Quality – Q7: What control measures do I need to impose or have been imposed?

It is clearly understood in the Information Management world that if information isn’t trusted or well managed/ structured it has little value to the end user. That value can be defined through its utility and urgency, but the foundations come from the quality which is upheld through standards and security.

The current standards are the ISO 19650 suite of documents and whilst these are what we should aim at, my experience is that they are still open to interpretation by the delivery partners, so it is advisable rather than just tell people to conform to a standard, set out clear definitions as to what you require from it.

Security can be a dirty word to many, but not only does it ensure just the people who need the information have access to it, but it reduces the amount of irrelevant data available and ensures that the consumer can trust what they see, safe in the knowledge that it cannot have been tampered with since it has been authored, approved and authorised.

The final part of this question and also the 7 questions as a whole is to conduct a quality analysis on the Information Management clauses, paragraphs and statements in the works information packages and contract. Check these off using Digital Construction Expectations document and finally prepare the Exchange Information Requirements to be issued to the delivery partners

To create a common understanding, these documents and the IM requirements need to be presented in person to all potential delivery partners in an open forum, allowing questions, answers and clarifications to be shared across the board.

This will create a feedback loop for the IM team to issue any further statements to clarify single points to all, so when contracts are signed there should be little or no ambiguity.

Lastly, a case study should be written at the end of the project to allow for lessons learnt and knowledge share on future projects.

8 Pillars of Better Information Management Wisdom and its Supporting Standards

Back in 2012 when the conversations about BIM really started in earnest, I put together what was known as the 8 Pillars of BIM Wisdom. These 8 headings of things that needed to be done has stood the test of time, and as we add more standards and experience each one appears to fit neatly into that list of headings.

I have taken the liberty however, to call it Better Information Management rather than BIM and reword Better Outcomes with Outcome Driven Procurement for clarity.

These were initially informed through my work with the UK BIM Taskgroup, the Crossrail Information Management Academy and the COMIT industry network.

Each pillar is supported by a selection of standards, methods or processes that help to deliver better information management, whether it’s during the capital or operational phases of your assets.

Over the last 8 years, some of the standards have changed, been updated or superseded altogether by international ones that satisfy a wider global need. However, the main titles have remained constant as they are the foundations of Better Information Management.

As we discussed at the beginning of this book, unless a standard is explained clearly by the capable client, then the delivery partner is free to interpret the standard how they see fit, leading to much confusion and increase in risk.

If asked, would I list standards in an EIR? I would hesitate to do so. I personally would pick out the important parts of the standard and tell the reader how I interpret them and what I require them to do about it. Just listing standards that can be interpreted in different ways is asking for trouble!

Collaboration

The definition of the word Collaborate is to work in association (sometimes invidiously with an enemy) and with the nature of the construction industry perhaps it is a very apt one!

It has been recognised for many hundreds of years that if we don’t work together in a team to achieve a collective goal, then it can have a negative impact on what we do affecting the following outcomes:

  • Time

  • Cost

  • Quality

  • Safety

  • Productivity

  • Resilience

  • Reputation/Image

  • Innovation

  • Disputes

 

These all have a significant impact on the productivity of our workforce and can be seen reflected in these figures published by the UK Office for National Statistics.

There are 3 mutually supporting factors in collaboration, without one of them, you will surely fail!

  • Common Vision and Leadership

  • Culture and behaviours

  • Processes and tools

Pinset mason made 16 recommendations for to encourage collaborative working in their 2016 report “Collaborative construction, more myth than reality”

  1. Changing Attitudes: greater commitment to change from major industry clients, the Government and public sector clients, and from the industry as a whole.

  2. BIM Adoption: continued use and development of BIM. In particular, greater clarity at the outset of projects as to when and how BIM is to be incorporated into the procurement, design, construction and operational phases.

  3. Strong Leadership: strong and consistent leadership from industry bodies and key industry figures.

  4. Greater Emphasis on Effective Team Working: greater attention to effective team working structures and techniques, and their role in a more collaborative project environment.

  5. New Contractual Structures: ensuring that contractual structures and obligations enhance and support collaborative working, by focussing on positive project outcomes and reducing the blame culture.

  6. Changing the Risk Profile: is placing a significant element of risk on the contractor sensible in an environment which requires innovation, participation and cooperation of all core project team members, in order to maximise client value and long-term cost efficiencies?

  7. Involving Key Supply Chain Members: actively engaging with, and involving, key supply chain members in the core project team and in the collaborative structures.

  8. Knowledge Centres: creating centres of knowledge for best practice guidance in effective collaboration.

  9. Training: training for industry professionals (in particular architects, quantity surveyors, and project managers) in collaborative techniques and the benefits of effective team working.

  10. Measuring Success Differently: measuring project success on the basis of overall life-cycle cost, sustainability and energy efficiency, as opposed to out-turn construction cost against budget / anticipated tender prices.

  11. Devolve Control: encouraging construction clients to be prepared to devolve management of projects to a core project team—even if this means a reduction in control.

