BIMcrunch Editorial: Global BIM expertise lights up Lisbon at GeoBIM 2015

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The reputation of Geospatial Media‘s GeoBIM brand was certainly strengthened last Thursday when GeoBIM 2015 – the second event under the geospatial meets Building Information Modelling label – was held in Lisbon, Portugal. BIMcrunch were in attendance and we were treated to presentations from a diverse range of speakers from across the globe.

The Lisbon Congress Centre was a fantastic choice of venue for GeoBIM, a conference that was part of the week-long INSPIRE – Geospatial World Forum. The main hall featuring exhibitor stands was majestic, definitely comparative of the likes of BIM Show Live at Manchester Central, if not perhaps superseding it as one of the best venues for a symposium of that magnitude that we have seen.

Geospatial Media’s Prodipto Ghosh kicked off the event, thanking the speakers whilst also conveying some research gathered by the team at Geospatial World. This was a nice start to the event that provided facts and figures and wasn’t too heavy of an opener. Some of the presentations were rather technical throughout the day and this was an easy-to-digest talk to start proceedings.

The first official speaker was Head of Technical Information at Crossrail, Malcolm Taylor. Malcolm’s presentation was pleasant to sit through, featuring exciting statistics alongside informative images centred about the excitingly ambitious Crossrail project. Malcolm stressed the importance of treating the digital model and physical building equally. Whilst the building becomes the end product, an inability to correctly utilise the influencing digital model is a mistake. Taylor says that the digital model and the data it possesses could be used by professionals in excess of the next 150 years for O&M and FM purposes, a thought-provoking claim indeed.

Another United Kingdom-based professional spoke in-front of the audience next, Teesside University‘s Mohamad Kassem. Kassem praised fellow professionals Nashwan Dawood and Bilal Succar for their roles in the presentation and the research carried out to construct it. The presentation was packed with BIM and GIS related findings, including discussion of SAPs – or Standard Assessment Procedures. Mohamad also talked about BIM diffusion and the amount of work each project stakeholder should be expected to carry out.

Atkins‘ Director of BIM Strategy and Development, Anne Kemp presented to the audience next in what was a bold, confident and direct presentation. Anne got the audience laughing and engaged by asking questions before laying bare some BIM truths.

“Don’t think about one particular process. That is lonely, limp BIM. Thinking like that means we’ve utterly missed the point,” said Anne is just one comment that really got the audience thinking. Like Malcolm, Anne also discussed the importance of operations & maintenance, comparing a traditional BIM lifecycle diagram to a Monopoly board. She declared that those who don’t start with O&M in mind should go directly to jail. Not literally yet we appreciated the reference!

Leif Granholm, Tekla‘s Senior Vice President kept the momentum going next with another solid talk, this one on the subject of open standards.

“The main problem we have is working in silos, for people and mainly software. My main goal is to break those silos,” declared Leif with confidence. He urged people to stop pigeon-holing themselves into being a ‘BIM Manager’ or other unique role that could limit their potential to impact more on a project.

The first half of the morning session ended with Univerity of Brecia‘s Silvia Mastrolembo Ventura providing her findings whilst citing a case study on a project named The Piastra. From a personal viewpoint, this was the type of presentation that I enjoy, as clear evidence was provided that related to a completed project and Silvia was able to share her expertise following experience. For anyone who witnessed the presentation, it was highly insightful, despite Silvia having to speed through it due to time constraints!

After refreshments and a brief networking opportunity, Ad van Houtum of Dutch Kadaster took to the rostrum, delivering a presentation way different to any of its predecessors. Whilst his presentation was more related to GIS, it was interesting to gain an understanding of using GIS and BIM for excavation projects.

Topcon‘s John Foster was next up, and he also praised BIM solutions for their impact on O&M. The Business Development Manager for BIM presented Topcon’s Continuous Representation of Reality – or CRR – to the audience, which was an interesting initiative to digest.

The next four presentations spanned Belgium, Italy, South Korea and the United States. South Korea’s Tae Wook Kang seemed to struggle to keep the delegates fully engaged with his presentation style yet the content was highly detailed. It is clear that a lot of research had gone into it and it certainly made me much more aware of the BIM scene in South Korea.

The opposite of Kang’s presentation was conducted by Carlson Software‘s Nuno Fernandes. Whilst Nuno was a highly charismatic gentleman, the presentation was basically a sales pitch and felt out of place compared to the rest of the discussion throughout the day. If it had been billed as a sales demonstration by a sponsor, it may have been received better. We do applaud Nuno though for conducting a live demonstration. Often with live elements, things can go wrong technically, which happened to be the case here too. We learned about a particular software package here as opposed to the other presentations that gave guidance and advice, and it felt like a strange inclusion that may have been more suited to another area of the wider INSPIRE conference.

The afternoon session included perhaps the best presentation of the entire event, and also one of the most succinct. South Africa‘s Laura Pinfold, a Lecturer from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology gave a clear and concise report on South African BIM adoption that she discovered as a result of her research. This presentation featured eye-opening facts and figures coupled with enlightening statements such as “People don’t want to change. They are just not interested.” It seems like Laura is fighting an uphill battle in South Africa. A definite highlight for me.

The event concluded with a panel discussion/Q&A featuring Foster, Granholm, Kassem, Kemp and Taylor – a lot of influence behind one table! The roundtable was a great way to lead into promotion for the next GeoBIM event, GeoBIM Europe 2015. The aforementioned event will take place in Amsterdam on December 10th-11th.

All-in-all, GeoBIM 2015 was a resounding success. The first half of the event was stronger due to a larger number of speakers yet Laura Pinfold’s expertise was definitely worth waiting for. The ladies lauded my praise for all of the right reasons as they delivered very informative messages. I also enjoyed Malcolm Taylor’s digestible speech and look forward to hearing all about his next talk at BIM Today: 2016 and Beyond.

We would like to thank Geospatial Media for their generosity and hospitality and very much look forward to covering GeoBIM 2015 later in the year.

Stay tuned to BIMcrunch as a special audio edition of Best BIM Bad BIM with Malcolm Taylor will drop on BIMcrunch next week. Look out for the enhanced interview feature on Monday, June 8th, 2015.

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