BIM Voice – Dan Rossiter: The Success of Interoperability

Credit: Dan Rossiter
Credit: Dan Rossiter

BIMcrunch has become a platform for a plethora of elite industry names to become guest writers on the site and share their thoughts and opinions with the #GlobalBIMCrew. In today’s edition, BRE‘s BIM Consulting/Training Manager and new CIC BIM 2050 Group member, Dan Rossiter shares his thoughts with you on the recent events that he attended – the buildingSMART International Summit and buildingSMART UK‘s BIM Prospects.

Last week, those of you on social media may have seen a plethora of reoccurring hashtags on Twitter. #openBIMsummit, #BIMProspects, & #Next were all over timelines due to the two buildingSMART events held last week – the buildingSMART International Summit held at the BRE campus in Watford, and buildingSMART UK’s event held at the RIBA headquarters, BIM Prospects.

The buildingSMART International Summit saw BIM professionals from across the globe join the discussions surrounding openBIM (the use of open standards, processes, and data within BIM). The event saw university professors, IT experts, software developers, specialist consultants and AEC professionals share their thoughts and discuss the development of the working groups and international developments. It was plain to see how this summit was not just a #UKBIMCrew event, but one for the #GlobalBIMCrew.

At the summit there were a number of revelations. Firstly Steen Sunesen of buildingSMART Norway stunned audiences with their BIM guide tool, a web based project implementation guide creator. Korea’s Ghang Lee also demonstrated a lot of development in BIM processes by creating a similar system based around Information Delivery Manuals (IDMs) and presented a tool to create IDMs based on IFC attributes. Of course, we in the UK have been involved in a number of interesting developments too such as the development of IFC4 through Nick Nisbet & Thomas Liebich of AEC3, and work we are doing at BRE through buildingSMART International to develop an international learning outcome framework for BIM education.

A concern ironically however was the lack of collaboration; both the Norwegians and Koreans have spent years developing these tools in isolation and were genuinely quite shocked at the similarity in each other’s approaches. Had this been done through buildingSMART International then I imagine a lot of abortive work could have been avoided. Likewise there is a lot of development work which could have fed into the NBS BIM Toolkit here in the UK.

That said I left the summit enthused by the BIM developments internationally. It is great to see that rapidly advancing BIM countries such as Germany and France are attending events such as these to work together to develop BIM internationally in a consistent manner.

buildingSMART International Summit attendees. Credit: buildingSMART
buildingSMART International Summit attendees. Credit: buildingSMART

But there was no time to rest – it was time to head to London for BIM Prospects.

While many summit members also attended BIM Prospects, it was a different beast altogether. This two day event at the RIBA headquarters introduced attendees to new informal terminology in a similar to how ‘infobesity’ and ‘BIMdigestion’ were introduced at the RICS BIM conference. Patrick Macleamy, chair of buildingSMART International introduced us to International Friend Club (IFC) when referring to opendata, AtkinsAnne Kemp brought up the issue of buildingSMART Speak at the need to use plain language, BRE’s Nick Tune promoted our use of the informal acronym Better Information Management (BIM) when discussing the key points of Building Information Modelling and I discussed the need to keep the language lean, and be able to communicate to employers correctly.

The second day saw buildingSMART UK report on its trials including IFC case studies, the use of COBie to facilitate asset management and buildingSMART UK’s developing EIR template.

It wasn’t all business however; Solibri’s David Jellings performed admirably when the AV equipment failed, leaving him resorted to delivering a presentation which sounded more like a dramatic reading of a telegram, having to shout “NEXT” each time a change of slide was required.

Now back in Wales after a week of BIM, it has become clear how pivotal the work of buildingSMART International is to ensure that there is consistency in our approach to BIM. Although as stated earlier, care needs to be taken to ensure that international developments are done through buildingSMART in order to tie in with the work of others. My concern is that if everyone develops a standard, then there isn’t really a standard.

If you are interested in joining buildingSMART UK to help contribute to the development of openBIM, you can join by accessing the website here.

Make sure to follow Dan on Twitter by clicking here.