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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Bringing Buildings and Infrastructure Together

October 30th, 2013 by Susan Smith

Among the interesting offerings at Bentley “Year in Infrastructure 2013” today was a Summit Session conducted by Dr. Anne Kemp, Ph. D, director of BIM Strategy and Development Chair of the Association for Geographic Information (AGI)and of ICE’s BIM Action Group, Atkins. Her topic was “Construction and Infrastructure: the BIM Phenomenon.”

Kemp spoke about how we can’t just talk about technology, we need to enable better conversations between disciplines. This can happen when they trust the data. She really gave a sociology lesson about how data sharing has to take place at a deeper level, where people can speak the same language instead of becoming threatened by the potential change the other person’s point of view represents. She was referring to the wide difference between the approach of the BIM model designed for architects and the BIM model then handed over to the construction side of the process. Is that same BIM model presented in a language the construction side can understand?

What resonated with me largely because I have horses, was that Kemp talked about herd behavior and showed a photo of her goats. Herd behavior is essentially what we live by, although we have diverged from that because of technology in large part. We also need to understand the language of the other party, or begin to speak a common language.

 She talked a lot about allowing computers to be in control, how we spend too much time looking at our smartphones. As we are a herd species, it’s important to look at the way we interface.

Kemp suggests that we need to engage in “Integrated and collaborative working. We will disagree but at least if we have a way to communicate then we can make decisions. This is where we can pull buildings and infrastructure together. BIM has been dominated by the building sector, because the language being used isn’t native to you, you are going to be reactive and will say I want to do it together, bring building and infrastructure together.”

The roles of the architects and the construction professionals are different but they must read and understand the same models. In cases like the A14 road in the UK, which was discontinued, there was a lot of information that was collected that could be re-used now that it has started back up again. Kemp said the way projects are procured may be of interest down the road.

“If data has been collected so that we can use it to operate and maintain, our challenge is scale, and interfaces between different agencies, different systems,” she said. “We’re still dealing with different systems. Their vision is that they will have their data in one system or at least you’ll be able to view it together.”

With the BIM model,  architects are looking at best practices and the building once. Level 2 BIM is about working collaboratively across the supply chain with coordinated federated models to deliver to the client an agreed process of specific data drops using a prescribed data exchange mechanism.

For those inheriting the BIM model, they must feel you can use the data that is passed to them.

“We as humans can only approach change through supportive relationships.”

Kemp cites the concern that we are in danger of losing “decent conversations” because we are possibly cutting off older wisdom. Although technology is valuable we need to be sure to not separate different thinking from the technology and keep the older ways of communicating.

The future collaborative team needs to share, even though the impulse is to want to do it your own way.

“While managing information for our CAD and BIM projects, try to get away from thinking it’s just about technology,” said Kemp. “Don’t forget the people element in this. Stresses make us shortcut our decisions.”

“I’d be comfortable with the computer taking over technical challenges, not with adaptive changes,” said Kemp.

We need to learn to deal with conflict so we can accept other points of view, she said, so what are the leadership principles we want to bring to the technology situation?

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Categories: AEC, architecture, Bentley Systems, BIM, building information modeling, Cloud, construction

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