It was with some cynicism that I read Simon Hart’s blog on LinkedIn Pulse today. While it’s always positive to hear about the government’s commitment to construction technology and process, what is the substance behind Vince Cable’s announcement? Remember that only a few months have passed since the government cut funding for the development to the BIM Task Group for Level 3 development. There is no question that there are many good examples of the use of BIM but this could be lost without a continuing incentive to commit to Level 2. I see the next years as a period of real risk where the standards that we are trying to implement across industry could fragment back into myBIM at a corporate level. If this happens the efficiencies and standardised building data that we are all hoping for will evaporate away.
The scaling back of government involvement in shaping policy on BIM is in my opinion a mistake. Almost without exception the large contractors and consultants that I talk to have started to develop their own flavour of Level 2, and there has been a regular stream of articles like this one by Frank McLeod which have an underlying message that Level 2 is overcomplicated, ‘let us simplify it for you’. The industry has proved that it needs the threat of losing contracts to make a commitment to follow a clear consistant method. Failing to implement BIM process itself over the 25 or more years that these ideas and workflows were around before the UK BIM Task Group got its mandate, shows that the strong hand of government is needed to make progress.
Level 3 BIM, whatever it ends up being, requires a much greater standardisation, functional links between software, clear process that all parties use, an industry wide classification system and digital planning tools like RIBA’s DPoW. Level 2 is the foundation for Level 3 and yet the industry seems determined to dilute it. Without the moderate levels of discipline in workflow and management that Level 2 requires it’s not possible to advance to Level 3. If the industry wriggles away from the commitment to Level 2, Level 3 will become little more than a marketing term that gives the impression of progression.