3D BIM and information
If we were to take a straw poll across the industry for a single word response to sum up BIM many of the responses would no doubt still come back the same – 3D.
While there are undoubtedly myriad benefits to be had in moving from 2D to 3D – just as there was in moving from paper to electronic-paper (2D) – ranging from better spatial coordination to rich customer walk-throughs, the benefits arising from 3D are only the tip of the iceberg.
It is no accident that the primary focus of next year’s UK Government BIM mandate is on the middle – Information. It is better information which yields better outcomes, and if the quality, validity and provenance of data embedded in information-rich 3D models is incomplete, poor or unreliable then any expected benefits arising from the migration to 3D BIM software should be questioned. Buying MS Word does not make you a novelist.
Information – the centre of BIM
Business Collaborator’s Sanjeev Shah (CEO) and Stephen Crompton (CTO) have always taken the line that information management should lie at the centre of BIM and that while pretty visuals make for great sales demos – and we speak from first hand experience – BIM is so much more than just a different way to view the design.
BIM is about consuming and surfacing data from and to the right people, at the right time, in the right format throughout the lifecycle of an asset. Better data and better data access drives better outcomes and without it BIM is nearly as useless as a spreadsheet residing on a lone computer, where every cell takes a different format and every row has a different number of cells.
This isn’t achieved by keeping data locked inside proprietary designs. Business Collaborator have for years extolled the view that this can only be done by freeing the data and making it available to both people and systems via a Common Data Environment (CDE). And not just any CDE, but a CDE built around the open, linked data standards of the Semantic Web.
Successfully advising the UK Government
Having advised the UK Government’s BIM Task Group since 2010, Business Collaborator has long recognised that 3D BIM modelling software is only as good as the data feeding it, irrespective of how pleasing the visuals may be. Being the only CDE and Project Extranet vendor in the leadership team responsible for the 2011 BIM Strategy Paper – which led to the UK Government’s BIM mandate – we believe our focus on information and data is the best strategy for realising BIM’s true potential.
The ‘Level 2 BIM’ mandate
And, whilst we’re only one year away from the UK Government’s 2016 BIM mandate, we believe that the one truly advantageous BIM solution – one which delivers efficiency, quality and cost savings – relies on the power of several equally important components and not just on the 3D BIM modelling software itself:
- a common data environment (CDE) comprising a Semantic BIM Data Server and Project Collaboration tool (BC 6.3)
- Linked Data from multiple sources (suppliers, asset owners etc.) that can be distributed over many locations without changing the original location of the source information. This can be both internal (from organisational systems) and external (from published data sources on the web).
- data processes, standards and quality assurance to guide the supply chain through the provision of data (BC Assure).
- a BIM module that is fully integrated with the common data environment (CDE) including a BIM Viewer that can be used by all project stakeholders through a web browser – rather than via a piece of proprietary software individually loaded on to each user’s computer.
Data, information and collaboration
BIM is the coordinated capture and usage of data about a building throughout that building’s lifetime. By combining the traditional geometric definition of a building with the associated data – which Business Collaborator does – it’s clear that the focus of BIM software vendors should be on the data, information and collaboration first (the latter with clearly defined purpose, as highlighted by David Philp) and the 3D BIM modelling software second.
As Steve Crompton said back in 2012,, “…without the information, without the ‘I’ in BIM, BIM is just BM – Basically Meaningless.”