Maintain and work with a building scene layer

The life cycle of the building scene layer includes data creation from the source building information modeling (BIM) files, visualizing buildings as building layers in ArcGIS Pro, publishing building scene layers for sharing across the ArcGIS platform, and consuming data in ArcGIS clients to enable desktop, web, and mobile workflows.

Interior space of a building scene layer.
The interior space of a building scene layer is shown. Copyright 2020: The Ohio State University Facilities Information and Technology Services.

GIS can facilitate different aspects of BIM, bringing information from other sources together and providing detailed analysis and search capabilities. The following are examples of benefits using GIS in your BIM process:

Considerations for how you will work with building scene layers in your ArcGIS workflow include the following:

  • How and with whom will data be shared within your organization?

User access patterns and requirements impact how you work with building scene layers. For example, if you plan to use data only within your organization using your enterprise GIS, you will have different requirements for data security and access permissions than if you plan to make data publicly available using ArcGIS Online.

A building scene layer authored for use by GIS experts who will use it for geoprocessing analysis may contain different information than a layer authored from the same source data for use by non-GIS users who want to explore the building in a simple web dashboard.

  • Will data be maintained over an extended period of time and need to be updated periodically in ArcGIS, or is data maintained in BIM software or another workflow outside GIS?

Depending on how your system of record is designed, you will have to define the pattern for data to be updated either with ArcGIS or from information coming from an external system or repository. For example, if you need to view the current version of a BIM file in ArcGIS, you may need to regularly replace a building scene layer package every time a source BIM file (Revit or IFC) has been updated. Other workflows may allow you to maintain building information in ArcGIS, allowing you to edit the geometry as well as the attribute information.

  • What are the needs for visualization, querying, and analysis of BIM information?

Visualization workflows may require that you capture the precise graphics from source BIM files, including textures and materials. For planning workflows, it may be that only basic geometry is needed. For use of complex BIM-derived data in facility management workflows, you may decide to create a building scene layer with predefined filters for easier visualization in end clients.

The scenarios described below represent examples of workflows that may be required to support different data applications.

Visualize building information in ArcGIS

Scenario: A construction company wants to share the progress of construction of a new building with the end customer. The customer wants to see the new building in context with other information about the surrounding neighborhood and city. The customer has a GIS system and wants to show the regularly updated status of construction with their own proprietary data. In this case, the customer needs access to 3D geometry, attributes, and phase information, if available, but the 3D BIM content represents construction documentation that applies only until the building is commissioned and all data is transferred to the owner or operator of the building.

Goal: Regularly create a 3D scene of the building site, capturing information derived from BIM files and showing the authoritative surroundings. Archive the building state for future use. Allow users to define simple queries to answer basic questions about construction and the assets in the building.

Tools: Create a workflow to publish and distribute building scene layers that can be archived as files that contain information for visualizing and querying the correctly geopositioned building.

To accomplish this scenario, create building scene layer package files (.slpk) from building layers sourced from Revit. Because there are no special requirements for maintaining or visualizing the building information, the building scene layer can be replaced regularly and archived, if needed. This workflow allows the data provider to generate content derived from the source BIM files in a form that can be consumed by the user in ArcGIS. Filters can be predefined in the building scene layer to highlight specific project information, such as recently installed fire equipment.

  1. Add a BIM file workspace (Revit or IFC) to an ArcGIS Pro scene, which then appears as a building layer in ArcGIS Pro.
  2. Adjust the information you want to include in the building scene layer as needed. For example, remove categories or move them to different disciplines to organize the content as you want it to appear in GIS experiences.
  3. Define filters for the building scene layer.
  4. Use the Create Building Scene Layer Content geoprocessing tool to create a building scene layer as an .slpk file.
  5. Upload the building scene layer to ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise to publish it as a web scene layer and use the scene layer in a web scene.
  6. To accommodate updates to the source data, replace the .slpk file and scene layer using the Enterprise portal or ArcGIS Online tools.
  7. Optionally, convert a Revit file to a geodatabase feature dataset using the BIM File To Geodatabase geoprocessing tool.

