The questions and responses are assembled from questions posted online and from the FED iFM meetings. These will be updated over time.
What is iFM and FED iFM?
iFM is an approach and platform to foster applications that can link to facility data through a shared services approach. FED iFM is the US Government version of iFM that runs in the secure environment of MAX.gov and enables agencies to work with their facility data and collaborate with other agencies and their consultants. MAX has existing functioning applications, as well as iFM applications. The FED iFM proof of concept is a series of functioning modules that were used for testing can a full facility life cycle system be built on MAX.gov. These functioning modules can be used as the basis for creating new applications. In Dec. 2014, the FED iFM proof of concept is ready to be evaluated and tested.
How can I participate?
Start by signing up to learn more. Let us know what you are interested in. Facility owners can see how the platform works and what tools are available. Software vendors can evaluate how solutions can link to iFM.
How do we get access to FED iFM on MAX.gov?
US Government agencies can log into MAX.gov and then request access to the FED iFM community on MAX. Consultants and vendors can link their solutions to the iFM Sandbox, and be invited into MAX through a government agency.
What is the FED iFM Sandbox?
The FED iFM Sandbox is a mirror of FED iFM on MAX and available on Amazon Web Services. The FED iFM Proofs of Concept were built first in the AWS Sandbox, and then moved into MAX.gov after passing through a security review. Developers who do not have access to MAX.gov can still create FED iFM applications in the AWS Sandbox.
What are FED iFM Web Services?
Web Services from FED iFM and from MAX.gov are available for developers to link to owner data through RESTful web services. Depending on the data the levels of security vary. For example, medical equipment data and design standards are publicly accessible web services and project data requires authentication.
Does iFM compete with existing applications?
iFM is a new way to structure owner facility data that makes it easier to create applications and maintain information throughout the life cycle. It also is a unique opportunity to link to owner data that in the past was stuck in closed systems behind firewalls. iFM is an opportunity for applications to link to this new owner ecosystem.
Why not just use commercially available software for managing facilities?
There is no single solution that can solve the needs of facility owners. The pattern in the past has been to decide on "one” monolithic solution that kind of covered a lot of needed functionality but invariably does not. Then band aids would be created to “move” data from one application to the next or to “integrate” solutions in one off expensive exercises. The world has dramatically changed in the last few years, and now with simple to use mobile applications complex data can flow as long as it is accessible. iFM is the initiative to facilitate the open flow of information and share resources among owners. Vendors who have existing solutions that link into iFM are being sought as well.
Is FED iFM and iFM “done” and ready to be used?
iFM is constantly evolving. Parts of iFM that are already running on MAX such as SEPS and the 1691 Equipment Database are in production mode and used by many. Other parts such as FED iFM is in proof of concept mode. New functionality will continue to be created and announced here. Since this will always be an evolving process, and this is the still in the early stages, it is the perfect time to jump in.
What is the iFM Foundation?
A core group of owners and industry participants that are building up the future of iFM.
What costs are involved and how do they compare with traditional commercial off the shelf (COTS) and government off the shelf (GOTS) solutions?
Based on initial ROI analysis, it appears there are opportunities for multiple levels of savings. This is related to the flexibility and scalability of this approach to facility data.
Is there an app market place? If apps pay to get better placement on such a site, who would the proceeds go to?
There have been discussions about app market, but this is in the early stage yet, of getting the message out. Owners are looking in on FED iFM to see what solutions emerge that can connect to their data. That would create opportunities for vendors and consultants.
When would the SEPS data be available to the public? Are there instructions provided to follow the correct technical steps to its use?
SEPS Data is hosted on MAX.gov and some of the data is scheduled to be public and other data will be released in stages. Data such as requirements that are already public, are a different security level than project data. The intent is to enable data from SEPS to be used by many levels of users. Access to the public data will be announced on the FEDiFM.org web site.
I realize technology is important, but I respectfully submit far too much time being devoted on tech vs. the business processes and procedures, etc. being enabled and supported. CMMS and CAFM were not defined at the beginning, can regardless of your definition, they are only part of an overall life-cycle management set of competencies.
The SEPS Road Map, looked at this from the business process and procedures as well as the technology perspective. The results of these studies are linked from the FED iFM.org web site at the bottom of the page under “External Links”.
There are a lot of parts to the lifecycle that will need to be worked on. The initial intent of FED iFM is to start a platform that can enable data that is currently trapped in GOTS systems.
MAX.Gov will let local smaller players bid the work too. Big benefits to the economy right there. Small vendors all over the world can tap the decoupled data and solve specific problems in unique environments.
Yes, that is the intent, it provides opportunities for all. The legacy approach is that data is only accessible to some, in specific software.
Won’t COBie be irrelevant once FED iFM is embraced?
