driven floor plan graphics and site plans will allow for pattern recognition, better decision making and accounting of valuable facilities and assets. 

Data visualization serves as a quality check -- highlighting discrepancies and creating a self correcting mechanism.  Traditional methods of retrieving up to date floor plans and data are mired in inefficient processes that are difficult to access.  California Community Colleges can become the leader in managing facilities with the latest in 21st century tools. 

Planning of new facilities can work with historically accurate information from the FUSION+GIS+ONUMA Platform data and floor plans.  One result could be cost effective Initial Project Proposals (IPPs), Final Project Proposals (FPPs), and other predesign planning being produced locally. 

Furthermore, contractors working with the community college districts can be provided integrated facility data to start new construction or renovations in BIM.  Once the projects are completed the as-built information can be fed back into the FUSION+GIS+ONUMA Platform to support operations and maintenance.

FUSION manages the web based data of 71-million square feet of facilities in the California Community College System. 

FUSION tracks the condition assessments and develops cost modeling for maintenance projects, enabling colleges to plan budgets and help facilitate the passing of much-needed bond measures.

The ONUMA System provides award-winning cloud computing integration that supports the full life-cycle of facilities and enables users to view graphics and real-time data on the web.  It combines the best of BIM, GIS and open standards systems acting as a middleware to enable visualization of complex data in a simple format.  The ONUMA System is used from early planning to facility management; it links to other systems through web services and open standards exchanges such as CSV, KML, BIM IFC, COBie, XML and other formats.

Four Levels of Detail

The goal of the FUSION+GIS+ONUMA Platform is to have the entire state at Level 3.  The initial goal was to have the entire FUSION System, which has a common naming and numbering system for the entire state, linked to the ONUMA System at Level 1.  This strategy allowed for immediate functionality using the FUSION data as a common foundation to continually update the rest of the building as the data is collected in the future. 
 Level 1

Level 1
The initial launch of the FUSION+GIS+ONUMA Platform includes the entire state’s data of classrooms placed in the proper geographic location adjacent to the campus property line. 


Level 2

Level 2
The six districts initially demonstrating the FUSION+GIS+ONUMA Platform will also have the campus building footprints from GIS placed in the proper locations and spaces from FUSION will be placed in the buildings. 

  Level 3

Level 3
One building from each of the initial districts will also have the actual layout of the building based on floor plans with rooms from FUSION.

Level 4
The ONUMA System has other capabilities built into it like viewing and editing room level furniture and equipment.  As a middleware it also links to other BIM, CAD and GIS Systems. 

Functionality of FUSION+GIS+ONUMA Platform
  Individual Log In

Individual User Log In
Each user has access to the proper level of detail of graphics and data.  Users can view or edit through a web browser, installing no software.  This strategy allows “viewers” to see live data as it is made available by editors and administrators of the system. 


State View
Entire State Portfolio Level View

View all campus sites as links on a web-based map with objects having a latitude and longitude right down to a piece of equipment in a room.  This is not a trivial accomplishment and makes the connection of building models and GIS real in a tangible way; enabling location based tracking of information across the entire portfolio.

Campus Site Plans

Campus Site Plans
With proper access, a user clicks on a dot that opens the site plan and building footprints of a particular campus.  Live links to geographic data from Google Earth, the CCC GIS Collaborative Server (with color coded building plans) and other live elements from FUSION data can all be queried.

Building Floor Plans

Building Floor Plans
Floor plans that are traditionally managed in static CAD or PDF plans are made live.  As data changes in FUSION changes the graphics in the floor plans.  This strategy is what allows the data to live and be accurate over time, rather than having to constantly update it manually.

Space Floor Plans

Space Floor Plans
Laying out and planning new spaces, furniture, equipment or managing existing spaces is all possible.  This is a Level 4 detail that is available in the system but will not be used in the initial development.

Reports and Analysis

Reports and Analysis
Reports can be generated directly from the graphics.  FUSION data can also be shown in these reports.  Data can also be exported in many open standard formats such as Google Earth, BIM via IFC and BIMXML, COBie, OGC OWS4, CSV or EXCEL Tables.

Technical Requirements
One of the most powerful aspects of the FUSION+GIS+ONUMA Platform is a computer with Internet access is all that is needed to start interacting with the data.  No software installation is needed.  In the past, complex desk bound PC systems required expensive software and training to retrieve basic information.  In the PC environment, “current technology” was outdated by the time the project was finished. The new model: access data on someone else’s infrastructure. Those barriers are removed with the FUSION+GIS+ONUMA Platform.  This allows both technical and non-technical users to work from their platform of choice with minimal hardware requirements and software training.  

iPad, iPhone and Android

iPad, iPhone and Android
The explosion of smart phones and apps on iPhones and Androids demonstrates the need to use simple tools to view and analyze data.  The solution shown here supports all of this and more.  The iPhone and Android UI can view and edit some data, and view 2D graphics, which can also be used to collect field data directly into the ONUMA System.