    The category layers are converted to multipatches, and all textures defined for the building are included in the layer.

Analyze and visualize BIM information that is not maintained in ArcGIS

Scenario: A building manager operates a building, and she wants to analyze the building using geoprocessing tools and queries to improve usage and safety. For example, what is the square footage used by department A? Where are all the fire extinguishers located? There are other systems already in place to maintain and update the building information in tabular or graphic format using CAD and other document management systems. These systems need to be integrated with GIS to create an integral solution to be used by the entire department.

Goal: Create a building that can be accessed across the ArcGIS platform using ArcGIS Pro and Scene Viewer. The building information must be accessible for geoprocessing tools as well as connected to a document management system using relationship classes. No modifications to the building are planned. If updates are needed, all of the information will be replaced.

  1. Include all information in the building layer that is needed to access the building information, including all disciplines and category layers and consolidate the building data into a geodatabase.
  2. Include the list of filters when adding the building layer to the scene.

    You can later republish the building scene layer in a web scene and overwrite the filter.

  3. Because the information needs to be connected to a document management system, add the table to the scene and create a relationship class for each category layer.

    This information will be available in the building scene layer.

  4. Decide whether the data needs to be updated over time when you publish the building layer as a building scene layer using the share as web layer or share web scene tool.

    For example, even if you will rarely update an attribute, it may be better to allow editing to the associated feature layer. This allows you to make changes later to individual category layers.

    Because only small updates are made over time and the building is not only maintained within the GIS system, you do not need to share by reference. You can share the web scene or the web scene layer by value.

  5. Consume the building scene layer in ArcGIS Pro and execute geoprocessing tools on its category layers or edit the attributes.

Consolidate BIM information in ArcGIS

Scenario: A university wants to consolidate its GIS system with its BIM information to maintain its entire campus. A workflow to create building information and include it in the GIS already exists. Revit data is consolidated into a single layer including all buildings of the campus. The building information is used for internal and external users. For example, students can find individual classrooms using a publicly available web app, and the facility manager can quantify the rooms that are assigned to a specific faculty. Operating a university campus is a long-term investment, and multiple projects are executed over the lifetime of a building.

Goals: Add more buildings over time and maintain the attribute information of individual assets. The building information must be available in a public facing application as well as for internal use. Asset analysis, visualization, and query must be possible. The university wants to use GIS for asset management. For example, a building that has been in operation for 120 years and needs a new air conditioning unit must be maintainable. All information regarding warranty, operation units, and performance must be available.

  1. Since the building layer will include more than one building, add a unique identifier to assure the buildings can be filtered, queried, and maintained over time as separate units.
  2. Add all discipline and category layers to the campus using the BIM File To Geodatabase geoprocessing tool.
  3. Create a unique identifier, for example the name of the building, to distinguish the assets of a building.

    For all campus buildings, only one category layer is created.

  4. Include any filter or relationship classes for the building in the scene before publishing.

    You can define a building filter. The building filters are included in the building scene layer.

  5. Because the data will be maintained over a very long time, plan for any possible schema changes in the future. To allow schema changes, share the building scene layer by reference where the associated feature layer remains in the enterprise geodatabase and is referenced.

    You can perform schema changes on a scene layer with associated feature layer to add new fields.

  6. Make the associated feature layer editable to allow changes to the building scene layer.
  7. Add a GlobalID and enable archiving before sharing as a web scene layer.
  8. The building scene layer is associated by reference with the feature layer. You can make changes while editing the building scene layer. If the same data needs to be available for other use cases in ArcGIS, it can be shared by value without the editing capabilities.

    You can consume the building scene layer in ArcGIS Pro, execute geoprocessing tools on its category layers, or edit to the attributes.

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