IFC 4.3 Progress Report and Next Steps

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By Clive Billiald

IFC 4.3 formally entered the next stage of the ISO process – the DIS (Draft International Standard) voting phase – on 20th February 2023. This was a significant step forward for buildingSMART, and it signifies further progress to ensure the latest standards are supported for the intended global rollout. At bSI, we are extremely grateful for all the hard work of so many people who have made this possible. To bring such a major effort to this point takes a lot of collaboration, commitment, investment, and drive, and this is a credit to the work that is done at buldingSMART.

The DIS voting phase that we are now in will involve the review and balloting of IFC 4.3 by participating ISO members and liaisons, and is planned to be completed by 15th May 2023. These ISO reviewers can recommend approval or rejection of the standard, as well as provide editorial and/or technical comments. The votes and comments are sealed until the end of the voting process in May.

While the end goal of global adoption of the standard remains unchanged, there are a few potential paths we may take in the near term, depending on the outcome of the current ISO balloting round. In particular, the degree of comments we receive will determine whether we can move straight into the Production phase ahead of the publication of the standard or whether we need to implement any modifications and pass through a short Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) phase first. These paths are shown in the diagram below. We hope that rejection of the standard would be extremely unlikely, given the success we have had in reaching this stage of the ISO process.

There have also been some requests to understand the ISO approval timeline for the follow-on IFC 4.4 extensions, which will incorporate Tunnels into the IFC schema. We will be able to set out detailed timings for this only once we confirm the path for IFC 4.3.  Importantly, IFC 4.3 approval will take priority from a resource and also from an ISO process perspective. The draft IFC 4.4 schema will need to go through the complete bSI Process as well as a comprehensive validation process with vendors and be published as a bSI Production Standard before we can consider submitting it to the ISO approval process.

The following diagram summarises these potential paths:

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What next?

In the development of the Strategic Roadmap, the demand for adoption has been overwhelming. At the upcoming international Standards Summit on March 27-31, 2023, I will discuss how we can achieve alignment across our community as we develop the next generation of standards and services, as well as increase the current adoption of standards we have. I also believe in enhanced communication as we gather momentum and achieve significant milestones.

With the growing demands for our services, I have been impressed by the recognition of the importance of openBIM and the role it can play. Most recently, the Ministry for Environment in Finland passed a bill through their Parliament to use IFC to reduce their carbon footprint and to use open standards as a way of achieving a net-zero society. Milestones like this make you realize the role we play is crucial in making our planet more sustainable. I look forward to the Summit in Rome, where the event titled "Delivering a Diverse and Sustainable Future with openBIM" becomes more relevant as a topic. I hope to see some of you there, but if not, I will continue to share progress as we see it through the work we do.


An example slide from the keynote presentation planned by Clive Billiald for Rome, 27th March 2023 showing some IFC and openBIM mandates and resolutions.