‘Too many acronyms’: Digital experts on BIM’s language problem

The world of Building Information Modelling (BIM) uses a language that those outside it struggle to understand and needs to change in order to drive adoption of the technology.

That’s according to several experts speaking at the Construction Digital Summit in London on 15 May, who highlighted how the terms BIM is described in are often virtually impenetrable to those not familiar with them.

Alistair Kell (pictured), principal at BDP and head of information technology and process said: “Something has to change. We are at a point where the technology is being adopted by a new generation and they adopt it well. This language is all they know.

“Those of us who are older have been brought up in a very different world and we need to figure how these worlds come together and move forward. Without that, our clients start scratching their heads when we start talking about EIR and AIR.”

Richard Saxon, associate director of Deploi BIM Strategies, urged the industry to avoid jargon: “You don’t need any of that new stuff. It only confuses,” he remarked.

And Alex Lubbock, head of digital construction at the Infrastructure & Projects Authority added: “We still have to explain to people what ‘BIM’ is as a word and that is a problem.”

Lubbock advocated the use of the term “digital” instead. He said: “The maturity of the UK is that we have moved across to start talking about digital. This is a Digital Construction Summit, not a BIM summit. Digital is synonymous with productivity. We don’t question digital because it is all around us.”

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  1. You can’t just replace the term BIM with digital!!!

    You will make all this a lot more complicated and woolly. It’s kind of like swapping the term football with sports.

    Digital relates to every information management process done in a digital way including management of documentation, site QA, meta data, laser scanning, etc etc.

    The above is basically “Digital Information Management”.

    Modelling, however, is a specific activity. You model data or use modelled data then you’re doing BIM.
    You walk on site using mobile devices and digital forms that may not model that data then that’s not BIM, that’s simply digital! Not every digital process requires modelling of data or using models and so you have just made a narrow topic very wide and more confusing to the masses who want to know exactly what to do.

    Think about 1192-2 & ISO 19650. They are Information Management standards that harness the power of BIM. They are not BIM standards, they are information management standards that have chosen BIM (the process of modelling) to facilitate it. If it was to say the blank term Digital… then that could mean anything and so have just made it more woolly than it was before.

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