Ecobuild encounters

ExCEL (top right) from Emirates Airline cable carEcobuild: where 4Projects talked about an Open API to share BIM data, and I got on the samepage with Kerio. 

The annual Ecobuild UK construction trade show marked its 10th anniversary this week (I’ve been to them all, I think) and now takes place at London’s ExCEL (giving me my annual – only – excuse to use the cable car at North Greenwich to cross the Thames). Client and meeting commitments meant I could only get along for half of the final day, but it was a useful trip nonetheless.

4Projects talking open APIs

4Projects stand at EcobuildPreviously 4Projects CTO, recently crowned global enterprise architect (post), Andy Ward tapped me on the shoulder and we had a brief chat, including talk of an open API (application programming interface). This was also mentioned more than once by 4Projects’ Ross McLaren who gave a lunchtime talk on BIM and collaboration in Ecobuild’s BIMTech theatre.

Ross described how the outputs of the Newcastle, UK-based collaboration vendor’s 4BIM research and product development project include an open API. In theory, this will allow easy integration and exchange of BIM-related data between 4Projects and other solutions used in the BIM ecosystem, but clearly (as he said to an audience questioner) its success will depend on the availability and willingness of other software vendors to offer similar APIs.

samepage logoMarino Vigliotti, of Kerio (and past a stand displaying Vectorworks and Open BIM logos, I fell into conversation with the engaging Marino Vigliotti who introduced me to Kerio Technologies web-based collaboration platform. Having been thinking a lot about simple collaboration recently, I immediately ‘got’ Samepage. As the name implies, it provides a single webpage where all the participants in a project can share a single view of what needs to be done, using a Facebook-type timeline approach that is immediately familiar and easy to use.

It is a generic collaboration product bringing together elements of social business, project management and content sharing, with secure version control. It incorporates task and calendar lists, and it’s file-sharing capabilities provide a ready alternative to emailing documents or sharing Google Maps, photographs, videos, etc around a group of internal and external collaborators. Instead of multiple copies locally stored, users can access the latest versions in one location holding the ‘single version of the truth’. Marino told me a mobile app is also available but doesn’t yet have the full capabilities of the desktop web-browser version.

Launched in early 2013, Samepage is Kerio’s first cloud-only offering (its core business is delivering internal network management, phone and email systems) and the California-based company runs all its internal business processes (finance, HR, marketing, sales, business development, engineering, etc.) on Samepage, improving productivity and reducing inbound email; customers include the University of Tokyo and Autodesk. There is a free version, allowing up to 10 users to share up to 250 pages with a total of 50GB storage; the paid-for business edition starts at $100/per user per year (or $10/user monthly), with 250GB storage plus 10GB per user.

Skanska, Stockholm and Sharepoint

Nick Tune chairing a BIM session at EcobuildEcobuild’s BIM seminars included one on asset operations, chaired by BRE and BuildingSmart’s Nick Tune, right, and which featured a presentation on the use of BIM in delivering the Nya Karolinska Solna university hospital in Stockholm by Skanska IT Nordic’s Adina Jägbeck.

The hospital is Sweden’s first public-private partnership hospital and, under the terms of the deal, Skanska will be responsible for maintaining it for 25 years, so the company is understandably ensuring a high quality of asset information is captured during the design and construction process to help future operation and maintenance.

Adina talked briefly about how the project had created a common data environment, similar to that envisaged in the the UK government’s recommendations for BIM implementation, and described how Microsoft’s Sharepoint was being deployed to help capture asset information, viewed using SharePointViewer. I think this surprised some people in the audience; I talked to two afterwards who both said they had avoided using Sharepoint due to the time and cost involved in configuring it for effective construction team use. Clearly, at least so far on this project, Skanska has been able to deploy it, though Adina did say it was still early days and they had only just started to export test data from the system to a Maximo CAFM system to see if that worked.


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