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buildingSMART, formerly the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI), is an international organisation which aims to improve the exchange of information between software applications used in the construction industry. It has developed Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs) as a neutral and open specification for Building Information Models (BIM).

buildingSMART is an international, non-for-profit organization that has been established to support companies within the AEC/FM industries on "“The route to integrated project working in design, construction and facilities management”. Its vision is "To provide a universal basis for process improvement and information sharing in the design, construction and facilities management industries". buildingSMART is represented internationally as buildingSMART International Ltd. and regionally by buildingSMART chapters.

buildingSMART is the new name and brand of the International Alliance for Interoperability, IAI. It is the same organization. Since the foundation of IAI, now buildingSMART, the development of an international format to exchange and share building information has been a core activity. The Industry Foundation Classes, IFC, are the continuous outcome of the mission "buildingSMART is integrated project working and value-based life cycle management using Building Information Modelling and IFC".

The IFC specification is copyrighted by buildingSMART international, an international non-for-profit industry alliance. Established in 1995 buildingSMART is a long-standing organization that continuously develops and maintains IFC as part of its mission. The IFC specification is a neutral and open specification that is not controlled by a singular vendor or group of vendors. It is freely available on the web.

IFC represents a data schema for sharing construction and facility management data across various applications used in the AEC/FM industry domain. It is an object-oriented data schema based on class definitions representing the objects (such as building elements, spaces, properties, shapes, etc.) that are used by different software applications used in construction or facility management project.

BIM stands either for the verb "Building Information Modelling", i.e. for an integrated process of designing, engineering, constructing and maintaining a building based on a consistent and shareable computer representation of the facility including both graphical and non-graphical information. Or for the noun "Building Information Model", i.e. a digital representation of the building in software based on object information combining graphical and non-graphical properties. BIM Software often relates to 3D and object-based CAD. 
IFC is an open standard to represent the information in a building information model that can be used to openly exchange and share this information among many different software systems. It supports BIM as "a computable representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility and its related project/life-cycle information using open industry standards to inform business decision making for realizing better value (NIBS - Facility Information Council)"