  12. Evolution of the QS Role: development of the traditional QS role to include greater emphasis on long-term asset value and life cycle costs.

  13. Rewarding Success: encouraging construction clients to reward and incentivise project team members and key supply chain members, by giving all key players a financial stake in the project’s success against agreed benchmarks / targets.

  14. New KPIs: developing KPIs which define success and which measure, recognise and incentivise performance above benchmark levels, as well as penalising poor performance.

  15. New Contracts: developing standard form construction contracts and terms of appointment that encourage and embrace collaborative behaviours.

  16. New Insurance Models: development of insurance models, including the IPI model

This topic is covered in much more detail in the Digital Advancement Academy session: Collaboration for Digital Delivery, authored by Paul Wilkinson, industry advocate and resource of knowledge on the topic.

Many of the BIM/ Digital standards, guides and publications talk about and encourage collaboration the major international one being ISO 44001:2017.

ISO 44001:2017

This internationally recognised document primarily focuses on the management system of the organisation whilst recognising that effective collaboration requires multiple organisations to engage together and ensure that management principles, systems, processes and tools need to deliver the right environment for it to do so.

This framework for collaboration addresses several themes that start in high level management and follow down to the shop floor.

 

Looking at the four stakeholders; Customers, Suppliers, Internal departments and External collaborators, ISO 44001 delivers a well-structured approach to sharing resources, experience and skills supported by a method for developing, managing and leaving relationships through these four stages:

  • Assessment. Understanding your readiness at a cultural and structural level to be able to operate a collaborative relationship. This is a detailed and relationship specific approach, considering the practical elements the company should address before starting an inter-organisation relationship.

 

  • Potential partner assessment and selection – The process by which you will consider who you should have an inter-organisation relationship. with. 

 

  • Managing the relationship – How you can consistently monitor and improve the relationships with all parties. This can be achieved through the joint development and use of techniques such as SLA and KPI.

 

  • Terminating the relationship – Understanding the steps of how the relationship will end. Ensuring continuity for both organisations and planning to ensure the relationship end does not undermine key deliverables that you both worked hard for.

 

These stages are documented in the Relationship Management Plan (RMP).


The standard, ISO 44001 consists of two parts. Part 1 outlines the collaborative working framework with Part 2 providing a practical guide to implementation.

One of the UK’s biggest infrastructure owners, Network Rail has been a leader in introducing collaborative working principles and certification of this standard within its supply chain. This requirement will increase significantly over the next decade.

 

If you are looking for more information on best practices collaboration, please get in touch with Paul Wilkinson from PWCom.

 

Collaboration through simple artificial intelligence and social media

When considering collaboration in construction, it’s good to look at what has already been done, rather than re-invent the wheel!

Some of you will remember “Clippy” in the late 1990’s, which was the designed as a personal assistant that recognised what you were trying to do and suggested ways to help.

It was in the end, a disaster and universally hated for its optimism and the way it was optimised for first use! But this early AI could be a good way to assist in collaboration and increase productivity in a digital delivery.

Imagine, if you will, that you are about to design something in a specific location. Your design software is linked to the CDE and all project partners are using a single coordinate system. As you start to design your HVAC duct, the digital assistant pops up and tells you someone else is currently designing something in very close proximity to those coordinates, and here is their details so you can have a discussion about avoiding clashes before they happen.

On the same lines, you are designing a bridge pier on a large infrastructure project, the digital assistant recognises this and tells you that in this project (or perhaps one of the previous projects for this client) that there is already a design for this. And by the way, here it is and the information you need such as ground survey, borehole logs and the standards for this geographical location.

As with Clippy, you might be tempted to turn it off, but if it saved time, energy and money making the team more productive, could you afford to?

The other lesson to learn is the use of social media.

What happens when your computer throws up an error message you can’t recognise or don’t know what to do about? (if you don’t have a reliable IT hotline!) It’s most likely that you will copy and paste the error message into Google, which will take you to a forum, where someone has experienced this problem before, an expert has offered a response and many thousands of people in the same situation have resolved it the same way!

Transpose this to an installation task in an airport. You have 50000 lights to install and a team of 50 people doing the job. The first person goes to install it and finds that there is a fault. In the past they would have phoned up the manufacturers help line, who will give you advice, you will modify the fitting and get on with the job. The problem is, the other 49 members of the team will probably do something similar, getting potentially many different solutions that differ from the original design, which won’t be logged or recorded. This means that 50000 lights are fitted 50 different ways, leading to nightmares for the maintenance teams.

If this same situation has some form of project social media tool to back it up, then when the first incident happens, the worker could do what is currently natural to most people!

Take a picture of the problem, write about it and hashtag the manufacturer and classification.

The manufacturer, as part of the supply chain has an account on this project social media platform and are contracted to monitor it as part of their product support. They are notified that they have been tagged into a post, reacting quickly, they post a solution with instructions on how to resolve it.

