Wednesday, 5 October 2016

'Global Trade - Providing a consistent approach toward BIM implementation and ensuring Australia's future growth in BIM can support international opportunities'

Globally there are a variety of BIM implementation policies that are driving and promoting change throughout the built environment. It is imperative for global trade and working within the context of an international stage that Australia acknowledge, utilises and addresses these changes to enable greater integration with other regions in this sector. This will aid in the growth of our economy and also provide a strong opportunity for export of trade and skill to other regions, boosting our reputation and acknowledgement of Australia as a global leader in BIM related processes and procedures.

Unfortunately, in the context of BIM we are seeing a disjointed, varied and somewhat naïve approach toward implementation within the sector both nationally and locally. With each independent government department promoting, acknowledge or creating an opportunity for BIM, it seems a wasted resource to enable growth in our sector when our approach is disjointed and fragmented. A federal mandate may come about, but currently there is no real driver for this to occur.

The above indicates that the cultural variations in regions such as Australia are ultimately driving our industry even further from a unified solution in regard to BIM. With rapidly developing international standards driving a BIM approach globally, it seems a shame that within Australia we are not driving the approach through tried and tested methods such as the rapidly advanced UK and Scottish BIM implementation. There is also a resistance to using ‘standards’ to drive a consistent approach in Australia, and we are seeing a varied level of disjointed methods on projects of different types and scale.

As a relatively small industry there is huge potential to drive efficiencies and better managed processes in Australia as we are agile and equipped for change. Influencing and changing the future of an industry the third of the size of the UK seems a no brainer. However, as a small nation, and geographically isolated the cultural approach toward this is that ‘why do we need to?’. Having lived and worked in both geographies, it is safe to say that we must be looking outward, not inward in our approach to innovation. The built environment is a sector with huge global growth opportunities and the opportunity to grow local business within the context of international opportunities is huge.

As much as the UK has driven a consistent approach to BIM adoption, the challenge is the need to educate, in essence, almost 3 million people who reside in construction related employment. The approach and strategy has been achieved in the UK (and is currently on its journey), yet the skills, the knowledge, and the required processes to deliver on this incentive has not yet been utilised. This is where we can look at driving huge export opportunities within larger and economically stronger regions throughout the world. The focus on export within the UK is also driven by the government, exporting skills and expertise will ultimately lead to opportunities. The UK have driven this approach not only via the release of the Government Construction Strategy in 2011 which ultimately focused on mandating a variety of solutions to enable a greater industry, but also subsequent reports were written which ­­­focused on the softer elements for BIM integration such as enabling skills, driving export and education at a young age.

These drivers are documented in the report ‘Construction 2025’ which was released in the UK in 2013, focusing on how government and industry can support the future growth and employment of the sector. The areas of focus included (and not only BIM) but overall strategies which would positively affect the future of the industry (having said this, 2025 is not far away!). Areas such as incentivising people, utilising smart technologies and sustainable methods, growth across the economy and a strong leadership within government were all key priorities which were documented to ultimately support BIM and a greater digitisation of the built environment.

As explained, the sectors’ strategy and vision, although advanced in its approach, lacked the hands on and practical implementation of these drivers and skills and therefore the UK have been focused on ensuring that the industry are equipped with the relevant skills and capabilities to work in this context. More recently this was driven by the formation of groups such as the UKBIM Alliance and WomeninBIM who were formed in the UK and now work globally to support growing a more diverse sector in regard to its people and technologies.

Australia has the opportunity to benefit from the drivers forcing the UK to ultimately change and review the way the Construction industry functions as the skills shortages are at critical levels (and minus the Brexit conundrum) they will need to source these skills somewhere else! The opportunity to source them from regions such as Australia are great as we are not filtered by our own approach and need to be pushed to work within the context of a unified solution within BIM and digital construction. A prime example of this is the development of the international standard (now almost at completion) driving BIM adoption, ISO19650. This standard will aid in a globally unified solution toward working in the context of BIM and is being developed to ensure a level of consistency can be achieved across the built environment globally in regard to BIM.

Australians are agile, young and technology savvy and it would be a shame if our geography hindered us to work on a global stage. The time is now, to change, influence and grow our economy, whilst acknowledging how to ensure our sector stands as a leader.

Rebecca De Cicco
Digital Node Ltd / UK & Australia


Thursday, 7 April 2016

BIM Blah...

A tweet the other day has prompted me to write this post. Not because I am pretty certain I am right on this one, but also because there are too many 'experts' preaching about a process and terminology and confusing the majority of the industry. I think it was the B1M who said that there are a tiny minority of people passionate about BIM (globally EG UK BIM and Global BIM experts using the hashtags) and then there is 'everyone else'. Surely to engage 'everyone else' we need to throw away the elitism (I love this word) and focus on what is important. Delivery projects that align to the ambitions of the Government!

So it brings me to the point we discussed on twitter. Level 2 BIM …I mean BIM Level 2! Sorry! ;)

What we need to remember is this. The stewardship group (BIM Task Group) defined a system so we could determine how to assess where our projects were residing and where they needed to be. The terminology is that of Levels…1, 2 and maybe 3 at some point.

Using the terms 'BIM Level 2' or 'Level 2 BIM' do not make a difference.

The level definitions should be used as guidance only - it makes absolutely no difference what we call it as long as we align to the ambitions of it surely???

Happy to debate this topic but in all honesty, we don't really need to - lets just get one with it please!!

Saturday, 2 April 2016

BIM. Australia and the UK and Digital Node.

Having worked and lived in the UK for the past ten years it is important to review and acknowledge how far we have come in regard to BIM in the UK and begin to draw some comparisons. We’ve all discussed national and international context and for the better part we can only guess the maturity of a nation in regard to BIM - yet it is fair to say we cannot accurately determine what this means for our industry globally.


