UK BIM Level 2 – What is the fuss all about? Does it really matter?

“Today is BIM Mandate Day!” – so said some news releases on the 4th of April a few weeks ago.

With great timing I was delivering a BIM Level 2 course for Digital Node and BSI in Birmingham the same day!

Back in 2011, the then newly published Government Construction Strategy said this:

“2.32 Government will require fully collaborative BIM level 2 (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) as a minimum by 2016. The staged plan will be published with mandated milestones showing measurable progress at the end of each year. “

From that time on many working groups, Regional Hubs now the BIM Regions, BIM4 groups, standards, reports, and all kinds of things have occurred. Not to forget the constant stream of conferences, seminars, webinars, and publications with BIM as the theme.

I guess the question is does this really have any significance for our industry, the built environment and to get personal – you and me. What does this mean to your business, your team, and your project?

Not surprisingly the answer has to be Yes as this is critically important and it is also intensely significant for us all, but not only for the reasons you might think.

“The mandate” from the Construction Strategy 2011 has kept BIM on the industry agenda at a time when we’ve been climbing out of the worst recession in living memory. However the mandate applies to the public sector, currently 40% of UK construction spend. The hope was that this would provide sufficient pull to drag the private sector along the same path, and to some extent this approach has been successful with several leading developers and institutions committing to the use of BIM on their projects and portfolios.

So the mandate has driven change but doesn’t apply necessarily to the private sector and some still use this as an excuse not to do BIM at all.

Another reason for the significance of BIM might be the benefits it realises for everyone involved in the project process at whatever stage. This might mean reduction of risk and waste, increased profitability and efficiency, with resulting productivity and quality gains, and greater efficiencies in operations and life cycle management. Certainly from a UK Gov perspective it is for these gains in operational management that the BIM programme exists. Even these of themselves are good reasons or drivers but they aren’t overwhelming. They make good sense. Close but no cigar…

To find an overwhelming argument for the adoption of BIM, digital ways of working and processes we need to look elsewhere. Outside the industry. Let’s just try society in general.

Our whole lives are migrating into the digital world. We use bankcards, Internet, email, text, messaging, phones, social media of all kinds. For each of us now there is a huge digital footprint already out there. Which all kinds of organisations with their Big Data machines can access, use, track and aggregate to analyse our spending trends, holidays, journeys we make and so on.

The Internet of Things and the Internet of Everything means that all around us buildings, machines and devices exchange data. Smart buildings and cities will only accelerate this trend. Untouched by human hand, the IOT and IOE devices are having conversations behind our backs as it where, Usually this is for our benefit (so we are told) but not always….:o)

More and more data about us, our lives and environment will end up in the Cloud. This in turn creates the pull for data from everything. This includes data from a digitised built environment. This can only be achieved by our industry using BIM, digital construction and associated technologies and ways of working.

Within a relatively short period, a few years perhaps, whatever your role or business, wherever you are in the food chain in the built environment industry, you will need to be able to use and manipulate digital information to transact business. And then very soon it will become “no data = no business” or perhaps more personally “no data = no job” and consequent financial oblivion.

So we can see whichever driver you want to choose – the mandate, the benefits or the digitisation of society, they are all moving in one and the same direction. This is a one-way street, one direction, no going back.

In a digital industry and a global information based economy it will be those that have responded and adapted that will be successful. Many have already begun that transition, many haven’t. Some are already seeing the benefits in increased productivity and profitability.

It is not too late to start your journey …………..yet! But there is a window of opportunity and it is slowly closing.

If you haven’t begun your journey to Level 2 BIM then now is the time. What are you going to do? What are you waiting for?

JOHNEYNON. is a journeyman architect, design manager, writer and blogger. You can catch up with him at http://www.zenanddm.com

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