The other 49 installation team members, have similar issues, but as they start to post, the social media shows them other posts with the same hash tags, which they can view and therefor all the installation team have access to a single resolution/ modification, which is traceable back to an official supply chain answer. This creates a Golden thread from the problem, the solution, the manufacturer and back to the physically installed asset itself. Searchable, accountable and with current social media platforms, not that hard to do!

The Construction Industry is notoriously conservative and take up of social media has been slow and patchy. But it has a quality that makes it an ideal medium for construction professionals and for companies to use to generate business. It is about people.

Social media enables us to build, strengthen and develop new relationships with construction professionals that would be impossible to sustain with just a telephone and face-to-face meetings. As human interactions are the key to successful construction business, social media is an indispensable tool.

If you want to learn more about how Social Media is impacting the construction industry and see how it could influence the social outcomes of your project get in touch with Su Butcher.

Electronic Data Management

When I first started in engineering back in the mid 90’s the company I worked for was transitioning from drawing board to computer aided draughting. This was a revolution for them and their clients, however the strict controls of a paper drawing in a hanging tank, that was updated on the original with pen, pencil and scalpel were lost, as uncontrolled copies started to be emailed, incompatible line types, layer naming and file structures made it almost a step backwards in productivity. It was only when strict electronic data management rules were brought into play and enforced that we got the efficiencies promised.

 

My first true digital delivery was back in the early 2000’s, where I was lucky enough to be involved in the Victoria Station Upgrade project which had a strong and knowledgeable client in Transport for London coupled with an excellent and forward leaning consultant. To help organise their data and ensure the whole team could trust what was in their Common Data Environment we used a standard created by the Avanti programme. This document called “Project Information Management, a Standard Method & Procedure” gave some excellent advice and structure to ensuring good data management within the project.

The key word in here is trust, so that people use that data as their single source of truth. For this to happen the data needs to be well organised, good quality and following a consistent set of libraries and standards.

In 2007 the Avanti toolkit was re-written and became the central standard in the UK drive for BIM Level 2. This was BS 1192:2007, which was adopted not just in the UK but also in many places around the world.

 

As the global BIM journey became more mature the need for a true international standard became more pressing, resulting in the ISO 19650 suite of documents to replace them.

These ISO’s combined with their local annex’s are an excellent source of standardisation when we look at electronic data management.

 

It is however perfectly acceptable to carry on with a project that has required the BS and PAS 1192 suite of standards through to completion. It will take time for the new standards to be reviewed by a capable client and their impact on what is to be delivered assessed and the EIR updated. Don’t just do a find and replace changing one for the other in your documentation!

BS 1192:2007

Originally published in 2008, this document is directly descended from the Avanti project put together to ensure we can both manage the production of AEC information. Primarily used to control data in the Capital expenditure phase and to manage the CDE. This standard allows all members to trust the information presented to them. The key concepts it talks about are:

 

  • The collaborative management process (Work In Progress, Shared, Published, Archive)

  • Naming of containers (files, layers and objects)

  • Coding of Project, Originator, Divisions, Types and Roles

  • Classification coding to ISO 12006 and Uniclass 2015

  • Suitability coding

  • Revision and Version numbering

  • Zoning (breaking up of information into systems, spaces and volumes

  • Is replaced by ISO 19650 part 1 coupled with the UK Annex.

 

It is still an excellent standard and should not be simply dismissed.

ISO 19650

There is some excellent guidance documentation written about the ISO 19650 series of documents by the UK BIM Alliance which helps you match up the clauses in the standard with plain language advice. To read the online documents use this link.

 

The ISO 19650 suite of documents follow the main principles of the original 1192 set (as well as the original Avanti document!) so all the work on OIR/AIR/EIR/PIM/AIM/BEP/TIDP/MIDP/CDE is not wasted!

Slight changes are:

  • PIR – Project Information Requirements – This was Plain Language Questions (PLQs) but is now clearer to many!

  • EIR – Exchange Information Requirements – the concept hasn’t changed, just the words from Employers to Exchange. This is supposed to be clearer, but I would argue that this new word is slightly misleading as it’s not just about information at the point of exchange, but how that information is authored, authorised, managed, validated and much more, all leading to a valuable digital asset delivery to the client (or employer) However the acronym EIR is embedded in BIM and the word Employer doesn’t translate into international language and CIR for Clients Information Requirements wasn’t going to float!

Part 1 deals with the management of Electronic/ Digital Data Management setting out the principles and concepts.

Part 2 deals with the delivery phase of the lifecycle so therefore replaces PAS1192 part 2 for our CAPEX information management standards.

Here is a comparison of some terms between the UK BIM Standards and the International BIM Standards

Other changes in the move from a BS to an International standard are:

  • The identification of information containers (naming convention) in the UK National Annex to BS EN ISO 19650‑2 has been adjusted in response to industry feedback since the publication of BS 1192 and PAS 1192‑2.

       However, in my opinion this is still a crazy hang up from when information was outside a CDE and was exchanged via CD or USB. The naming         convention defines information that should be (and in most cases is) included in the metadata for the container in the CDE system. This                 naming convention only encourages data to be extracted and placed into uncontrolled systems or exchange methods.

