Over the past few months, I have seen and heard a lot of talk about "Level 2" and meeting the government mandate for BIM in the UK. Across Twitter, in bars over #bimbeers, and with many of my colleagues too, it has been a hard subject to avoid.
So it was with some interest that I recently saw the release of the "Digital Built Britain" paper. In the context of the present discussion, it brought up an opportunity to spend time future gazing, and for a short while at least, drifting away from the discussion of today and allowing myself to consider what "Level 3" might look like and involve.
It's very easy to see the UK BIM mandate as an isolated local policy, that doesn't apply to a global construction industry. PAS1192, COBie, IFC and Common Data Environment discussions dominate many platforms, and more than once I have heard debates about the relevance beyond these shores.
However, I think this merely highlights a wider shift in focus that is happening on a global stage. The concept of BIM, and its application to construction projects, is no longer in its infancy. Those who have not yet begun their journey largely accept that it is the future, and recognize the benefits (UK Government report £1.4Bn in 3yrs, with £840m attributed to construction in 2013). Focus, and therefore conversation, is now moving onto the next level. Focus is moving away from model and geometry and zeroing in on data and information - the "I" in BIM. And in construction, this is particularly true, as general contractors find themselves contracted to digital data deliverables such as COBie and IFC. With these deliverables in contract, attention is swiftly moving from the means to the process, and underpinning that is QA/QC and fidelity, change management and construction intelligence.
At a high level, it is evident that construction firms are increasingly finding themselves fulfilling the role of 'information manager', responsible for curating the data as it transitions through a construction project. Typically this will involve the inheritance of an information model from a design team, to delivery of that asset, to an owner/operator who has ambitions to leverage this for the lifecycle management phase of the asset. But that curation phase presents all sorts of challenges to today's contractor. Where did the information come from? Who touched it through the construction process? How did we control the evolution of that information, and what have we delivered? All massive questions.
As I start my role as product manager for BIM 360, I enter at an extremely exciting time. In this "Level 2" context, and at the dawn of a vision for "Level 3", there are many questions to be answered. As we look forward as a team, we set a roadmap that looks to balance this context and those answers within the familiar landscape of today's tools. I'm excited that with BIM 360, we are starting that journey with a toolset that lives in the cloud, connects to the design phase, and curates that information through the construction lifecycle, and beyond. As we move into a world where that toolset begins to consider the conditioning of that data, where do you think all of this is heading?