11 March 2017

The volume of information generated in today’s digital world will not have escaped anyone. It is safe to say that we have now firmly entered the ‘big data’ age, where large pools of data and information are captured, communicated, aggregated, stored and analysed as part of sectors such as retailing, publishing, travel and financial services.

With construction industry being one of the last major sectors to commence its digital journey, the successful delivery of the UK Government Construction Strategy (GCS) BIM Level 2 programme now sees the UK take on a global leadership role and represents an internationally unparalleled achievement on the journey towards the digitisation of our built environment.

Building on the success of the BIM Level 2 programme, Digital Built Britain was launched last year and will enable the interconnected digital design of different elements in a built environment, and will extend BIM into the operation of assets over their lifetimes – where the lion’s share of cost arises. It will support the accelerated delivery of smart cities, services and grids. Owners and operators will be able to better manage assets and services as they track their real-time efficiency, maximising utilisation and minimising energy use.

Digital Built Britain will enable the digitisation of our built environment and will help meet the Government Industrial Strategy (2025) targets of 33% lower costs, 50% faster delivery, 50% lower emissions and 50% improvements in exports. As the results of the survey confirm, BIM and data will continue to play a large part in sector transformation and the achievement of these goals.

Level 2 BIM Journey

The Level 2 BIM journey began in 2011 and continued until the Government’s mandate was reached in April 2016. All central government departments are fundamentally procuring BIM Level 2 data. I am often asked ‘How are the departments getting on?’ and this survey begs a similar response. My response must be that they are all on a journey like the rest of the sector. Some have travelled further than others, but all are significantly better than they were four years ago. Construction is the largest industrial sector in the UK: we employ over two and a half million people and they all move at different speeds. However, one thing is for sure: they have all moved, and so has the rest of the world, with nearly half of the world’s rail and metros now being delivered using Level 2-based standards, including those in Kuala Lumpur and New York.

Now we have passed the 2016 milestone, the work starts. We need to move BIM Level 2 to ‘business as usual’. This is where industry needs to lead the transition to BIM Level 2 and spread it across the market, not just centrally-procured public sector projects but local authorities and the private sector. To do this we are working with several parties, including the UK BIM Alliance. The Alliance was launched in October 2016 and is a cross-industry alliance formed to lead BIM Level 2 and the digital transformation of the construction sector. Its focus will be the implementation of BIM Level 2 across the wider industry over the next four years until 2020, which will establish the essential foundations for BIM Level 3 and digital transformation as we move towards 2025.

The UK has made a significant step in creating a worldclass position in delivering capability, standards and capacity in the sector to reduce cost and increase value.

UKAS BIM certification scheme

Announced in September 2016, the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is considering extending its accreditation activity into a new area: that of accredited Building Information Modelling (BIM) certification, and in doing so will help support the Construction Strategy published by the UK Government in May 2011. It is evident that there are a number certification schemes (e.g. ‘process’ certification, ‘person’ certification) for BIM Level 2 available to the market now; however, UKAS wishes to promote a common approach to accredited BIM Level 2 certification and service levels.

Digital Built Britain

The continuing success of the Level 2 programme, underlined by the results of this survey, has provided the platform to move to the next stage. The move to Level 3 and the commencement of the Digital Built Britain programme heralds a new generation of SMART Infrastructure and Construction. The UK has made a significant step in creating a world-class position in delivering capability, standards and capacity in the sector to reduce cost and increase value. The coming together of the BIM and Smart City programme into Digital Built Britain will continue this commitment to providing jobs, homes, services and growth to the UK economy.

 The Digital Built Britain programme comprises the following work areas:

  • Level 2 legacy activity, to continue to drive Level 2 uptake and realise further savings.
  • Level 2 (Convergence) is the programme of activity that will provide the first end-to-end asset life cycle data management process. The fusing of BIM, Sensors and City Services in a single set of Level 2 standards will provide a key first step for both construction and city services providers to work much closer in the delivery of assets and services.
  • Level 3 is a programme which is a fully developed version of Level 2 (c) and will provide the basis for a fully functioning secure digital economy for the built environment.
  • The final work stream is a research stream investigating trends and developments just over the horizon which will have significant impacts on the sector.

The results of the NBS survey once again show a welcome trend of development: proof, if it were needed, that the UK continues to be an innovative developer and adopter of technology. In light of the demand which will be made of us all in the new trading future outside of the EU, this should give us encouragement and push us on to even better things.

For more information visit www.digital-built-britain.com

This article is taken from the NBS National BIM Report 2017. Find out more and download the full free report including comprehensive analysis of our survey results.