I discussed global context in the class I taught at Autodesk University in 2015 - yet this discussion was purely based on research undertaken by several academics and organizations on the topic. This research, although thorough and relevant, still did not give a clear picture to how we review and understand regional differences.


I recently returned to Australia (for the Christmas) and in fact for a longer stay than usual and will divide my time and Digital Node between Australia and the UK. You have probably already discovered through the social media channels that Digital Node and Digital Node Australia are now in existence. The reason for this is not purely because my lifeline exists in Australia (as most of you are aware) but due to the fact we (as Digital Node) can start to utilize the UK processes and industry as well as guidance we have achieved over the space of the last two years of operation.  This will begin to affect not only how we offer services in different regions but also how we can use the UK BIM processes and knowledge acquired to adequately support projects and clients in this market.


As an Australian I can very firmly state that as a young and relatively modern society we are very agile and adapt to change.  For an Aussie, change is as easy as a walk in the park and we can move very quickly in differing areas of our lives and work to accommodate this. We don’t question as much as we could and generally utilize best practice when it comes to technology and process. This is very different however in countries like the UK where historical context poses a challenge when it comes to affecting change. This is something I am very clear about and something I have experienced over the course of my career.


The main problem existing here is consistency in process. There is no clear and set standard of delivering projects to achieve a BIM deliverable here in Oz. Terms such as ‘protocol’ ‘manager’ ‘standard’ are very different in this context and it is not until you work in the context of a project environment and see with your own eyes the way projects are run that you can accurately to compare. Digital Node remains firm on the belief that without working in context to projects, it’s impossible to assess and train an industry, one of our most important areas of the business.


For this reason, there are real opportunities for those with the experience from the UK to help drive change here in Australia. Not because we need to - but because as Aussies, we find it hard to say… ‘hey the UK have done a good job, let’s use what they’ve done and go for it’. We need to find our own way and acknowledge others before moving forward. For this reason, the approach toward change here is very different.


What I have realised in a short space of time however is that our abilities, through the supply chain are quite strong in regard to technical delivery of BIM. In the UK however we have a little further to go. Not saying that this is a negative for the UK, the market, value and size is not comparable so therefore it is natural there are many more people to upskill. The point I make here is that with the skills here in Australia we have huge potential (in all areas of building and construction) to be able to market our services to support projects in a global context. Not only does this enable global recognition of Australian capabilities but also allows us to adequately acknowledge the BIM Level 2 banner, state we can work in the context of it, and then also work in the context of our own environments too. Win-win situation.


In short, the potential is huge for a large country like Australia with huge opportunities moving forward. Where else are we going to be able to live and work (with population growth rising) and lifestyle choices changing in the future? J


The UK BIM Programme has been incredible and acknowledging this is important, and for me this has prompted an industry toward change and growth which is fantastic. However, without the skills to be able to deliver on this, the market in the UK will suffer and we will need to draw upon resources elsewhere…….


Sunday, 14 June 2015

A few thoughts.....BIM and altering our Industry

As a young (ish) person in Construction, female and sitting in a very small minority group of independent consultants I find myself constantly wondering why the perception of our industry and the same themes continually arise. I previously worked with a clear group of people, diverse, young and vibrant when part of the BIM2050 team and I learnt a few things about myself and others when involved in this team. I learnt that we all continually change, that we all continually want to address important issues in Construction and above all that we were all passionate about making this industry a better one.

Having removed myself from practice, I now work with teams across the board, from Architects to Contractors, Secondary schools and training boards and clients I am finding that I can see a very clear distinction about what everybody believes the truth is and what it actually is! I work with kids, with CEO's, with technicians and designers. I work with all types of people which allows me to learn from them. Especially the young. The truth is that as much as we can all discuss change, technology and BIM, we need people from all areas to help us to promote and share this. 

There are a few themes here that I would like to therefore touch upon. 

Firstly- Women in BIM. Yes, I Created a group. Yes I am passionate about seeing women in senior roles. But, by no means is it about drawing young women into these roles! The facts are that we have plenty of young women enrolling daily in Construction related roles (even more in fact than men in some courses) so there is no problem here. Children and young adults will have a passion for a career which will ultimately force them to select those degrees and in turn become those types of professionals. We worked hard as part of BIM2050 to understand where the numbers were lacking and it was certainly not at the younger end. 

Unfortunately, through no reason or fault of our own, the issue is about retaining female professionals in Construction. 

Having worked closely with people in the UK in Australia and in the US I have to say that in my opinion, that the UK is the furthest behind when it comes to a diverse construction industry. I am saying this because we need to change it and I am currently looking at campaigns and ideas to do so with help from friends (but i need more help!). I still need to survive, eat and sleep so I can only allocate a certain number of hours a day to this cause. 

Another area I need to discuss is that those who are helping industry grow, the usual BIM suspects in the UK, I need you to get out there too and support this. It isn't about women moaning about why there aren't enough of us in these roles.... Its about us trying to work hard and grow a diverse and healthy space for us in industry, its not only about BIM, the issue is much much larger. If we don't address this we'll fail at growing a healthy and happy industry which will thrive on diverse and varied leaders. 

Another point I would like to touch on  is that even though we are utilising technology …yes its changing how we work, helping us to achieve better results ..blah blah blah..we've heard it all before. What we are neglecting to remember is that there are still only a small number of people who will lead this. Leaders and managers are one minority. Here in this miniority …and in particular in the BIM / Tech space….the number of young women, or women in general is even smaller.  

The solution is not black and white. It is something we need to address, change and grow from and acknowledge that without help it will not and cannot be achieved. 

So I guess with this, I leave the question open and I ask you to share and help me to try to change our industry just slightly for the better because if we don't start addressing this now we'll not see positive results moving forward.