  • BIM maturity is described in BS EN ISO 19650‑1 in terms of “stages” rather than “levels”, as were used in PAS 1192‑2

       

       If you have read or listen to any of my thoughts on this, you will know that I disapproved of the original levels and especially of the “wedge”             diagram that kicked people off into the wrong direction in the first place! By concentrating on levels, we created a race for the finish where             how you got there didn’t seem to matter, but it created a wasteful market of people certifying or claiming achievement of something that               wasn’t clearly defined in the first place. And even to my horror came to uneducated clients demanding level 4’s and 5’s and the consultants             charging for them!!

So, this change is a good thing, but time will tell what it’s impact will actually be!

stages of BIM.jpg
  • Employer/Client = Appointing party. Delivery Partner = Lead appointed party (tier 1). Supply chain = appointed party (tier 2 and below). The ISO 19650 term depends on where in the hierarchy the supplier is located.

  • This definition is good for international language and projects as well as helping to clarify things.

interfaces.jpg
Workflow
  • The workflow we have all got used to from the Avanti methodology and BS 1192 is still the same well proven and trusted process. The only clarification is that the Archive will also include all the audit trail of changes throughout the history of all pieces of data. This underlines the trust and value delivering the Golden Thread required in the Hackitt report.

  • It’s worth re-iterating some of the points about the workflows, but I thoroughly recommend reading the standard, or one of the many guides and attending the ISO 19650 course available through the Digital Advancement Academies.

  • Work in Progress is the only state where information is generated and amended

  • Ensure you have some form of combined automated & manual checking process in place that will ensure that before it becomes shared, all the information is quality assured against the standards you set in the EIR.

  • Make sure that participants regularly share their information, even if they set it at a “Suitable for information” S2 status. This stops surprises happening after 6 months of isolated work!

  • You can publish RFI’s straight out of the WIP without them being shared, just make sure they are correctly labelled.

  • If a change is required to a shared piece of information, it’s state should be set to “work in progress”

  • If information isn’t of use to the client but needs to be held onto for legal reasons, it needs to be published straight into the “Archive” along with all old revisions/ versions to demonstrate the “chain of evidence” of this piece of information.

  • The Published area is owned and maintained by the owner/ operator. It costs money to ensure this information is up to date, so only information that is valuable (and/or paid for!) will be stored here.

  • If published information needs changing, then back to WIP it goes!

  • In a common data environment, file-based information should never move about, its state and status metadata should just change controlling the security/ access to it.

CDE.jpg
Status codes for information containers

These have been updated since BS 1192:2007 so they are of a more useful and granular level.

  • Status codes help define what a piece of information is “Suitable for”

  • If one doesn’t exist in the standard that suits your needs, then make sure it’s documented in your BIM protocols standard and describe it using plain text.

  • Never have these as part of your naming convention!

Revisions and versions
  • A version is a subdivision of a revision

  • In WIP the versions all begin with a P and have numbers such as 1.1, 1.2 etc.

  • In Shared we have revisions beginning with P and have numbers such as 1, 2 etc. (notice no WIP versions)

  • Once P1.5 has been shared as P1, it also forms the starting point for P2.1 and so the process starts again!

  • Never have these as part of your naming convention either!

  • Files are never moved around; their status changes and they are “revealed” to a new set of roles.

  • This may seem strange at first, but the sequence could be:

CAPEX Information Management

PAS 1192-2 and ISO 19650-2

Both standards are very good, along with a myriad of guides, notes and other publications.

The main focus in CAPEX information management is around the following diagram that first appeared in PAS 1192-2 and has been updated for the ISO 19650 suite of documents.

Management of data in both the CAPEX and OPEX phases of the lifecycle revolves around the Common Data Environment which we have covered in a previous chapter.

This CDE is preferably the same set up, but a different physical system for the different phases.

The CAPEX information management phase starts when the client briefs the potential delivery partners, handing over relevant existing asset information and various documents such as an EIR that includes their desired outcome. Throughout the lifecycle, there are defined stakeholder decision points (Critical Success Factors and Outcome Statements) that will need to be satisfied with information packages from the delivery team. These stakeholders come in the form of client, end user and authorising organisations. Each will need an information exchange delivered at the right moment to help them make the decision.

Throughout the CAPEX phase the delivery team need to ensure that the digital asset they are creating delivers value to whoever is paying for it. Without value, there is little hope in it being delivered.

Digital Commissioning

If you fail to commission a physical asset, how do we know that it will safely deliver the function it was intended to perform? This could potentially lead to disastrous consequences. The same could be said for the digital asset also.

Two situations in my career spring to mind when looking at this. The first is when I was first starting out looking at Asset Data Dictionaries and forming the IADD4UK group. I conducted a “Freedom of information act” request with many local authorities asking what information they held (if any) against the countless manholes and chambers in their asset portfolios. A good many of the responses to this query were “what manholes?” but encouragingly enough an equal amount responded with pages of metadata. When asked about when the last time the information was checked, it turned out it had never been checked, they just accepted the data and if needed went and conducted a survey, completely devaluing anything in their database! This data had been delivered 30 years before, when asked if it had been updated since, the response was invariably “I can’t answer that question”!

