One future vision for virtual design and construction tools is for a "highly automated and seamlessly integrated environment" across all phases and processes of a project’s life cycle. The vision belongs to the FIATECH Consortium, which is devoted to opening up digital standards production to the world by developing the tool to achieve interoperability for interoperability standards.

FIATECH wants a digital world in which all data is available to "whomever needs it, whenever it’s needed and wherever it’s needed," says Ric Jackson, director of the Austin-based nonprofit group.

The Capital Projects Technology Roadmap outlines the vision. Work started in the oil and gas sectors. Building construction is next, and software vendors are on board. "By the end of the year, interested parties in the building-construction sector will be able to work with us to accelerate the development of their emerging interoperability standards," says Jackson.

The structure for the FIATECH tool is based on the data set of the ISO 15926 standard. Much of the work to come involves creating a dictionary of terms, use cases, generic schemes for the information wanted and templates to put all that together. FIATECH is setting it up much like Wikipedia. Anyone, anywhere can add to the body of data, which would then be reviewed. Eventually, everyone will agree on the same way to describe elements of any type of capital project, down to a doorknob.

The group has another VDC project, called the FIATECH Streamlining Project. One effort is assisting state agencies to use building information modeling (BIM) in state building construction projects, including government offices, hospitals and schools. The other effort is to nudge building departments to adopt electronic plan review.

The aim is for BIM data "to help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the regulatory process," says Robert C. Wible, FIATECH’s streamlining project manager.

In the first area, FIATECH is working with several states, including Wisconsin, where the Dept. of Administration has announced it will release initial BIM guidelines on July 1. FIATECH also is shadowing BIM use on a federal building job in Toledo. It expects to translate those uses into BIM procedures.

On the regulatory side, FIATECH is working to document how electronic plan review can reduce the time it takes to conduct state plan reviews and to determine how BIM data can be used.