The Internet has changed so much in the way we work and access information.  Smart phones and location aware services allow instant and easy access to complex relevant real-time information. 

Cloud Computing

The old model of “importing” all data into one monster desktop bound system is becoming extinct.  The new model of using the Internet and “services” to subscribe to information that is the authoritative source is the scalable solution for complex data. 

FUSION+GIS+ONUMA linked together as cloud based services make this a reality for the CCC.  This initial implementation provides exponential value but is really just the tip of the iceberg as more functionality is added in simple and economical way as needed. 

Open Building Standards    buildingSMART alliance
    Industry Foundation Classes (IFC)
    Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)
    World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
    Green Building XML (gbXML)
    Construction Operation Building Information Exchange (COBie)
    Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate (OSCRE)
    REST and SOAP Web Services


With FUSION as the master repository of facility data, GIS mapping the location of campuses and buildings and ONUMA as the integrating middleware bringing it all together -- the FUSION+GIS+ONUMA platform is born. 

Onuma Fusion GIS


Just like the Internet is not one web site, the FUSION+GIS+ONUMA Platform is not created around one solution.  The complexities of 21st century facilities cannot be managed by any single monolithic software.

The use of open standards will support plugging and playing different systems.  Avoiding proprietary locked systems will future-proof the data being managed for the California Community Colleges.

As new needs arise they can be added as modules to the system.  The FUSION+GIS+ONUMA Platform builds the initial infrastructure for this open standards implementation and invites collaborators and future competitors to enhance the capabilities of this ecosystem.  We challenge the industry to plug in and share.

Information and Graphics
Data connected to graphics makes it easier to rapidly analyze and make decisions with information. 

Building Information Modeling (BIM)
4,000 buildings from the entire state are available at varying levels of detail, ready to be opened in tools like Revit,  ArchiCAD, Bentley,  Vectorworks, Onuma and other BIM applications.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Every piece of data is referenced to a geographic location and can be analyzed in various GIS applications.  All buildings can be opened and viewed in Google Earth.

Facility Management (FM)
Data is formatted to be used by FM systems.     
Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate (OSCRE)
All buildings can be exported in the open standard COBie format. 

Computer Aided Design (CAD)
2D and 3D data for the entire state is now connected to graphics which can be accessed in a simple format.

Three Dimensional Models
Buildings can be viewed in 3D and exported to other formats such as Google SketchUp and BIM.

Connect with Open Standards
The platform is set up to allow exporting and importing data with open standards exchanges such as IFC, XML, COBie, KML, CSV and other formats. 

Web Services and the Cloud
Other systems can also connect through web services.  In the same way that FUSION is connected to ONUMA System live through webservices, other systems could also connect.

Onuma System

For More Information

About ONUMA Inc.!/BIMStorm

BIG BIM little bim
Finith Jernigan an early pioneer and leader in BIM coined the term “BIG BIM little bim” in his book of the same title.

About the Author

Kimon Onuma, FAIA, has more than 27 years practicing architecture. When he established his practice 23 years ago he used technology to support processes that dramatically improved efficiency. His practice today is a hybrid architectural and technology firm.
In 1994 Kimon lead his practice to be one of the first firms to use Building Information Modeling (BIM) on large scale US government facilities and continues to provide his services for many US government agencies. In 2010 Onuma, Inc. was prime on a Department of Homeland Security project with Booz Allen Hamilton as the sub-consultant. General Services Administration (GSA) renewed their Onuma System enterprise license of his BIM tool.  The award winning Onuma System is a web-based tool that enables users to work in BIM with simple interfaces.  Among four BIM vendors: Autodesk Architectural Desktop, Autodesk Revit, Bentley and Graphisoft, Onuma System is the only architectural firm that provided GSA assistance in defining the GSA BIM Guide.
Kimon’s unique perspective spans the realm of architecture, planning and programming. He is one of the leading architects / technologists using Building Information Modeling (BIM) to create custom solutions specific for the building industry. His team today is a unique mixture of architects, planners, and computer scientists. The core team is directly involved with all projects and he has had recent experience managing hundreds of people in small and large firms using BIM.
In 2008 Kimon came up with BIMStorm, a collaborative design charrette. BIMStorm is the contraction of BIM and brainstorm. BIMStorms demonstrate the power of cloud technologies with the design process.
BIMStorm LAX, was a 24 hour virtual global design charrette event that took place January 31, 2008, comprising 60 Los Angeles city blocks and over 54 million square feet.  BIMStorm LAX was submitted as a project to American Institute of Architect (AIA) 2008 Technology in Architectural Practice (TAP) Design Awards, garnering a TAP award three months later at the 2008 AIA National Convention. With a Woodstock theme, where architects came together to design and collaborate in real-time, BIMStorm LAX brought together city planners, owners, design, engineering professionals and subject matter experts, to collaborate in low carbon, real-time cloud charrettes.
Kimon has written for and has been interviewed by many industry trade


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