The second incident was at the very beginning of my working life, a new generator had been handed over along with what was thought to be the PDF manual. It wasn’t, it was the manual for a different generator and when used to identify how to isolate it before work could commence, the unfortunate maintenance engineer received a life changing electric shock.

The lessons I took from these incidents were that we commission the physical because it might be faulty and kill us, but we forget that the digital may also be faulty and lead to a disaster. And we must ensure that information is maintained once handed over!

When we define our AIR, we set out a series of information needs throughout the lifecycle of the asset in question to help us make a decision, answer a question or carry out a task. One of those stages of the lifecycle is commissioning.

At this stage, the commissioning authority or agent typically follows a set of procedures and standards set during the design phase that will ensure the physical asset performs the desired function in an efficient and safe way. This will include the checking of O&M manuals.

As we move away from document-based O&M information and into a database that may have many innovative ways of delivering information on an asset, such as videos, 3D animations, audio commands and augmented reality the task of commissioning becomes more complex. This must be planned and costed into the agent’s contract

An example might be, if my digital asset is a combination of database entries, a 3D CAD object, with several electronic documents, a couple of videos and an VR educational gaming file. I would need to ensure that each one had the Asset Tag ID Label in place and that it linked through to every other piece of connected information. I would need to check that the asset breakdown structure linked the asset through to the systems and functional groupings both above and below it. Ensuring the video is authorised by the manufacturer and contains the correct make/ model of the asset is a small part of the process.

 

Things that may want to be included in the commissioning plan for the digital asset might be:

  • Does the product fulfil the digital function?

  • Asset Tag Label/ID on all information connected to this product

  • Database links are correct

  • Correct location and relationships within the asset breakdown structure

  • Correct formats of data

  • Testing information to ensure validity, quality and trustworthiness.

  • Correlation of Information back to the original plain language questions/ tasks/ decisions

  • Tracing the author to ensure liability and responsibility is maintained.

Run scenarios to ensure information for Operations, Maintenance, Disposal and Disaster are available to the person who needs it. You test the physical, test the digital!

Commissioning the physical without doing the same for the digital is a recipe for disaster. We need to test the information packages being delivered to ensure they are fit for purpose and are worth the money we are paying for them. This will take time and resource, ensure that it’s in the plan and the responsibility matrix.

OPEX Information Management

One of the most frustrating things in our industry, is the disconnect between the CAPEX and OPEX lifecycles and departments that run them. During conversations in the Digital Advancement Academy I constantly hear discussions, better described as arguments, between these two, along the lines of “If I gave you more of my budget, so that you could give me a digital asset I’m losing out twice!

 

Firstly, I have a less money under my control and secondly less people in my reporting chain” The operational management are concerned that with less budget they will be less important and because they are delivered a better package, they don’t need a team to go out and resurvey, thereby reducing their headcount and the number of people in their department! Many of them consistently fail to realise the long-term strategy that, yes, their budget is smaller and yes, they can probably do with less people, but they will be able to deliver the business outcomes of the organisation more reliably and with less risk.

By joining forces and combining both the capital and operational expenditure under one budget, we should be able to ensure that there is a long-term balance between the two, unfortunately in many organisations this is a pipe dream! 

When looking at operational information management the first set of standards to turn to, is ISO 55000 which looks at project and asset management. (one could argue this sits under ISO 9001 quality management, which I agree with, but that is not the topic of this page!)

ISO 55000 series

The ISO 55000 series of standards (ISO 55000, 55001 & 55002) defines the requirements for a management system for Asset Management. This is the combination of specific interacting elements that provide direction, alignment, coordination, control and continual improvement in the effective management of assets.

In other words, it is a set of components whose combined effect will deliver performance and assurance of ‘competent’ asset management practices. This does not cover all aspects of the discipline of asset management, however. It only considers the ‘must do’ items, without addressing the ‘should do’ or ‘could do’ elements. Nor does it address the appropriateness or degree of refinement in methods employed, or the potential for exceeding the minimum requirements. The management system must therefore be considered as a subset of the whole subject of asset management.

ISO55000

An asset management system is used by the organisation to direct, coordinate and control asset management activities. It can provide improved risk control and gives assurance that the asset management objectives will be achieved on a consistent basis. However, not all asset management activities can be formalised through an asset management system.

 

For example, aspects such as leadership, culture, motivation, behavior, which can have a significant influence on the achievement of asset management objectives, may be managed by the organisation using arrangements outside the asset management system

The strategies, policies and plans that are set in ISO 55000 support those of the organisation itself, so it stands to reason that they will also help define and asset information strategy that will lead to the realisation of the business objectives.

PAS 1192-3

This standard was developed to partner PAS 1192-2 to support a complete lifecycle approach to the BIM objective in the UK’s drive for Level 2. It addressed the Operational phase of the asset, irrespective of how it was acquired.

It is centred around the Asset Information Model (AIM) which we have dealt with in an earlier chapter.

