We are starting to master using BIM on buildings - now let’s think bigger

Andrew Pryke

Every so often it is good to take a step back and consider where the market might be heading and as I got ready for BIM Show Live in Manchester I found myself wondering what might be next for BIM.

Over the last couple of years the industry has focused its application on an individual building/scheme and we are now able to successfully adopt a whole life approach to BIM, which spans the design, construction and operations phase of an assets lifecycle.

Bam has already started to explore BIM’s adoption on a campus/development level, but I believe the next big opportunity lies with its application on a city scale.

There is no doubt in my mind that BIM and the city is the next frontier for the industry

The increased interest among city governments in the adoption of SMART city principles would provide a good catalyst for BIM’s adoption in this area. A smart city is one which uses data plus information and communications technology as a vehicle to improve social, economic and environmental performance. In the case of many cities, most of this data is already there in various forms it just needs a mechanism to bring it all together and I think that BIM is the answer.

Not only does it capture physical assets and their associated data it can also be augmented to contain additional layers of data from the public and private sector, as well as community organisations i.e. travel, council services, local group and commercial data. This could then be linked to a host of applications for smart phones, the web and tablets, opening up a vast array of opportunities to improve city sustainability and the lives of residents, workers and visitors.

Imagine a virtual city model that can be updated in real time to enable planners and the community to see the impact of a proposed development or show the energy and carbon performance of every building in the city. How about office applications that help you to find your meeting room, locate a hot desk and the colleague you are hoping to catch up with, even before you have entered the building or solutions that allow tourists to explore the city before they arrive and then highlight places they visited remotely as they pass them on their travels. The possibilities are endless.

There is no doubt in my mind that BIM and the city is the next frontier for the industry, and while I recognise this won’t happen overnight, we owe it to the UK’s cities to explore its potential in this area and ensure that they can realise the benefits of this approach.

Andrew Pryke is managing director for Bam Design and BIM director for Bam Construct UK’s property development, design, construction and FM services