Centre for Digital Built Britain spreads BIM gospel worldwide

One of the key outputs from the framework established between participating European countries is the EU BIM Handbook, which contains a set of recommendations to public sector clients and policy makers when adopting BIM into their public estates.

The Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) is demonstrating global leadership and collaboration in the digital transformation of designing, building, operating and using social and economic infrastructure. Adam Matthews, who leads the international programme at CDBB, and Richard Lane, delivery manager for the international programme, set out this leadership and collaborative agenda from an international perspective.

The aim of the CDBB international programme is to grow the awareness and adoption of a common approach to BIM globally. We work with governments overseas to present the value proposition of taking a standards-based approach to BIM using international and UK developed best practices, standards and tools.

We build capacity by working with public sector officials, supporting their strategic implementation of BIM, underpinned by the UK’s open framework, in partner countries in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. 

Our objective is to enable collaboration across countries, increase understanding of the process that is BIM and, importantly, help to open the market for trade and export opportunities bilaterally with these partner countries and the UK.

The international programme has secured significant achievements to date, including:

  • recognition of the UK’s global leadership in the use of BIM;
  • national level memorandum of understanding (MOU) and collaboration with several countries in Latin America and Asia;
  • and the formation of the EU BIM Task Group under the European Commission in 2015. The EU BIM Task Group has grown from a handful of public sector stakeholders informally exchanging information about the potential of digital construction, to a formalised collaboration of 24 European counties today.

Securing consensus between such a large number of member counties is testament to the combined commitment to a shared goal – enabling an open, competitive market that will drive best possible value for the public purse in the group’s member countries and increased opportunities for international trade.

A short video made at the General Assembly meeting of the EU Task Group in March this year reflects this commitment and highlights some of the shared opportunities and challenges faced by member countries.

One of the key outputs from the collaborative framework established between participating European countries is the EU BIM Handbook, published last year, which contains a set of recommendations to public sector clients and policy makers when adopting BIM into their public estates.

We helped to formulate the handbook and the interest the publication has generated reflects the success of the programme in building international consensus. It is being translated into 18 European languages, plus Japanese and Vietnamese.

The focus for 2018 is to amplify this learning across Europe by developing a training course for public stakeholders at the state and municipal government level, encouraging them to take advantage of BIM.

The workshops and events supporting wider implementation will be held in a number of countries across Europe and the details will appear on the CDBB website over the next few weeks.

Our international outreach started with European partners and has grown to global engagements. So far, five MoUs have been agreed across Latin America, Europe and Asia, and we expect a further three to be progressed this year.

Chile leads the way in Latin America and the speed of its digital journey to date is exemplary. It has taken lessons learned from the UK programme and effectively adapted the strategy and standards based framework to meet the needs of its own construction sector and built environment culture. What is remarkable is that they have achieved in just over a year what it took the UK three years to complete.

The CDBB engagement with Chile was based on the UK’s introduction of BIM which is closely aligned with the EU Task Group’s recommendation described in its handbook. 

This shared learning approach featured a number of bilateral visits between London and Santiago, including workshops to support collaboration and knowledge exchange. CDBB and UK experts offer technical assistance and support in the following four key areas:

  • Public leadership, policy and strategy
  • Building communities and using communication
  • Developing a collaborative framework of legal, technical and process standards
  • Increasing capacity through training, projects and progressive public procurement developments.

Chile is now producing its national BIM definition. It is a collaborative and process-based approach that is well aligned to the UK’s and European legal and technical principles and terms.

For example, in the UK, we would recognise the principles of PAS 1192-2 (and when issued ISO 19650). This is important to ensure we have that common digital language to procure, deliver and operate the built environment.

A major recent development is Chile’s hosting of a pan-Latin American governments BIM meeting (23 to 24 May this year).  This is a similar collaboration to the EU BIM Task Group, for regional governments to share best practices on the introduction of BIM and to support greater alignment in the region.

Ultimately, the UK’s leadership and collaborative approach is bringing countries together, creating alignment and opening markets. Other countries are looking to replicate and adapt the UK’s model to secure public sector and private sector benefits: driving value for public money by greater sector competitiveness; increasing productivity and profitability; improving delivery of services; and upskilling the workforce

By working together we are creating a digital language that is global and open, delivering domestic benefits for partner countries and facilitating trade across national borders. 

Main image: EU BIM Task Group – General Assembly meeting, Brussels 2 March 2018

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