Dr Alan Hore is one of the Founders of the CitA. Alan is a Chartered Quantity Surveyor, and is the Assistant Head of School in the School of Surveying and Construction Management in Dublin Institute of Technology. He has extensive experience in industry, academia and research.
Here Alan talks to BIMIreland.ie about the CitA BIM Gathering 2015, BIM in Irish Construction, and BIM education and research.
Please tell us how you got interested in Information Technology in construction?
I was always interested in how the quality of information could be improved to reduce conflict and disputes in our industry. The basis of any contract is founded on information. If this information could be more accurately formulated prior to tender, this would lead to greater cost certainly and better project outcomes for all. IT makes this possible. There will always be a need for mechanisms to be put in place to assist in dispute resolution but there are so many that we can avoid if we can use IT, like BIM tools, to create better and more complete co-ordinated information.
Is BIM a prominent research topic in DIT? Could you describe some of the research projects?
It is prominent in DIT. We introduced a new School of Multidisciplinary Technologies in recent years, which signals our commitment to the importance of digitisation in the future of our engineering and construction industry. I and other colleagues are working with a number of postgraduate students working on a range of BIM related projects, focusing on change management and other BIM related research themes that focus on driving out waste and inefficiencies in our industry. One such project involves my current work with Barry McAuley on leveraging the particular benefits of BIM for the Facilities Management sector.
Are you satisfied with the quality of BIM research in Ireland?
Yes. It is early days and it is challenging, like in any research field, to get an overview of the breadth and depth of research work taking place in Ireland. It would be nice to see a Centre of Excellence for BIM set up in Ireland. There is some important work been carried out in the HEIs in Ireland but the challenge is measuring its impact and its overall contribution to the global BIM conversation.
Have you any upcoming research projects in DIT or CitA?
Yes, the BIM Innovation Capability Programme (BICP) for Ireland will commence in early 2016. This programme, which is funded by Enterprise Ireland, will seek to capture the capability of the Irish construction industry and HEIs to respond to the increased requirement for BIM on Irish construction and engineering projects. The outputs of this project will seek to influence the strategic use of BIM by key clients and procurement policy makers in Ireland.
What steps should be taken to get a BIM mandate for Ireland?
The Irish approach will differ to that of the UK. A large number of Irish AEC businesses have responded to the UK BIM Mandate and are reaping the benefits. I recently experienced this during Digital Construction Week (DCW) in London back in October. The work of CitA over the past number of years I believe has helped to create a more bottom up approach in comparison to the UK. Following DCW and the recent CitA BIM Gathering conference, there is a real momentum here for the constituent representative groups within the Construction Industry Council in Ireland to work together to better prepare their members to embrace BIM.
What were the standout moments of the recent CitA BIM Gathering?
It is hard to pick out a single moment, there were so many. It struck me early on the first day that the venue was filling up very quickly and there was a genuine thirst from delegates to learn more about the potential for BIM. At the opening reception for the conference it was humbling to meet people from Canada, USA and from across Europe. The keynotes speakers were all fantastic, as were the breakout presentations I attended. Above all, I was proud to be Irish and of how innovative Irish AEC businesses were.
What do you think attendees were most pleased with at the Gathering?
The conversation and the networking were very business-like. Delegates were very impressed with the keynote messages and the general quality of the breakout sessions. It became apparent that Ireland was BIM ready. There was so much positive commentary on Twitter and LinkedIn following the event which was great to see.
How do you see the Irish construction industry changing in the next decade?
The Irish construction sector will become more innovative, dynamic and sustainable as it responds to more sophisticated demands from clients. The next decade will see an intensification of the digital revolution impacting on the AEC, as it has in other sectors. The merging of BIM and lean will mean that Irish AEC businesses will need to respond or be left behind. It is difficult to predict the future, but for sure change is coming and rapidly.
Will BIM affect the duties and responsibilities of the professions?