It aimed to assist the reduction of operational costs through the transfer of detailed, trustworthy information from one party to another. Raise the awareness of the need for operational and maintenance information in the digital asset and to use that information to help monitor the performance and functionality of the asset.

PAS 1192-3 encouraged improved planning across the business by having better quality information about the assets.

This is due to be replaced by the new ISO 19650 part 3 standards during 2020.

ISO 19650-3

At the time of writing this standard is still being written but will follow closely the PAS part 3 and will use international language and should be read in conjunction with a local national annex.

Information Exchange

The ability to transmit, hand over or exchange information in a way that retains the value and integrity of the original is of paramount importance in keeping the Golden Thread alive. The ideal situation is if the client owns/ controls both the PIM and AIM then they can ensure that the information, metadata and structure in one is compatible with the other, and the passage of information between them is smooth with little risk.

The problems come when information (whether it is graphical or non-graphical) needs to be translated, converted or restructured when being passed between them.

What is the definition of interoperability? “It is the ability of two or more systems to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged.”

Interoperability issues have plagued our industry ever since we moved from a drawing board to an electronic method of communicating our design intent. In 2004 the Gallehar et al. report demonstrated that building owners bear a significant cost and risk because of this.

And it’s an issue that is still troubling us 16 years later and one I fear will not be resolved until we either have some form of agreed international standard data dictionary to define what and how information is structured and communicated or every piece of software uses an open data standard.

Technology has triggered this crisis and I hope that it can also give us the solution, away from outdated spreadsheets and schemas being thrown over the contract fence at the end of each phase!

BS 1192-4

This British standard tells us that we need to set a common method for exchanging information between all parties. The whole standard is based around getting you to use COBie (Construction Operations Building information exchange) a schema created by the US Army Corps of Engineers back in 2007. This will probably be updated in the next few years with an ISO 19650 document.

COBie

In December 2005, a group was formed in the United States specifically to promote the development of a National Building Information Model Standard (NBIMS). A proposed component of the NBIMS standard was called COBie. The purpose of COBie was to improve how information was captured during design and construction, and then provide it for operations, maintenance, and asset management purposes. COBIE eliminated the need to create and transfer boxes full of paper construction documents to facility operators following completion of the project.

In its most common format, you'll see it appear as an Excel spreadsheet (although it does work best in XML). I'm not going to attempt to explain the COBie structure or how to use it here, as there are some great minds who can do it better, whether they are from Bill East's team in the US or the various BuildingSmart chapters.

 

What I will do however is to give you some simple pointers:

  • COBie is an exchange schema, don't store information in it. Let your system create it and someone else's system consume it. Liken it to a suitcase, you should transport your clothes but never store them inside!

  • If you can avoid opening the Excel file, do so. If you are not conversant with COBie then it will only confuse and worry you!

  • COBie is for metadata and not for geometry.

I have to admit, COBie is one of my biggest disappointments in the BIM world. It feels that we are trying to mechanise and make a horse do things that it shouldn’t, rather than inventing a motorcar specifically designed for the purpose. However, for the want of any accepted alternative, it will serve its purpose in exchanging information.

Information Security

If there is one reason for a project or organisation failing to achieve the old BIM Level 2 or new Stage 2 it is their adherence to security protocols and an understanding of the standards set in place to help.

A Digital Twin is a gold mine for criminal and terrorist groups that want to understand where your assets are most vulnerable and which ones are critical for them to achieve their objectives. The information contained in a COBie spreadsheet, emailed across an insecure internet could bring entire organisations or countries to their knees!

As soon as the need for a piece of information is created, this empty container should be risk assessed and a level of security set.

It is an interesting thought, that once created the author of a piece of information might not have the clearance to see their information in context with the bigger picture. I think this will become a definite reality when we start to create a true National Digital Twin.

There are a few lessons that we’ve learnt in the academy that are worth sharing with you here:

Volumes and Volume Strategy

At the beginning of a project, the information management team will create a volume strategy that will help to reduce clashes and improve interfaces between design disciplines. This volume strategy can also assist with security when you don’t want people to know what might be inside a volume but can say that they cannot encroach on it. Examples of this are with cabling for CCTV and alarm systems.

Common Data Environment

Information and files kept inside a CDE can have role and state-based access ensuring that participants only see the information that they need to do their job. Downloading files from the CDE and working on them outside of the system adds a layer of risk that another version of the file could remain on the local machine for years afterwards, especially when it might be the existing asset information, surveys and scans that could be accessed by people without clearance.

USB

Transferring files from one machine to another using USB has to be one of the biggest holes in the security of a project opening the machine up to malicious viruses and spyware. Many organisations disable the USB ports on their machines for this reason or require specific encrypted hardware.

End Dating information

If information needs to be taken outside of the CDE and distributed in a relatively uncontrolled manner, then having some form of “self-destruct timer” on the file is perfect. This stops long term access to what will probably be out of date information.

