Digitalization at an Urban Scale


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Photo courtesy of: Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

Aiming to minimize human error with BIMİST

BIMİST, a project initiated by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) to address the problems of the city as part of its 2050 vision, aims to minimize human error in licensing and project approval processes by digitizing building permit processes with the BIM infrastructure. The team at IMM Department of Housing and Urban Development, Directorate of Housing developed the BIMİST project using Autodesk’s BIM applications.

Photo courtesy of: Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

Digitalization in Building License and Approval Processes

The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) has embarked on numerous groundbreaking initiatives to transform Istanbul into a livable city by 2050, where urban services and facilities are provided with high quality and equitable spatial distribution. One of these initiatives is BIMİST, which was developed by the IMM Department of Housing and Urban Development in collaboration with Autodesk BIM applications. Its objective is to digitalize the processes of building permit issuance and approval.

“Robust construction is currently the top item in our agenda for Istanbul. Urban development is at the heart of our goal to transform Istanbul into a livable city,” says Gürkan Akgün, Head of the Department of Reconstruction and Urbanization, and emphasizes the need to go digital to address the city's construction-related problems by creating a digital twin of the city with all its layers of infrastructure and superstructure. Akgün adds, “Creating a digital twin of the city with all its layers offers us a very powerful tool for healthy construction. We consider the BIMİST project to be a key step in the lead-up to city-wide digitalization.

Photo courtesy of: Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

A Movement of Transformation

Ramazan Gülten, the Housing Director of the IMM Department of Housing and Urban Development, highlights that BIMİST represents a pioneering transformation project. BIMİST provides a fast and transparent platform that seamlessly integrates project control and approval processes, all backed by industry standards and specifications.

Commenting on the pioneering role of BIMİST, Ramazan Gülten says: “BIMİST has enabled us to prepare for a more extensive transformation that will connect all reconstruction and urban planning processes. It is the fruit of a transformation movement that will integrate all the construction processes of the city and maximize efficiency.

A version of this article ran previously on website. Photos courtesy of [credit].

Photo courtesy of: Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

An Important Milestone in Process Optimization

Pınar Çalışkan, the Deputy Director of the IMM Department of Housing and Urban Development, says that the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality starts each day by posing the following questions: “What are the obstacles preventing Istanbul from becoming a livable city? What can we do to overcome these obstacles? What solutions can we develop?” and adds, “The BIMİST project was the Municipality's response to these questions. This project is aimed at preventing various issues in the city by digitizing building permit processes. It was also a major milestone for the process optimization of an entire institution.

Photo courtesy of: Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

Digital Transformation: the Answer to Every Question

BIMİST originated from the IMM Department of Housing and Urban Development's endeavor to adopt BIM practices. During this process, the Directorate of Housing team also examined the urban challenges presented by IMM as part of Vision 2050.

Architect Ege Tekkökoğlu, who is also a team member, says, “The current housing structure is neither nature- nor people-oriented. We need to adopt an approach that will reverse this situation. Our foremost requirement was a platform that could generate and implement innovative solutions to enhance the city's resilience against natural disasters.” Emphasizing the importance of digital transformation, Tekkökoğlu also adds: “Digital transformation seems to be the key to solving every single problem we investigate. We need smart systems in order to reduce environmental pollution, and increase the share of renewable energy. The world's leading megacities rely on BIM-based solutions to address such problems. BIM, or Building Information Modeling, provides us with a powerful methodology for digital transformation in urban development.

Obstacles Through the Process

Hande Alaca Epik, an Architect employed in the IMM Department of Housing and Urban Development, and one of the key contributors to the development of BIMİST, outlines the identified issues concerning the processes as follows: “The main issue in construction permit processes was the delays in project control and license approval processes. There were a lot of repeated internal workflows and weaknesses in coordination and communication made the situation worse. Project design, delivery and control standards were not set, and there was no data interaction. In order to address all these problems, we initiated the transition to BIM.”

Photo courtesy of: Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

Kindergarten Pilot Projects

In accordance with the BIM process, the team considers the IMM's kindergarten projects as a pilot scheme for project control and permit Through these projects, they worked on examining the delivery documents and classifying the structural elements with a BIM-based system. Architect Ege Tekkökoğlu says, “With BIMİST, we aimed to minimize human error in permit and project approval processes.

Explaining the development process, Architect Hande Alaca Epik says: “We used Dynamo codes to automate structuring controls. We created flowcharts for the controls that would be carried out by different departments and started working on a web interface to provide the workflow in the process. In the DEMO1 phase of the BIMİST project, we created the architectural and static projects of a kindergarten with Revit in line with our BIM modeling standards and implementation plan. In doing so, our goal was to automate the controls for various aspects of the building subject to the permit application in the BIM model, including height, setback distance and fire escape distance. And we succeeded.”

BIMİST: Ready for New Phases

Pınar Çalışkan, Deputy Zoning Director, says, “Currently, we have completed the steps for Digital Zoning Status/Land Model and Automatic floor area ratio control. We also continue to work on improving the BIMİST interfaces we have created. We strive to expand BIMİST across all our departments.

The team is excited about the innovations that the BIM infrastructure will bring. Housing Director Ramazan Gülten emphasizes that they would be able to perform sustainability analyses and disaster simulations on the digital twin of a certain building or the city. Gülten says, “This will allow us to make public investments based on scientific and quantitative data.” and added that they would achieve more accurate results in energy and emission measurements in projects with permits obtained using the BIM system.

Towards the Ultimate Goal

Defining the ultimate goal of BIMİST, which is a significant milestone in the digitalization journey, Gürkan Akgün, Head of the IMM Department of Housing and Urban Development, says: 

“Our ultimate goal is to transform Istanbul into a global city boasting better living conditions, environment- and people-centricity, as well as disaster resilience. We will continue to develop innovative solutions such as BIMİST that will shape Istanbul’s bright future in line with our 2050 Vision” 

—Gürkan Akgün, Head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

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