Communic: virtual model for infrastructure projects

When a local community accepts a project to build a road or a bridge within its boundaries, a complete set of trades need to live together throughout the construction period, from the engineering company that designs it, to the public works contractor, including utility companies (water, electricity, etc.), landscape architects, etc.

The problem consists of exchanging data without losing or transforming information.  Exchanges are very often made nowadays in the form of paper drawings or computer files that are superposed to obtain an overall plan.  This can lead to ambiguous drawings that are difficult to read, resulting in misinterpretations or even mistakes on site, particularly if the players use different conventions or languages.

The purpose of the Communic project is to provide these persons with another means of representing the project, namely the 3D display.  The digital model offers a realistic and preliminary view of projects by means of simulation and optimisation.  The purpose of this use is to facilitate the different steps:  cooperative work between direct players (property managers, designers, manufacturers, operators, financers, etc.), evaluations of performance and environmental, economic and society impacts of the project and communication with influential players (Councillors, administrations, associations, neighbours, etc.).

Specific applications

The project began with an analysis of existing practices to identify obstacles to cooperative work and the use of a digital model.  Experience from other activity sectors (like aeronautics, shipyards or buildings) is also studied so that it can be reused.

Specific proposals for change will then be submitted:  interoperability specification between computer tools, guide for operating experience with experimental applications.  The project will be completed by specific practical applications that can be used to detect application difficulties in a real context.

The success of the approach depends very much on everyone concerned getting involved.  Thus, information meetings and discussions will be organised by sector and by theme.

CSTB's contribution to this project is its experience in digital modelling as applied to buildings and its knowledge of exchanges according to the IFC standard.  Visual reproduction makes use of the EVE (Enriched Virtual Environments) platform, at small scale on a conventional computer workstation or at large scale in the Le Corbusier® immersion Room.

Scaffolding for the Trois Bassins viaduct in Réunion Island

The project in figures

Communic is labelled by the Sustainable Town and Mobility competitiveness cluster.  It was selected following the Urban Civil Engineering Network call for projects issued by the National Research Agency in 2006. 
It was notified in April 2007 for a 3-year duration.  The research cost is estimated at 2 M€ (ANR financing = 610 k€).



  • Egis (project coordinator)
  • Setec TPI


  • Bouygues Travaux Publics (Public Works)
  • Eiffage Travaux Publics
  • Vinci Construction France

Academic partners

  • Centre de Recherche en Gestion (Management Research Centre) (CNRS)
  • CSTB
  • IREX
  • LCPC
  • University of Marne la Vallée