Skip to content Skip to navigation

Research & Ideas

Search this site

Building-information modeling can transform how we create cities

A professor of civil and environmental engineering explains how a technology that allows multiple stakeholders to share data can help us create sustainable digital cities.

Black and white city drawing

iStock/leszekglasner

To create sustainable digital cities, says Stanford professor of civil and environmental engineering Martin Fischer, we need accurate, accessible, and trusted predictions of how our urban systems will perform.

Building-information modeling (BIM) – a technology that allows multiple stakeholders to share the same data, models, and visualizations for a given project – can help us do just that. BIM-based methods have brought complex buildings like hospitals to fruition in time and under budget, without sacrificing anything from the project’s original scope.

In a presentation during the Digital Cities Summit 2016, Fischer explains how BIM tools applied to the urban scale can predict and optimize such complexities as the supply and demand of electricity, heat, and water. If we can’t create and share accurate projections of these urban systems, Fischer says, investment financing will remain prohibitively risky. “I see this ability to bring expertise and data together, model it, visualize it over time, as absolutely essential to achieving our vision of a digital city.”

Get Updates from Stanford Engineering