COBie

I had a very interesting conversation around COBie whilst talking to some Nuclear owners. I personally considered it a very insecure way to transmit information, but they overcame this by not putting information in the file, but by putting links to the information. So that the receiving system had to have access and security clearance to seek out the information, download it and place it into its own receiving database!

Digital security of the physical

Almost everyone has a phone and very few don’t have a digital camera embedded inside, giving increased opportunities to conduct reconnaissance for criminal or terrorist activity. So just the same as we provide security for our digital assets, we need to think about digital security risks for our physical assets.

Due to recent attacks on our cities using heavy good vehicles on crowded pedestrian places, many popular locations are installing shallow mount security bollards. Whilst being able to stop 7 tonnes of fast-moving vehicle, they are only effective when correctly installed and facing the right way. During installation, they ought to be shrouded, so that anyone with malicious intent does not know which way to perhaps drive multiple vehicles, one to take out the bollard and one to attack the crowd.

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Too much detail in the 3D model

It is very tempting to really “go to town” on a 3D model, placing all your information in the file, attached to the 3D objects. But aside from the file size issues and the fact that it restricts access to the valuable information to only those that can install the software and navigate the system, there is a considerable security issue also.

If all the information is in one file, and the data is given to someone to use for their purpose, they now have the added burden of being responsible for the security of the data for the entire project! They may only be installing the electrics, but now have access to all the data about the structural steelwork, ventilation shafts and security alarm systems. Enough data to plan and carry out something that will cause catastrophic loss of the asset and human life!

The 3D Picture

No matter how wonderful and pretty it looks, placing an image of a detailed 3D model onto publicity shots or websites could lead to much of the information you are trying to hide becoming public. An example of this was the Victoria Station Upgrade project over a decade ago. They were very proud of their 3D design (and rightly so) but failed to think of the security implications when the marketing department wanted to show the world. It was quickly rectified, but if the security implications had been made clear to all members of the project team, then this would have been avoided.

PAS 1192-5

PAS 1192-5 specifies the processes which will assist organisations in identifying and implementing appropriate and proportionate measures to reduce the risk of loss or disclosure of information which could impact on the safety and security of:

  • Personnel and other occupants or users of the built asset and its services

  • The built asset itself

  • Asset information

  • The benefits the built asset exists to deliver.

Such processes can also be applied to protect against the loss, theft or disclosure of valuable commercial information and intellectual property.

Embedding good security can give competitive advantage to commercial enterprises by protecting their key assets and building trust with their stakeholders and customers in the services and products they provide. For those involved in the design and delivery of new or modified assets, it can also enhance global positioning in the international construction market, particularly for high profile and sensitive projects.

PAS 1192-5:2015 was commissioned and delivered in record time by the UK’s Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), who provided the technical authors for its development. The British Standards Institution (BSI) facilitated its production with input from a panel of industry experts.

ISO 19650 -5

This new standard released in July starts with the statement:

Security – The State of relative freedom from threat or harm caused by deliberate, unwanted, hostile or malicious acts.

This standard brings together 3 standards and the feedback/ lessons learnt from their employment over the last 5 years. PAS_1192 -5:2015, PAS_1085:2018 and PAS_185:2017 that delivered security aspects of BIM, Manufacturing and Smart Cities.

The key difference is that this new ISO establishes governance, accountability and responsibility from the top down. Combining top level accountability with devolved responsibility all the way down through the supply chain.

Its talks us through two key documents that need to be written by the project/ asset team:

The Security Strategy details how the delivery partners will apply the security triage process, how the governance and accountability need to be applied. It will identify specific risks, how they need to be mitigated or tolerated.

The Security Management Plan now included the Security Information Requirements database rather than it being a separate document. In my experience it was easier to do this at Function level rather than individual Functional Units or Elements.

This plan also lays out the policies defining the security related business rules and the processes derived from them.

Significantly this document should set out how information security should be handled between all members of the supply chain however they access and submit information even down to the logistics teams. The plan should also contain how the project/ asset team should monitor security, react when a breach is detected and how to update the mechanisms to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.

Projects will always contain information from multiple sources and provision must be made for information assessments, apply the processes throughout those sources and ensure when any of this information is made available to the public it complies and doesn’t present anything that could prove to be a security risk.

Information security is incredibly important subject, increasingly so when we hear about cyber-attacks not only on individuals, but on entire countries, looking at trying to shut down the very infrastructure that makes life possible. So, take this subject seriously and ignore it at your peril!

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Better Outcomes

This pillar is actually a fundamental reason why all this is being done in the first place! If we didn’t achieve better financial, environmental and societal outcomes by doing all this digital hard work, it would be pointless!

The UK Government Soft Landings set of documents which we have already covered in detail, sets out what client organisations ought to be doing in this area and how they can set themselves up to procure better outcomes for them and their end user or customer.

Shortly after the release of the GSL documents, BSI published the following two updates to standards. They are little mentioned in other BIM books or presentations, but they are an important part of delivering a Digital Twin.

BS 8536-1

BS 8536-1:2015 is part of the BIM level 2 suite of documents developed to help the construction industry adopt BIM. It gives recommendations for the use of data and information needed for briefing for design and construction, ensuring that the future performance and use of a building is considered. The standard applies to all new building’s projects and major refurbishments.  

