Every Innovation Starts With A Conversation

Industry leaders from InfoTech discuss the coming wave in construction data and technical sophistication.  

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Despite all the progress made in digital project delivery in recent years, there’s one key missing link that’s been holding it back: the lack of a uniform data standard that makes the vast, digital information shareable and flowing seamlessly between programs.  

But in a presentation at Infotech’s e-Merge 2024 virtual conference on Feb. 1, industry leaders said the long-awaited breakthrough is here in the form of Industry Foundational Classes’ new open data standard.  

“It’s a game changer for digital project delivery,” said Andy Martin, chief technology officer for Infotech. “It frees us up from having to support a large number of distinct and mostly proprietary design file formats coming from many design tool vendors.” 

For years, proponents of digital project delivery have discussed the need for a common data environment, said Martin and his co-presenter Ron Gant, a senior consultant with Infotech focused on BIM and digital project delivery.  

“What it’s trying to achieve is a repeatable framework,” Martin said. “We don’t reinvent the wheel for each and every project we undertake.” 

IFC is “a schema. It’s also a file format. [It] can be exported as a file type from one program into another,” said Martin. 

For example, it would allow CAD, Sketchup, and Trimble files — all relating to a different project element — to be accessed by appropriate stakeholders and workers. As the technology progresses, it could revolutionize decision making not just during project delivery but across the entire lifecycle of the infrastructure asset, Gant and Martin said.  

The benefits of IFC, which has been endorsed by AASHTO, will be compounded when software makers use it to create APIs — which allow distinct software programs to communicate with each other.