On 9th October, core team member, Dr. Jenni Barrett, chaired an international panel of Women In BIM members to explore BIM, its adoption, challenges and opportunities experienced around the world. Our panelists included:
Luisa Correia – Digital Design Manager at Levitt Bernstein, London
Lindsay Prichard-Fox – Founder and CEO at Tiverbuilt, New York
Emma Hayes – Managing Director at Digital Built Consultants, Dublin
Kirsty Childs – Associate at WYG, Manchester
The discussion began with a retrospective of BIM development and adoption in the panelists’ varying jurisdictions. It was noted that in the UK, the public sector mandate for BIM adoption has resulted in a more universal take up. This contrasted with Lindsay’s experience where BIM has remained a private sector initiative and still tends to sit under the research and innovation umbrella of those private organisations who recognise its benefit.
All the panelists agreed that ISO19650 was a great move towards developing an international language for BIM. However, Luisa applied some caution, as she sometimes sees such standards used as a box ticking exercise for compliance. But, said Emma, implementation of the standards now means that we all play on same field, which means that expertise (not just data and information) can be more easily shared at a global level. BIM internationalisation can enable international collaboration. Kirsty welcomed this possibility but explained that this global work culture must be paralleled with an awareness of differences in international ethics, especially where BIM team might inadvertently be supporting work practices (e.g. modern slavery, unfair pay) that would not be acceptable in our own country.
Emma also pointed out that digitalisation of the construction industry means that global problems can be solved in a way that has improved client and user focus. In Ireland, which, like much of the urban world, is subject to significant housing pressures, the use of AR and VR on projects has allowed clients and users to more actively engage with the consultation process in the design and construction of large scale, volumetric housing. Emma said “by making design and delivery of social housing more efficient and visual, BIM empowers those in need so that we can hear their voices and give them a hand up, not just a hand out.” Lindsay agreed and reported her experiences of working on BuildChange and Habitat for Humanity projects, where digitalisation allowed design for less advantaged communities to be better tailored to their unique needs.
This was a great way to finish a truly fascinating conversation. Despite working in very different markets and project environments, the panelists shared the common experience and perception that BIM is moving towards international relevance, and is potentially a powerful global force for our industry. Particularly exciting are the discussions that lie ahead which identify BIM as a catalyst for building common good and equity in our global society.