This standard is aimed at architects, designers, structural engineers, mechanical and electrical engineers, estate managers, facility managers, owners and operator asset managers.

This standard provides guidance on adopting a systematic approach and using data and documentation to help ensure design takes into account the expected use of an asset during its entire lifetime. This will help improve operational performance and reduce costs, plus increase the value of an asset. It also gives guidance on how to extend the supply chain involvement through to operations and defined periods of aftercare.

BS 8536-2

BS 8536-2:2016 is part of the original BIM level 2 suite of documents developed by the UK to help their construction industry adopt best practices in BIM. It gives recommendations for providing a systematic, structured approach to briefing for design and construction projects, in relation to energy, telecommunication, transport, water and other utilities’ infrastructure. 

This standard is aimed at owners upgrading an existing asset, organisations procuring a new asset, designers, builders, operations companies and their teams, asset managers and other specialists in this supply chain

It provides briefing recommendations for the design and operational performance of infrastructure assets. It encourages an adoption of a systematic approach to briefing helping to ensure that design takes into account the expected use of an asset during its entire lifetime. This will help improve operational performance and reduce costs, plus increase the value of an asset. It also gives guidance on how to extend the supply chain involvement through to operations and defined periods of aftercare.

 

Information Definition Standards

This last pillar could be looked at as multiple pillars in their own right, but in essence it is a catch all to ensure that every member of the delivery team from both supply chain and client slide are using the same definitions for creating their information.

This covers; templates, libraries, file types, naming conventions, coordinate systems, data dictionaries and classifications to name a few!

The key being that everyone uses them, and information is quality assured against them before it is shared, so that the risks of delivery are significantly reduced. These standards and how the delivery partners are to follow them should be set out in the Exchange Information Requirements (EIR) document, be contractually binding and enforced by the CDE.

ISO 12006-2

This standard defines a framework for the development of built environment classification systems. It identifies a set of recommended classification table titles for a range of information object classes according to particular views. It shows how the object classes classified in each table are related, as a series of systems and sub-systems. It does not provide a complete operational classification system, nor does it provide the content of the tables, though it does give examples.

ISO 12006 is intended for use by organisations which develop and publish classification systems and tables, such as Uniclass, which may vary in detail to suit local needs. It applies to the complete life cycle of construction works, including briefing, design, documentation, construction, operation and maintenance, and demolition. Being applicable to both building and civil engineering works, including associated engineering services and landscaping.

Uniclass 2015

Uniclass 2015 is a unified classification for the UK industry covering all construction sectors. It contains consistent tables classifying items of all scale from a facility such as a railway down through to products such as a CCTV camera in a railway station.

Whilst not part of the UK BIM Level 2 mandate, it is a highly recommended classification system providing a framework of common identification to assets.

Originally born out of Construction Project Information Committee (CPIC) initiative in 1997, its latest iteration is being curated by RIBA and the NBS who are supporting the BIM4 groups in developing the classifications specific to their sector of the industry.

This should guide your object and layer naming conventions, as well as the lower levels of your assert breakdown structure and a key piece of information in your asset tagging strategy.

There are international alternatives, but the key point being that there should be a single agreed classification system for your asset portfolio.

As we move into a National Digital Twin, where multiple owners’ twins are interfaced, then it is even more important that there is a national standard in classification.

CPV

CPV codes are a system of classification for EU public procurement which uses standardised vocabulary to help procurement personnel classify their contract notices consistently and to make it easier for suppliers and contracting authorities to find notices.

 

CPV stands for Common Procurement Vocabulary and the system was developed by the European Union as a tool to improve transparency and efficiency in public procurement.

Using a standardised coding format also makes it easier to facilitate the processing of tenders published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). The use of CPVs has been mandatory in the European Union since 1 February 2006.

 

The CPV system consists of a main vocabulary, which defines the type of contract; and a supplementary vocabulary, which adds further qualitative information about the contract. The main vocabulary is made up of approximately 9450 terms, listing goods, works and services which are commonly used in procurement.


Why list them here? We have a need to create Task Information Delivery Plans (TIDP), which currently don’t have a standard naming convention for the tasks. The CPV system would allow a standard library of tasks and their common information requirements to be built up into a library. This library would help in the automation of delivery and accurate simulation of the procurement process.

 

The price of Standards

In this section we have briefly covered many standards that are felt to be essential for digital delivery, some are British standards, others are international, whilst some are purely guidelines.

 

In my experience of projects, as soon as you write down that someone needs to comply with a standard, especially a trending one like the BIM standards, two things increase. One is the risk of multiple parties interpreting and implementing it in a different way, the other is the increased price of delivery!

 

When talking to some of the projects that have had a digital delivery, the ones that have found success in that area have clearly defined what they want in detail, some even to a point of not mentioning the standard at all, to ensure they get a consistent, unambiguous digital delivery.

© 2017 - 2020 by COMIT Projects Ltd.

 

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