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J.H.M. Tah, A.H. Oti and F.H. Abanda

Abstract

Elements that constitute the built environment are vast and so are the independent systems developed to model its various aspects. Many of these systems have been developed under various assumptions and approaches to execute functions that are distinct, complementary or sometimes similar. Furthermore, these systems are ever increasing in number and often assume similar nomenclatures and acronyms, thereby exacerbating the challenges of understanding their peculiar functions, definitions and differences. The current societal demand to improve sustainability per­formance through collaboration as well as whole-system and through-life thinking is driving the need to integrate independent systems associated with different aspects and scales of the built environment to deliver smart solutions and services that improve the well-being of citizens. The contemporary object-oriented digitization of real-world elements appears to provide a leeway for amalgamating the modelling systems of various domains in the built environment which we termed as built environment information modelling (BeIM). These domains include architecture, engineering, construction as well as urban planning and design. Applications such as building information modelling, geographic information systems and 3D city modelling systems are now being integrated for city modelling purposes. The various works directed at integrating these systems are examined, revealing that current research efforts on integration fall into three categories: (1) data/file conversion systems, (2) semantic mapping systems and (3) the hybrid of both. The review outcome suggests that good knowledge of these domains and how their respective systems operate is vital to pursuing holistic systems integration in the built environment.