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“We’ve been on a real journey as an industry these last four years” says David Philp, Head of BIM at the UK Government’s BIM Task Group and BIM Director EMEA for AECOM. Filmed at BIMnet in June 2015, his compelling progress update comes in the year running-up to the much-publicised Level 2 mandate. “Completing the Level 2 documentation this summer gets us to the starting line” he explains. “Everyone talks about 2016 as if it’s an end, but for me it’s just the beginning”.
Starting with a look back, David recognises the significant impact that BIM has had since first appearing in the UK Government Construction Strategy back in 2011. An industry-wide conversation has started and it’s held a mirror-up to poor procurement practices and an adversarial culture. “We’ve tried to re-brand quite a bit as well” adds David. “For young people construction is now looking a lot more innovative and technologically advanced”.
Several other task groups are now appearing around the world and international standards are becoming a real focus. Perhaps most notable is the new EU BIM Task Group, uniting 28 member states in a European-wide drive for BIM adoption.
“Everyone talks about 2016 as if it’s an end, but for me it’s just the beginning”.
The role of the Client has changed significantly too, with new emphasis on responsibilities to enable digitised working by laying firm foundations from the outset.
However, David is quick to point out that a digital approach cannot be enabled by Clients alone. Ensuring that we as an industry are ‘intelligent data users’ is of equal importance and there remains some way to go: “Collaborative common data environments and structured information were requirements of BS 1192 published back in 2007. We talk about doing Level 2 BIM, the reality is I don’t think most folks are doing Level 1”.
The key to overcoming this is to focus project teams onto their Client’s desired business outcomes. Only then can we determine what meaningful data will add value and support their operations; only then can we provide the right data at the right point to support decision making.
Looking beyond Level 2 – often acknowledged as the BIM ‘half-landing’ – David describes Level 3 and the UK Government’s Digital Built Britain strategy as the ‘Holy Grail’.
At Level 3 social performance becomes the primary objective; enabling the assets we deliver to powerfully support end-users in achieving their business outcomes, whilst underpinning the broader actions of our society and culture.
The principal aspects of the Task Group’s business plan for BIM Level 3 include increased focus on lifecycle management and the use of real time cost and carbon data. It also seeks more service and performance based approaches, and the connection of built assets into the wider Internet of Things and smart cities.
Pointing to other industries making great use of real time data, David highlights Formula 1 teams and their clear focus on making cars go faster: “We need to leverage the data in our buildings with the same mind-set to enhance outcomes for our Clients and wider society” he says.
"We talk about doing Level 2 BIM, I don’t think most folks are doing Level 1"
However, the new approach advocated in the Digital Built Britain strategy will of course present new challenges and considerations. David highlights human factors and that having the right data will not always mean we take the right decisions based upon it. He’s also frank with the timescales for delivering new tools and cultural change, suggesting that mobilisation for Level 3 could take twice as long as Level 2.
Despite the inevitable considerations that go with the territory, David is up-beat about the industry’s digital future: “Level 3 is the game changer, it’s the paradigm shift. Where Level 2 was deterministic in nature, Level 3 is more real time and probabilistic. There has never been a more exciting time to be part of this whole thing called the built environment”.
BIMnet is a UK-based networking event run by Plowman Craven, AECOM, Levitt Bernstein and Bespoke Careers. Follow them on Twitter @BIMnetwork and join in with all the discussion via #BIMnet. Events are free and open to all; you can register for future sessions here: http://www.bimnet.co.uk/index.cfm/main/register
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