A brief history of BIM


July 16, 2015

No matter what the spin might be from on-high, the industry has now rolled up its sleeves and got stuck into some of the most intriguing attempts at improving itself ever seen.

The Government started the initiative by proclaiming its need for better information to make more informed decisions on behalf of us, the tax payer. It set out to do this via its own procurement programmes. All credit for doing this.

In the event, the power and more significant momentum for change is actually coming from grassroots SMEs and organisations of many sizes and shapes throughout the UK. The penny has dropped that BIM is not a procurement instrument imposed by Government, but that it simply represents good practice that can, if implemented properly, be of benefit to all involved in creating and using the built environment.

The crux is, 'if implemented properly'. There are many healthy discussions going on, for example about how processes might change, how a different legal landscape would promote a more co-operative atmosphere in projects, how a more holistic cradle-to-cradle financial model yield could more long-term benefit. In addition, we witness the inevitable march of technology, which will hopefully become less and less siloed as time goes by.

Education at all levels tends to drag its feet still. There are some exceptions where younger academic establishments have stolen a march on the more bureaucratic and long established educational bodies. A reworked, integrated pedagogic model that reflects the interrelated nature of making interventions in the built environment may take some time to materialise.

Perhaps the most important point to draw from the position we have now reached is the encouragingly positive and enquiring tone that these discussions take. There is an acknowledgement that there is a better way out there somewhere and that nobody has all the answers but, by crikey, a significant cross-section of the industry is trying hard to find them. It will take time for some of the old cynical values to decline, but groups such as the BIM2050 group and the sustained activity by the BIM hubs are shining beacons of what might be achieved in implementing more collaborative and integrated BIM working in future.

The future looks intriguing: perhaps the conversion of social media into commercial media might add a different dimension to the way we operate. Certainly, as the construction industry embraces more and more virtual technology, all the preparatory work that is being done under the BIM banner will prove invaluable in creating a different construction world.

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