The rise of cloud services, vendor partnerships and software refinement is supporting increasing multi-vendor interoperability of project data for the design, construction and management of roads and bridges.

In London in early November, attendees at Bentley Systems’ “Year in Infrastructure” conference were presented with a progress report on Bentley’s interoperability journey, which now is beginning to reach out to the services of other vendors.

Bentley has been working for years to consolidate its various civil-design software products, including InRoads, GEOPAK, MX and Power Civil. It finally has done it with a new 3D modeler, Bentley OpenRoads Designer, which will become available to early-access users in the first week of December. All the capabilities of those products are now combined. The separate disciplines previously served now are accommodated by selectable user profiles.

The product shares its data using Bentley’s ProjectWise Connect servers. It also can integrate reality-capture survey data, developed with Bentley’s ContextCapture image-processing system, as well as early-design schemes created and evaluated using Bentley’s ConceptStation, introduced in 2015. 

Another major new wrinkle is that design data exchange now can be extended—through a relationship with Microsoft and its Azure cloud services—to project servers of other vendors. At the conference, Bentley announced such “connected” relationships with Topcon Positioning Group’s Magnet Enterprise servers and with the asset records of Bureau Veritas, a global engineering validation and inspection service.

The exchange with Topcon is expected to enable a workflow between Bentley’s civil-design tools and asset management products as well as Topcon’s survey and machine control systems. The vision is that survey data will flow directly into design, then return to control graders and pavers, and then circle back again, further enhanced from the machines to asset management as a real-time, as-built record of work put-in-place.

“Although the OpenRoads Designer product is brand-new, its functionality already has been at the core of the model-based design of the previous, separate products,” said CEO Greg Bentley. In the OpenRoads suite, “no data is lost,” he explains, from concept to detailed design—across multiple disciplines—and into construction. The suite includes OpenRoads Navigator, which runs on Windows but also on iOS or Android devices, assuring the visibility of project status from the office to the field.

Dustin Parkman, Bentley vice president of civil and reality modeling, said that, in OpenRoads Designer, “[features] being modeled are intelligent components for infrastructure.” He says that will help users to understand earlier the financial implications of design options and carry early decisions directly into design. Parkman adds that the new product retains the ability to produce deliverables characteristic of each of the predecessor products but also includes enhancements and cloud-service features designed to unite work in OpenRoads models with work in other, similarly connected tools.

“It’s the whole interface of providing information to a user to do design and analysis—the whole way of working has an opportunity to change,” commented Peter Vale, engineering information manager with Thames Tideway Tunnel.