What is BIM

‘Building Information Modelling is the current expression of construction industry innovation, a language of many dialects.’

Bilal Succar, 2016. A conceptual understanding of BIM through performance assessment and improvement.

It is like this definition because I strongly believe BIM is a moving idea, developing a body of knowledge. It centres around the evolution of the methodology for creating a virtual informational construct (an Information Model), through effective information management enables better decisions and, therefore, better project outcomes. Therefore primarily, it is a philosophy to ensure that through being managed and interconnected, information (carried on data) is the best it can be, a single source of truth.

Then exploring BIM philosophically, it is clear that it is a subject that is broader than technological authoring tools and technical management. Because these, in isolation, cannot achieve making the construction industry better. The real influence of BIM as a disruptive technology is that it aligns itself with the move toward more integrated ways of working and is an enabler of a more extensive cooperative endeavour.

UK BIM development evolved from a collaborative ideology alongside the operation of technology, including the Avanti programme and the UK BIM Level 2 Framework development. Therefore BIM is intertwined with collaboration, and collaboration is not a fixed thing in terms of its scope. Any two parties working together is collaboration. Therefore the extent and definition of the collaboration are vital.

Also, BIM is a series of interrelated innovations (technological and systematic) that form an innovation system. These innovations need to be coordinated and supported by methodological processes enabled by management, cultural change and new commercial and legal frameworks. These innovations include the many technological systems of BIM authoring and management tools, management systems, interoperability initiatives, the related design used in the information models and integrated concepts such as digital twins. These innovations are part of the systemic innovation disrupting the silos of Design, Construction and Operation and forcing collaboration with new project delivery and procurement types.

I like the definition of BIM at the beginning of this post because of the continual development and impact on all parts of construction that the virtual world of information modelling has.

As briefly and simply as possible, I believe BIM involves activities that create a developing complexity of increasingly self-governing digital twins. Digital twins are virtual mirrors of real-life construction entities. It is as BIM is part of an innovation system and Digital Transformation towards an increasingly Digitised construction industry. Importantly, these digital twins are increasingly becoming part of our digital ecosystem, supplementing their physical counterparts. They relate to emerging technologies such as Smart Cities, the Internet of things (IoT), the semantic web and Industry 4.0.

In this blog, I will explore all these topics and ideas that make up the notion of BIM for me.


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