Pioneering with information management by the province of Gelderland

The busy N348 provincial road divides Dieren, a town in the Dutch province of Gelderland, in two. The construction of the Dieren underpass would reunite the two parts of town again. A new tunnel would reduce nuisance and improve daily traffic flow. In addition, the project incorporates room for a new, safe area around the public transport station. Within this project, it is up to Information Manager Niels Reyngoud to keep all of these different information flows moving smoothly and provide targeted access to all stakeholders. To ensure effective information management in every project phase, from design through to maintenance, he is pleased to use Relatics.

The province of Gelderland and Relatics

As Information Manager for the province of Gelderland, Reyngoud provides an effective and logical information management set-up for projects. That is important during the design and implementation phase, but certainly after that as well. “Even though we have not reached that stage in this project, experience shows that there is often a mismatch in the transfer of information from implementation to the maintenance organization. Traditionally, those are two separate worlds, each storing and using their own information. Therefore, it is quite a challenge to document the relevant data of the design and its implementation in such a way that it is also useful in the maintenance phase.”

Clear definitions ease data exchange

In practice, the maintenance organization usually gets on board at a later stage. It sometimes occurs that after a project is finalized, the information is literally wheeled across on dollies stacked high with files. Due to this enormous amount of data, which is often also provided in different formats, it is very time-consuming to retrieve the right information. This task is even more complicated because multiple definitions and standards are used. Reyngoud explains: “In order to facilitate this data transformation, it is first important to use the same descriptions and definitions. This means that you need to specify and define beforehand what people need to know about a certain object. What is a bridge, for instance? Are we dealing with a lift bridge or some other type of structure? On projects, this is stored in an Object Type Library (OTL). On the Dieren underpass project, that OTL has been defined in Relatics. We set up a new workspace in Relatics based on an OTL with the generic characteristics of the objects, such as a culvert, bridge or tree. These objects are linked to other characteristics and, among other things, its outline on the map. Previously, these definitions were also documented, but usually in separate files like Excel sheets, which increases the risk that different descriptions and interpretations will be used. In the OTL in Relatics, these objects have been stored once, but can be queried from different perspectives. That’s why Relatics provides the ideal circumstances to prevent mismatches.”

COINS: effective information exchange

The Province of Gelderland is a pioneer in the field of information management, using the COINS method to exchange information with the contractor. “The BIM standard known as COINS supports the standardized exchange of systems engineering information and ensures that the information can be stored in a database within its context. Subsequently, this also facilitates information exchange between several different parties, such as client and contractor and the maintenance organization.” The Dieren underpass is the first project on which the province of Gelderland is using COINS. “Due to that digital exchange through COINS containers, the OTL no longer needs to be physically transferred. Instead of exchanging the complete OTL, a link to a recent version is sent. In Relatics a COINS container can be generated almost automatically, which saves time and is less error-prone. This way, the maintenance organization gets the information they need and can use data in their own environment. Previously, they had to work through stacks of paper in different formats.”


Making objects visible with the use of a GIS-viewer

As an information manager, Reyngoud is constantly looking for ways to streamline information processes and information exchange. To that end, many different tools are currently available. Open standards such as COINS improve the quality of information exchange. In addition, the link with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a valuable supplement to the available information. Reyngoud: “On the Dieren underpass, we provide access to GIS maps in Relatics at a physical object level through an integration with iViewer, including links to the requirements and specifications. This ensures that geographic details, such as the edge of the ecological main structure or the course of a sound barrier, are clearly visible. This option also makes it possible to show the impact of design versions on spatial planning, nature reserves, or houses. GIS data is relevant to both client and contractor and provides a solid overview of certain interfaces and risks, so that they can be controlled more efficiently by the contractor.” 


Multiple perspectives from a single source

According to Reyngoud, Relatics is an important tool to maintain control of the flood of information that this project generates. “The way in which Relatics supports new developments such as OTL and COINS underlines that they have substantial knowledge of what is happening in the world of information management. In addition, the system is open and flexible, which provides us with the option to tailor it fully to the specific situation. All information is consistently and transparently stored and easy to access. The latter can also be done from different perspectives - client, contractor or administrator - which makes relevant information always easy to find and to share. As such, Relatics directly contributes to effective information management and an efficient progression of the entire project, from design to maintenance.”

About Niels Reyngoud

Niels Reyngoud has been working as an information advisor at the Department of Management and Maintenance Roads of the province of Gelderland since 2010. In recent years he managed to specialize himself in BIM. From this point he is constantly looking for ways to further streamline the information supplies around Asset Management, using standards such as IMBOR, IMGEO, COINS and CB-NL.


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