COBie is still a part of all this, and helped to define a big part of the overall structure of FED iFM. What will happen is that one does not necessarily need to use COBie or understand COBie or BIM to get to the decoupled data.
Can you provide access to MAX for vendors to look at actual state of the art in it, understand integration concepts as actually used to assess their options and estimate investments necessary to fit into the framework?
Yes, with this introduction we are asking for statements of interest in accessing the FED iFM Sandbox.
Data is to COBie as Data Service is to what?
Data services set the method of how to get to the data. For example if you want to get a list of spaces in a building, there is a RESTful Web Service that allows to request for all spaces in building A. COBie is a standard way to transfer and store data.
I would be interested in helping the Feds streamline the procurement contracts to make those work in this new environment.
Great, would like to hear your ideas. Please look at the guidance in this document: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/procurement/guidance/modular-approaches-for-information-technology.pdf
Do you have any ideas of how to use for FED iFM?
Are there any options for funds available to be one of the first members to integrate with the model. Its a lot easier to jump in when development money is coming from Task Order, but the rest of the vendors are funding out of pocket to hope the effort will be fruitful.
Not at the moment, but all options are being explored. Ideas welcome.
What is the estimated annual cost to sustain the iFM model? Sustainment tasks typically include system administration, customer training, customer support, problem resolution, bug fixes, security updates, system updates (maintaining compatibility among all solution hardware and software components), product enhancements, documentation updates, etc. How will iFM sustainment be funded?
There are ROI evaluations being done by some agencies looking into FED iFM and comparing them to current cost of sustaining legacy systems. Part of the sustainment costs are lower due to the shared services approach of MAX. For example the authenticated log-in does not have to be created over and over. The same intent is for other modules of functionality in FED iFM. The answer to this question will evolve over time.
Did you assess options to use a message bus architecture and if so, why was it discarded?
Web services is what we are starting with. We welcome other ideas that would meet the objectives of FED iFM.
I'd be interested in the group’s view of COBie as a standard. Since iFM is effectively a series of transactions or exchanges of information through we services API is COBie enough information for owners? UK government are pushing COBie as an information deliverable and Uniformat as a classification system.
A lot of the COBie structure was used as the “backbone” of FED iFM and it was created to allow for extensions. We are still looking for input and testing as FED iFM evolves.
In addition to the technology, FED iFM is a cultural shift. Business Process Reengineering (BPR) should be included in the discussions.
We agree, this is a big shift. Small modular steps can be taken. The important first step is to acknowledge this is a challenge industry wide and then to have a platform to start building modules on.
Building a work order system proof of concept in 4 weeks is nice to show how easy to build. But anyone can create a work order prototype in a few weeks.
Yes, we agree building a work order application in isolation or on the developers chosen platform is possible in a short time. The intent was not to build a work order application but to test can an application be built on the MAX platform with FED iFM standards by a developer who does not have any prior experience or knowledge of FED iFM and MAX.gov.
Building a work order system proof of concept in 4 weeks is not possible.
The work order application was a functioning proof of concept. See previous question and response.
I like the security of MAX.gov. It will make it easier to solve security problems in building applications to be used by owners and for government agencies.
The intent of shared services on MAX such as the security log in, was to make it easier and faster to build solutions that support the needs of owners.
How are major players going to be part of this? Don’t agree with keeping data outside of vendor’s software, which means vendors will need to rebuild their applications to do this. This is a big effort, every vendor will have to build a new software to link to FED iFM which would be major. RESTful web service that they can plug and play then it is ok, but to rebuild applications will be major.
Each vendor will need to evaluate how their solutions fit into FED iFM. Many owners already have established solutions and will not adopt FED iFM as a whole. There will be hybrid environments that evolve over time. Some solutions that are able to communicate through APIs or that are capable of linking modules of their applications to FED iFM will demonstrate the functionality that is needed.
The RESTful API is great, and will make it easy to connect to FED iFM.
The proofs of concept demonstrate this is possible.
As a consultant we deliver solutions to our clients. Getting direct access to client data such as was shown in FED iFM will save us a lot of time and manual entry of data. We would rather connect and consume owner data rather than create work arounds to manually manage poorly structured data.
We are encouraging advanced teams that have solutions to evaluate how FED iFM can help them deliver for their projects.
Regarding the open APIs and publishing data you talked a lot less about what those APIs look like and what format the data is in, and what are the primary repositories for the data. Is any of that info available?
Yes, we plan on having follow on discussions about the FED iFM sandbox and how the APIs and data are structured.
We would like to learn more and discuss COBie implementation issues we have experienced that maybe iFM could help address and also for us to see if there are other related opportunities to build off of this platform.
COBie was a central part of FED iFM. The intent was to use COBie as a baseline and extend FED iFM to support the needs of the lifecycle. We welcome input and ideas, and will be sharing more of the results of FED iFM as they become available.