Project progress in 2021 revealed, that a simple transfer of BRISE to other cities and regions in Europe is highly unlikely. Instead, the project team will need to find a bundle of strategies and approaches to upscale BRISE.
Why would a simple transfer not work? The main argument for this is embedded within the individual building regulation of Vienna: legal text and textual provisions follow a specific approach in Vienna and the AI system has been trained on the basis of these input documents. Using the same algorithms to detect patterns in textual provisions of building regulations of say Northrine Westphalia (NRW) in Germany, is highly likely to produce invalid results, since a range of provisions will be undetected and some code-parts will search for patterns that do not exist in these documents.
At the same time, BRISE Vienna is being built in absence of a nation wide standard for data transfer in the planning- and building administration. While Germany, for example, has introduced XPlanGML as binding data exchange format in planning and building on national level in 2017, Austria does not refer to any standard alike. This gives BRISE developers a higher degree of freedom to build the system based on the latest technologies and standards, but also runs the risk of lacking interoperability with other digital planning and verification systems in Europe. From the project standpoint, it is reasonable to build BRISE in reference to FME and BIM by using DWG and IFC files, yet it poses a challenge to upscaling BRISE to different countries, since an adaptation of the technical system must happen based on the national standard.
The large potential for upscaling of BRISE becomes evident, when redirecting the focus. Away from a 1:1 transfer of the fully functional BRISE system and towards a modular approach of reusing the innovations by BRISE for rebuilding similar systems in different national or regional settings, or even for improving administrative processes which are not related to building verification and permission.
In essence, the project has identified five replicable and scalable innovations which can be used in a modular way beyond the full deployment of the BRISE System:
- The automated transfer of 2D plans into a 3D reference model.
- The criteria matrix behind the 2D – 3D transfer (structure, compatibility) as IFC standard
- The AI-based semantic search for similar or related legal cases
- The AI-based recognition and extraction of signatures from submission documents
- The process to train the AI to identify and classify textual provisions in legal documents
Each of these tools holds in itself the potential to simplify and accelerate a range of administrative procedures in city administrations or building authorities. To reap its potential, a good documentation and a high-quality open-source code repository will be imperative. Providing this in German and English before the end of the project should be taken-up as a key result of BRISE.
When posed with the question on how to scale-up the results of BRISE-Vienna, the project team realised yet another challenge. Although focusing on the development of a new digital product, the stakeholders involved in BRISE Vienna do not have an intrinsic own interest of putting the scalability of the system at the center of the focus. This is – in principal – due to the nature of the project. Whereas product development in the private sector usually is intrinsically linked to business innovation (i.e. no product comes without a business model), BRISE Vienna is developing a new product out of the perspective of one city, targeted at solving this citie’s challenges. The lack of a business model perspective for BRISE Vienna has been discussed at a workshop in September, leading to no final result. Yet, it is the author’s recommendation to include the perspective of a sound business model into the further development and exploitation plan of BRISE. Only if one or several organisations perceive BRISE as a chance for growing a business (i.e. by facilitating the development and uptake of similar systems in other regions of Europe), a clear perspective for scaling-up will become apparent. Until today, project coordination assumes that it will be enough to publish the results of BRISE and to engage in dialogue with other cities and nation-wide actors for scaling-up to happen. This, unfortunately, is unrealistic and should be reconsidered.