‘between Brexit and an augmented place…’


I was recently asked by Mark Herring, Founder and CEO of Urbano and now Editor of their hardcopy only magazine ‘O’ to write an article relating to BIM for the launch issue.

My article is sandwiched in between a Brexit one and a virtual/augmented reality one, here’s why I think it’s pretty good place to be…

‘Never waste a good crisis’ said Andrew Wolstenholme in his report entitled with the same phrase in 2009; it was timely then as the global financial crisis took hold and it’s equally timely now as the UK and Europe struggles to understand the impact of the Brexit decision and attempts to predict what the longer term challenges might be.  Bringing this into the context of the construction industry, yes we should be concerned and yes we should determine how our respective businesses will be affected.

It’s certain that every part of the industry will be affected in one way or another by Brexit – just as it is with BIM.

One of the great misunderstandings of BIM is that the focus is on software and a 3D model – this is also, in my experience, the opinion of almost everyone outside the UK.  The UK Government definition of BIM Level 2 has been created to ensure that it makes sense legally and commercially for the industry as a whole.  Models and software don’t do this… standards and processes do.

So with this defined quasi-LEAN process as a backdrop and building on the platform that the UK Government has created by requiring the creation and use of consistently structured documents and data – we should look to our own daily work and ask ‘how can I make the most of this?’ or ‘where is my work wasteful?’.  It’s only through understanding this that each and every one of us begin to really see what is next for BIM.  The opportunities are evolving (or appearing) every day with new research findings, new technology and new business models.

Implementation of a BIM Level 2 process leads to further enhancements and better workflows that are possible right now, enabling each and every part of the supply chain to make their own efficiencies and drive waste out of their businesses.

I say this wholeheartedly and sincerely when I recommend that once you understand what BIM Level 2 is, you adopt it selfishly.  I realise that this somewhat contradicts the ‘collaborative’ nature that we promote but by making it work for what YOU do, collaborating with others later becomes so much easier.

So try new processes, use new software, reduce waste and rework (yes, of course design evolution is OK!), create scripts and clever calculations, share your work with confidence and do it all in the common (information) language that the industry has created.  All of this is perhaps ‘beyond BIM Level 2’ as the UK Government cleverly left the ‘how’ part out of the process, empowering the industry with the ability to innovate, solve and deliver the required information in the most suitable way.

Looking further ahead and more widely, hanging other information from this structure or ‘overlaying’ information such as the wealth of unutilised data reported by sensors already installed within many Building Management Systems, or new sensor installation for Clever /Smart Buildings, domestic scale IOT devices all the way through to smart city scale interventions… the opportunities to ‘better’ our environment, our work, our lives are huge.

We will enable better communication in the circular economy with all parts of the industry sharing and reusing product/business/building/community/city/country/world information in a common language – globally.  Let’s not forget that whilst we speak of UK Government mandates, our standards are in the process of being written as globally applicable ISO’s.

All of the above is made so much easier with the transparency, traceability and responsibility that comes with the fundamental principles of a true BIM Level 2 process.

Add to this the proliferation of technology into our personal lives – using the information we create and communicating it in new and more relevant ways than a sheet of printed paper allows us to reach our new (younger) audience whilst engaging our current client base in ways never before affordably realistic.  As I write this, I’m at an AR+VR conference and the buzz here is amazing.  You can see that we are truly at the point whereby commercially available software, domestic scale hardware and the wave of industry change allows us to create content that can be shared in amazingly creative and engaging ways.  This again brings our industry into sight of our next generation.

At the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) BIM conference on October 19th, Mark Bew MBE Chair of the Government’s BIM Task Group announced the formal launch of Digital Built Britain (or BIM Level 3 as it is sometimes referred to) heralding in a new generation of smart infrastructure and construction.

After the original publication of the Digital Built Britain vision in February 2015 and the subsequent inclusion in the Government’s 2016 Budget, we can see now that BIM is now more than ever, moving out of the domain of the niche specialists and into the mainstream economy. The press release announces:

Digital Built Britain, first announced in the 2016 budget, will deliver reductions in whole-life costs and carbon emissions, whilst improving productivity and capacity by using intelligent building information models, sensing technology and secure data and information infrastructure. Digital Built Britain will also continue the work of the globally recognised BIMTask Group programme, set up in 2011 to deliver up to 20% savings on costs of major projects.

(the full press release can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/launch-of-digital-built-britain )

I for one am excited about what the immediate and long term future brings to the industry I love – the transparency, the enhanced communication, the reliability of shared information, the beautiful and sustainable places we will create but above all the ‘trust’ that this evolution brings.  You should be excited too, just don’t waste this ‘Brexit crisis’.  The solutions are out there to grow your business whilst understanding the uncertainty we are currently working within.



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