Smart city : What is the role of BIM ?

BIM (Building Information Modeling) and the smart city have the common point of being fashionable expressions. Nevertheless, behind these are hidden real issues for the future of the city and its population. The subject raises questions about BIM’s contributions to the Smart City.


Smart city : General information

Smart City: first definition

The intelligent and efficient use of natural resources, due to global warming and the risk of scarcity, has become a priority. For example, the smart city is a city that uses energy resources efficiently through new technologies, including information. The smart city offers to its population maximum quality with minimal resource consumption thanks to an intelligent combination of infrastructures (transport, energy, communication, …) on the building, neighborhood and city scales. The inhabitants of the cities are more and more: the smart city is supposed to offer them a better quality of life.

This smart city concept is not new in itself, like BIM, but a recent environmental awareness helped by technological advances has fostered the emergence. Smart cities account for 90% of European cities with more than 500k inhabitants and 43% of cities with 100k to 200k inhabitants, according to a report by the European Parliament (Mapping smart cities in the EU).

The life of smart cities

Smart cities can be classified into 3 categories:

  • Smart living: improving the quality of life of citizens
  • Smart Safety: help with prevention, risk minimization
  • Smart Substability: Reducing Environmental Impacts


Becoming “smart” is possible by differents way. Some cities focus on the operational efficiency of their municipal services, others on citizen engagement with smartphone users applications, and others focus on using data to deliver cultural services based on technology to become more attractive in terms of places to live and work.

It can therefore be deduced that BIM in its collaborative form is linked to the smart city. Indeed, the BIM is introduced in the concept of Smart Building (intelligent building) by the possibility of recovering the technical data of the building. This construction process also has the challenge of reducing construction and maintenance costs throughout the building’s life cycle.

Given that the data is at the heart of the Smart City, BIM allows access to building information to adapt the uses of it, is a good way to have a smarter city !

Building a smart city with BIM

The importance of BIM for creating a smart city

BIM makes a city “smart”. BIM is not a product: it is a process supported by a technology that would give more efficient assets and is essential for the creation of a smart city.

If you look at the life cycle of an infrastructure project, you have many teams and companies involved. The breakdowns can be by trade, by zone, by phase of the project (ex: the first team deals with the planning, the second design, the third of the construction, then a maintenance team). In such scenarios, the importance of BIM increases as it facilitates information management and collaboration between teams associated with a construction project. It mainly helps to avoid a waste of income and an important information leak.

BIM removes these barriers by integrating the mobility of information, so that everyone uses the same set of standards and processes. As a result, your knowledge of assets is constantly increasing throughout the project lifecycle. This will benefit everyone in the long run.

In addition, the implementation of the BIM allows architects and engineers to obtain several tracks of informed design (3D), while the builders reduce waste and complete their projects in time. This saves money on expenses incurred due to avoidable delays.

A city is never isolated with BIM. A building remains permanently integrated with other bases such as the transport system, utilities, etc. It is therefore a complex task, it is the excellence of the BIM. Projects implementing BIM open up opportunities for collaboration and allow a free flow of standardized information between systems. Indeed, after this analysis of the concept of smart city and BIM, the most important factor is information and its easy access.

BIM in the world

The United Kingdom mandated the implementation of BIM at level 2 for all government projects (The different levels of BIM will be the subject of an upcoming blog article). Since then, we have seen a 20% reduction in capital costs using BIM Level 2 in the UK. In Europe, France, Spain, and Germany have accelerated the adoption of BIM standards. Like the United Kingdom, New Zealand has also mandated BIM for major infrastructure projects. The adoption of BIM is also gaining momentum in India thanks to the government project “100 Smart Cities”. However, the Nordic countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland) are pioneers in this field because they adopted the BIM in 2005.


In the new challenges facing the territories here and elsewhere, the logic of the Smart City is in the lead. How to improve the urban space, make it more intelligent, more adapted and more evolutionary? The answer goes through the Smart Building: since it is at the heart of the Smart City, the new building must integrate these notions of intelligence.

The first stage of intelligent building is based on the BIM digital model since it integrates the entire life cycle of the building. To make it the cornerstone of new cities, all actors, from the user to the manufacturer, have the mission to generalize the practice. Fortunately, all technologies are available, it remains only to disseminate the methods.

The Smart Building and their BIM digital model could be of much more interest than the new territories. Since many cities are currently undergoing renovation or adaptation, they are all destined to take advantage of these new services. Why not consider the use of BIM models by new territories that would influence historic cities and thus, push them to reinvent themselves?


Interested by the subject ? Modeling, collaboration, decision: find the real value of BIM and download our guide: “What is BIM? Disspelling the myths

Intéressé(e) par le sujet ? Modélisation, collaboration, décision : saisissez la réelle valeur du BIM et téléchargez notre guide : “Qu’est-ce que le BIM ? Dissiper les malentendus