Building and environment design is going through a period of change and at the heart of this change is Building Information Modelling (BIM). It is a system that is revolutionising the way in which projects are followed through, from initial plans through to implementation and life cycle of the structure. Wembley Stadium and the Swansea Bridge are just some landmark structures designed using these systems.
BIM is more than just a tool to design 3D models. It acts as a common forum, used by engineers, architects, surveyors, as well as building contractors. On top of 3D models, it also takes into account time, seasons, costs and material information. This means that as the project develops and moves from team to team, everybody has access to the same information – helping to mitigate against any spatial clashes that often incur time and costs while using traditional non-integrated systems.
However, despite the clear advantages to all parties involved, BIM systems are not being widely used. Holding back many potential users is their network capability.
BIM requires users to access centrally held data, which while simple enough for a traditional LAN network to facilitate, is complicated when users are separated geographically. Site to site connectivity relies on good speeds, both down and up, and for many UK business’s ( particularly those in rural areas where infrastructure is poor) this still comes at a significant cost. Unsurprisingly BIM has largely been the preserve of larger companies who already have high speed networks.
The subject of affordable high speed internet is one of great importance to those in building and environment design . Digital technologies ( like BIM) have the capacity to be great levellers for society, but before they can be the ‘digital divide’ that characterises our broadband landscape will have to narrow. Let’s hope all the work being undertaken to solve these problems, by the government and private enterprises (including Fluidata) , will bear fruit soon for those in this industry and many others.