The Future Scope of BIM (and BIM related services)

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Thinking of starting a business related to Building Information Modelling (BIM)? Or wondering what BIM might mean to the future of your current business or profession? BIMIreland.ie asked BIM consultant, Ralph Montague, Managing Partner of ArcDox, to give our readers some thoughts on what the future of BIM and related businesses and services might be.

Think about this statement for a minute:
“…in our digital future, every building will have a Building Information Model – a digital copy of itself…” 

This is definitely not true today. In fact, very few buildings have a Building Information Model, and fewer again are actively using BIM for daily operations, maintenance, or transactions. And some may argue, that we have successfully designed, built, used, operated, maintained and transacted in buildings for thousands of years without BIM, so why do we need BIM?

But what is true today, is that the “information” about buildings is generally poor, out-of-date, inaccurate, buried in some static paper-based documents, or in some cases completely missing. And when it comes to carrying out operational or maintenance tasks, emergency response, or transactions in buildings, there is usually an associated, expensive and time-consuming exercise, of searching for information, or surveying and recreating information, in order to complete the task. While buildings may start their life with a good set of information, contained in documents, drawings and schedules, it is very difficult to maintain these thousands of separate documents, and so generally they are not kept up-to-date, and loose value over time. Also, it can be very difficult to find the relevant information you are looking for, within a static (paper-based) set of separate documents, drawings or schedules, and often it is easier to simply re-survey and recreate information, as and when you need it. So, while we can operate, maintain and transact in buildings with poor information, it isn’t the most effective or efficient way of working. There is a definite cost associated with poor information. It is a cost, that people have just accepted, and built into their business models. But it is there.

The “beautiful idea” or concept of BIM is that you would have a digital copy of the physical reality. A “virtual building”. An object-based model that would contain all the relevant information you need to operate, maintain, and transact in a digital, searchable, accessible, accurate database. A “single source of truth” of information about the building. It is far easier to develop and maintain the information of a building within this environment, compared to trying to maintain thousands of separate documents, drawings, or schedules, and therefore there is a better chance that it can be maintained. Also, it is far easier to search for information, and use it for many purposes, in this digital environment, and therefore it has more value, compared to the thousands of separate static or paper-based documents, drawing or schedules. Good quality information will save time, and money in daily operations, maintenance, and transactions in buildings. Good quality information is digital, searchable, accessible, accurate and useful information. And the ultimate expression of good quality information for buildings is a digital replica of the physical reality – a BIM. That is why, as more and more people begin to understand this idea, they will want BIM for their building, and “…in our digital future, every building will have a Building Information Model – a digital copy of itself…”

Now think about that last statement again. Think about how many buildings there are in the world. Think of the opportunities for new jobs, new services, new products. Every building will need a Common Data Environment (CDE) to store the digital copy of itself. Every building will need an “Information Manager” to look after the digital copy of itself. Think of how many people will need to be educated for this new reality. Think of how much technology will need to be implemented. Think about what will begin to happen as you connect this digital data to live sensors and building systems. Think of the amazing insights you will gain, as an individual, as an organisation, when you begin to have access to live, real-time digital data of all your buildings. Think of the amazing insights we will gain, as a local community, a town, a city, a country, as we begin to have access to the digital data of our built environment. Think about the opportunities that will emerge, as this network of digital data about the built environment becomes more “connected” – the internet of buildings.

The “future scope of BIM” is vast, and exciting. And therefore, by extension, the scope of BIM related services is equally as vast, and exciting. It is just a question of time, as more and more people begin to understand, that “…in our digital future, every building will have a Building Information Model – a digital copy of itself…”

BIM QnA with Ralph Montague – Clarifying and Explaining BIM: http://tinyurl.com/y7dmk2dz

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