COBie.coordinate is a vital MAP of the building

There is a view that the coordinate sheet in COBie is not important to the handover information set for FM. This might well be true – if the FM system that receives this data does not support spatial information and displaying it in context as graphical floor plan, there are a lot out there that don’t or it relies links to a 3rd party CAD system to link items to it’s database.

Why do we use graphics, maps and plans? It’s to make information easier to understand. Nowadays we don’t just give a set of direction’s to get to our offices  in text we supplement it with a link to Bing/Google/Open Street/Ordnance Survey maps or we provide a postcode or on our web site there is a map with the location. The recipient then plots a route using the map because it’s easy to do and makes sure they can navigate more efficiently to their destination using a print out or entering the post code into their sat-nav in the car or mobile phone.

To me the coordinate sheet in COBie is just that set of information, it can store the map of the building and the locations of components. No other data required! Is is needed if you already have the items referencing their space’s. If you are dealing with large spaces, long winding corridors then yes it is. Or if the equipment is located between the boundaries of spaces then it wont automatically be detected. The only other method is it’s spatial co-ordinate, this ceases to be a nice to have to a must have.

cobie data browser coordinates of floor and space

Map of the Building

We have used the coordinate sheet to define a map of the building using what is naturally part of the BIM model. Areas define the curtilage of the building and room or space to define boundaries of spaces. When we display them in a standard ( NOTE “Standard” ) web browser it looks like the plan of a building but it is NOT there are no walls no structure it is a map and it is all stored as data in the COBie spreadsheet. Then when we navigate through the information by classifications ( schedules ) or systems we can display on the “map” of the building the component locations and query them.

cobie data browser coordinate of component

Building map and location pins of components by category classifications

Why is this so important? Simple, all the data its stored in one source, and when viewed with a data browser, like ours, makes it easy to navigate the building and check things are where they are supposed to be. Another advantage is that it is enough for simpler applications to be developed that can add more data like product manufactures information or additional parameters and more critical maintenance procedures. It provides a gate through which more players can pass, those without sophisticated BIM modelling systems, contractors, installers, product procurement people, construction supervisors. It provides the core data necessary for a whole world of big data but that is another story.

Product Libraries

Product Libraries

So the next question is how easy is it to create? In the IFC the room area space definitions exist but the IFC step format is an old procedural format and it is easier to get the data using other methods. We have a plugin for AutoCAD. this enables us to export polygons it will look for text in a layer in the boundary of the polygon to assign the room code and description. From REVIT you can output a dwg with the area/space/ rooms as polygons then in AutoCAD we move the different parts of the text annotation to the different layers then run the export. The  current output is in XML and I process this into a fully compliant COBie spreadsheet. This I then publish to the Cobie Data Browser and it imports the coordinates.

activeplan AutoCAD polygon exporter

activeplan AutoCAD polygon exporter

As we develop our Impact-Revit connector we will be looking to get this spatial boundary data directly from the application and it’s first implementation will be with Impact. Generating this building map and component locations is pretty easy for all the BIM systems out there, ArchiCAD, Bentley, Tekla, Vector works. Our AutoCAD exporter demonstrates that even 2D CAD can produce this information, you don’t need a BIM system to create core COBie data and you never have done although BIM does make it easier.

My big worry is by dropping COORDINATE  from the standard smaller organisations who will miss out on the simple (low cost) tools that will help them become part of the big world of Building Information Modelling. However we will make it part of our recommendation to clients that it is included in the Employer Information Requirements because if you don’t ask you don’t get.

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