Last week saw the “launch” of Digital Built Britain, the preferred branding for the UK’s Level 3 Building Information Modelling (BIM) programme. The work is apparently intended to “build on the standards and savings delivered by the BIM level 2 initiative which has been central to the £840M savings achieved on central public spend in 2013/14,” and core to this is a new strategic plan.
(Unless I missed something, it was an oddly low-key launch for a document that is intended to continue the BIM transformation process – did it get overrun by the push towards a UK General Election in May?).
The report says the UK wants to make fully computerised construction the norm, ensure that the benefits of these technologies are felt across the UK, and support the export of these technologies and the services based on them. A new round of investment will “enable us to continue and extend the work that began in 2011” with funding enabling:
- the creation of a set of new, international ‘Open Data’ standards which would pave the way for easy sharing of data across the entire market
- the establishment of a new contractual framework for projects which have been procured with BIM to ensure consistency, avoid confusion and encourage, open, collaborative working (‘collaboration’ is mentioned 20 times in the report, ‘collaborative’ is used 16 times; together, as they should, these outnumber the 33 mentions of ‘technology’).
- the creation of a cultural environment which is co-operative, seeks to learn and share
- training the public sector client in the use of BIM techniques such as, data requirements, operational methods and contractual processes
- driving domestic and international growth and jobs in technology and construction
On a first read, I was also struck by an explicit endorsement (p.25) of the value of social media (mentioned six times, more than ‘software’) in the report, and the talk of toolkits:
Normal lay users are mostly conversant with applications such as email and social media, both of which perform complex processes, yet manage to present the user with clear simple interfaces. Our aim must be to present the day to day user with useful easy to consume and interact with information and knowledge.
With an industry so keen to enable collaboration of diverse people, the uptake of social media in the supply chain has been relatively slow. Where uptake has taken place it has been with tools such as LinkedIn which have a more business focus. Lessons should be learnt from this and the patterns of social media uptake to create an appropriate toolkit to encourage very wide adoption and usage.
I have bemoaned the lack of social-savvy approaches to collaboration for some years, and finally it seems others share my views.