It may well be a world first! It’s definitely a ‘world famous in New Zealand’ move. After a decade of diligently digitising the way we solve engineering problems, we are sharing our secrets. Yes, we consider this IP to have significant value. And yet earlier this month, BVT shared some of our methods publicly by releasing an ‘Open Source’ python library on GitHub. Anyone can find it and use it for their own purposes.

Before we dive into the ‘why’ BVT would choose to freely give away this hard work, let’s have a look at a few software terms.

What is the difference between open source software (OSS) and closed source software (CSS)?

With closed source software (also known as proprietary software), the public is not given access to the source code, so they can’t see or modify it in any way. But with open source software, the source code is openly available to anyone who wants to use it. Programmers can go further, and can adapt and integrate the code into their own programmes.

The advantages for open source and closed source

When you provide open source code it means it can be checked and challenged by others. It also means others can build on it and improve it. As interest grows, more people get involved and the code evolves faster with greater and greater improvements. Open source code fosters collaboration as the code is transparent and available. Collaboration fosters creativity and innovation.

With closed source software, only the original authors can access, copy and alter the code. This reduces the amount of input and collaboration, but provides greater levels of security. It also allows for a paid model which can in turn mean greater user support can be offered. Because there is an owner, it allows liability to be more easily applied.

What have BVT shared?

In September 2021 BVT shared our first two python function packages. The packages are based on the NZS 1170.0 and 1170.5 standards, and currently give the necessary functions to calculate the earthquake loads on parts. We’ll be working to extend these packages over the coming months to include the functions for more complex structures.

Who can use them, and how?

Anyone can access the code, but in its current form it is most likely to be relevant to engineers and developers. The code has been shared in the code repository called Github. You can find the BVT code here.

To make the move from reading the code, to putting it into action (ie. solving your engineering queries), it can be run on a platform such as Colab. A platform such as Colab allows you to run (execute) the code on your web browser and is a great bridge into the development world for engineers who are more familiar with Excel.

Now for the ‘Why’

The great thing about sharing this information is that the more brains we have working on it, the better it will become. Not only that, when one person makes an improvement, we all benefit. Over time, the more efficiently we can perform the standard engineering questions, the more efficiency we can bring to the AEC industry. Finally, the transparency of open source makes peer review easy. Methods can be reviewed, rather than project calculation sets, before design on a project has even started, let alone been built.

If you would like some more information on how to access and use our libraries of code for AS/NZS 1170.0 and NZS 1170.5, please get in touch. We’d love to see our hard work being leveraged for the advancement of our industry.