The Forensics and Property Loss Consulting teams at Thornton Tomasetti have been working to develop forensic information modelling (FIM). FIM illustrates the relationship between data and the physical structure, with the goal of producing a clear explanation for our clients, an audience that may or may not have a technical background.

The key to FIM is the fieldwork and data collection process. Tablets are used in the field to collect data, which is then transferred to a cloud-based database in real time. During fieldwork, an engineer is able to ‘drop a pin’ on the location of damage, and the associated data can be linked to a line item on a spreadsheet, ultimately creating a damage matrix that can easily be sorted, filtered and integrated into a model.

Image: FIM New Zealand crack model (© Thornton Tomasetti)

As a final step, the Thornton Tomasetti CORE studio exports the model to a FIM viewer and develops a user-friendly interface.

When the model is finalised, the engineer or client can highlight the member of interest and view the information associated with it, typically indicating the extent of damage.

The end product of FIM is an easy-to-understand 3D model, which can communicate complex findings effectively to clients and the public. FIM streamlines the use of multiple applications, allowing data to be collected and displayed in a simplified manner.

FIM in Practice: (Grain Elevator Forensic Information Model)

In 2008, a fire and subsequent dust explosion at a grain elevator caused extensive damage to the 45-year-old facility. The owner took the opportunity during reconstruction to substantially upgrade the system. We were hired in support of claim arbitration by a solicitor representing the insurance companies to document and illustrate the condition of the facility before (blue) and after (red), to show what equipment had been added. We pored through tens of thousands of documents and developed an interactive, 3D Revit-based forensic information model to clearly depict the before and after conditions of the facility, leading to a speedy settlement of the arbitration.

Image: Slices of the 3D forensic information model, showing the facility as built in 1963 (blue) and equipment added following reconstruction after the explosion (red). (© Thornton Tomasetti)

To find out more about similar Thornton Tomasetti Forensics projects, click here.