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Latest ISO 19650 guidance: John Ford gives his view

3 November 2019 | By John Ford

The BIM & digital information technical development lead at Galliford Try dissects the edition 2 of the ISO 19650 guidance.

The BSI, CDBB and UK BIM Alliance have just published an update for the BS EN ISO 19650 - Guidance Part 2 document and interactive tool. This resource has been contributed to by many volunteers from different organisations and backgrounds, who were willing to give their time to contribute to the AEC’s knowledge, through contextual and pragmatic based insights to drive benefits for the wider industry.

Edition 2 of this resource, completed on 31 October, includes two major updates. The first is a raft of new insights into clause 5 of ISO 19650-2 providing the reader better contextual understanding of clauses 5.1-5.4 and 5.8. The second is a detailed guidance for the principles and application of the common data environment (CDE) beyond the theoretical rhetoric that many face, and as part of our transitioning to better information management.

The key objective of this guidance was to target several crucial areas of the CDE concept that many have different interpretations, which results in fragmented implementation approaches that often have to be amended at the last minute on projects in an effort to compromise.

Unless you have had long experience organising project information from all its disciplines (design, quality, construction, H&S, commissioning etc) and in all the different forms of exchange (drawings, media, certificates, correspondences, graphical and non- graphical data files etc), then the CDE concept is quite difficult to understand as multiple solutions and workflows always exist for each discipline and method of exchange.

There are very few types of roles in the industry that are this focused on the process, so it’s not a surprise that the concept has resulted in so much debate the last decade or so.

There is so much to cover, and so much knowledge to share on the subject, from avoiding common pitfalls to implementing simple workflows and solutions that work as efficiently as possible when trying to get the job done… the job being the need to develop and use timely, consistent and complete information which every single project task is reliant upon.

However, to make a start, the following areas were targeted first to help the industry see elements of the CDE in ways they have perhaps not considered before. These areas were based on several plain language questions:

  • What are the tangible elements of the CDE?
  • What is metadata really?
  • How can metadata be used in different solutions?
  • How can metadata be transitioned between different solutions?
  • What should be considered now classification is a mandatory assignment?
  • How does the original 1192/19650 national annex revision system work in practice?
  • What is the real purpose of status codes?
  • How do status codes drive the CDE workflow using practical examples?
  • What are some of the things that should be considered when implementing a CDE?

Each of the above questions were targeted with granular guidance based on pragmatic approaches using as plain language as possible. But the topic is huge, with “information management” being the foundation for all project tasks and outcomes, and there will always be areas of continued debate as so many have their own personal approaches and some aspects have changed with the introduction of ISO 19650.

For example, the approach and understanding of the term “authorisation” has changed somewhat, meaning it has impacted the status codes taken from the original 1192:2007 A2. There are also terms like “project CDE” and “distributed CDE” that were not provided context which has already resolved in a few industry interpretations.

It is hoped this first release of the guidance will help apply meaningful context to these aspects of the CDE with future additions planned to further improve industry knowledge of the complexities and wonders of the CDE.