Her Majesty’s Government is at the forefront of BIM and digital implementation in the construction industry. The development of a policy driving the adoption of digital processes across both buildings and infrastructure projects, has provided great strength, consistency and growth for an industry which has so often been at the edge of demise.
The continuation and commitment to the development of industry skills and knowledge following the release of the 2011 Government Construction Strategy has instigated an amazing recovering for UK construction, not only due to the strong BIM mandate, but for other advanced digital solutions transforming the way we design, construct and operate our built assets.
The construction industry in the UK has always been very focused on ensuring that there is a strong opportunity for export of skills and resource. Look at the world-class engineering and architectural exports that have come from the UK and it is clear to see. With this and the technology advancements occurring today, industry will be presented with some great opportunities as global construction forecasts are expected to triple in the next decade. With this increase we will see an upsurge in the way buildings and infrastructure project support growth in our cities and utilising BIM and other digital methods will become (and has become) a matter of urgency for the built environment.
The process of developing a maturity index across industry to drive how BIM and digital could be measured was genius in this approach. Many other regions of the world often discuss BIM without having anything to measure it by. With the development of the UK BIM initiative and seeing the implementation of a policy driven approach and mandate such as UK BIM Level 2 is an exemplar solution, and one in which has now grown to support other regions.
The adoption of the suite of standards to support UK BIM Level 2 have also started to be recommended, utilised and pushed by many other government departments across the world. What we are seeing is that the policy driven approach to BIM in the UK, and the plethora of standards and processes which support this drive are becoming referenced and utilised in other regions of the world regularly and this is proving the success of HM Government in regard to pushing an advanced forward-thinking policy for the built environment. Regardless of where an industry is being pushed (e.g. buildings or infrastructure development) the UK standards are the most advanced in regard to consistency and governance of a methodology.
The UK standards, developed to support BIM, have been exemplar when it comes to providing a framework for industry to work to globally. Without strict standards and governance, it is impossible to work collectively and consistently across an industry. This was initially pushed in the UK and culturally could be, yet now seen to be driving other regions and industries. Without the use of standards there is a very ad hoc approach toward BIM implementation and Project Management and this provides huge challenges to the industry as a whole.
Globalisation is on the increase and to be able to trade successfully with other regions of the world is becoming more and more important with the lack of skills and expertise in BIM and digital construction methods. Therefore, as a result we must acknowledge that consistently using standards across industry is a crucial way to avoid on wasted time and processes when it comes to BIM.
Although the British Standards are somewhat misinterpreted and misunderstood it is important to note that education and training become crucial. Standards that support BIM in the UK such as the 1192 suite, must be understood in order to be driven across departments and industries. There is a necessity therefore for training, content to support training both classroom and online. Although there are many educational resources there is still a lack of practical application when it comes to BIM.
The importance of practically applying standards to a project also seems to be lacking. Coupled with this, and the uptake of many organisations supporting certification of skills we need to be realistic as to how much further there is to go. For example, the UK BIM Alliance itself was formed to support the implementation of BIM Level 2 across industry and many of the standards are generally unclear as to what actually defines this maturity.
Moving ahead, the smart cities initiative is also starting to determine how digital can affectively support how cities will change across the globe. Not only mega cities like London, but also those cities with poorer economic foundations and less infrastructure to support the populations increases which will occur in the next decade. The way in which BIM supports this is very important as the access to data on buildings will become crucial for future use and habitation of buildings. This is also coupled with the data associated to Infrastructure and the challenges associated to building more intelligent city models to ultimately use data to predict future use and maintenance. The UK suite of standards to support the Smart cities movement is crucial to understand today and will be used across many regions of the world. This suite of PAS180 documents supports the Digital Built Britain agenda and will begin to be used and understood across the world moving forward.
The development of digital from the very early stages of the implementation of the Government Construction Strategy and beyond have proven to the UK the importance of a policy driven approach when it comes to BIM. As we now know, the use of the standards supporting BIM are being used and driven globally to support other regions and ultimately the globalisation of BIM and future international standard ISO 19650 which will potentially be used to support this global standardization of BIM solutions.