Yes. It is inevitable. You can’t introduce a technology and expect no change. The professions as we know them will remain intact but the strategic importance of information for all the professions will need to come to the fore. The commercial behaviour and interaction of the professions is dictated by our procurement and contractual landscape, which will need to change if we are to make positive progress.
Could you please tell us about CitA and what it offers the construction industry?
CitA is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes the benefits of digitisation in the Irish construction industry. The Alliance reaches out to all stakeholders in the construction industry. CitA offers members access to an informative event programme and discount on their CitA skillnet training programmes. Above all CitA offers an opportunity to network and leverage new business opportunities. The recent formation of the new CitA BIM Regions will really help to disseminate the CitA BIM conversation across Ireland.
How can organisations and individuals join CitA?
They can log-on to the website, email, or get on the phone to Suzanne Purcell. There is a tiered subscription rate for businesses of different sizes. The message I would have is to join the Alliance, get involved, and reap the benefits. You won’t be disappointed.
The Gathering was a success. The next one is planned for 2017. How would you like to see the Gathering developing?
We would like to see it become a recognised respected event in the international BIM calendar. We plan to make the next event larger and have a more global reach. 2017 will see many flagship Irish BIM projects mature between now and the next gathering, such as the DIT Grangegorman Campus and the New Children’s Hospital, which will be great for delegates to see.
DIT offers a number of postgraduate BIM courses, and there are BIM modules on undergraduate courses. What are your observations when students engage on multidisciplinary BIM projects?
They see the bigger picture, they learn about the work of other professions, they see the importance of information and the need to work together for the delivery of better project outcomes. It’s the future, and we need to engage with the youth if we are to see change in the future.
The Gathering was a well organised event. Could you tell us what goes into planning such an event?
It’s a team effort. CitA are fortunate to employ some exceptionally good people who are committed to creating quality events. The first thing you do is get some good people involved in the organisation of the event that represents the various stakeholder groups. We were fortunate to have some great people, who we worked with on both the 2013 BIM Gathering and the 2014 Technology Challenge. In addition, the call for formal conference papers required the formation of a scientific committee, made up of academics from across the globe. We set about painting a picture of the messages we wanted to portray at the event, which I believed we achieved with our selection of our keynote speakers. Dr Shawn O’Keeffe of Headcount Engineering was very helpful in this regard. In addition, we were fortunate to attract support from a number of well-known and respected software companies, who helped make the event viable to host. A big thanks to all who helped.
Are you considering any new CitA courses?
CitA are always looking at new programme opportunities, in addition to continuously improving CitA’s current offering. CitA are fortunate to have a partnership arrangement with DIT in the delivery of its online MSc in Construction Informatics. Future plans include adding additional modules to cater for the construction and operation phases of the construction lifecycle.
What has CitA planned for 2016?
The big challenge for CitA in 2016 is to facilitate a much closer working relationship with the institutional representatives of the SCSI, CIF, Engineers Ireland, AECI and the RIAI, in shaping a more integrated future. 2016 will see the continuation of the Smarter Building Series, which we hope will include the more visible involvement of these groups. The theme for 2016 will be “Building Capability”, which will be complimented by the BICP project referred to earlier. In 2016 we are hoping to hear about more Irish case studies and commissioning clients in Ireland. We will also see the return of the CitA Smart Collaboration Challenge. There are a number of other initiatives that CitA are currently looking at also.
Is there anything you would like to say to the readers?
I would like to thank everyone for supporting CitA over the past 15 years. It’s been a fantastic journey. In particular, I would like to thank the conference management team, committee members, delegates, sponsors, speakers and the keynotes for helping make the CitA BIM Gathering event such a success. I hope that the readers will see the increasing relevance of CitA in 2016 and beyond and to get involved in the digital conversation of an integrated future.
What documents should those interested in BIM, be reading?
CitA BIM Gathering Proceedings:
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