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Centre for Digital Built Britain completed its five-year mission and closed its doors at the end of September 2022

This website remains as a legacy of the achievements of our five-year foundational journey towards a digital built Britain

CDBB is committed to promoting the UK BIM value to the international public sector community. Our International Development Programme, headed by Adam Matthews, aims to facilitate trade across countries by developing capabilities of foreign governments and public clients in digital construction, enabling them to achieve their policy goals by increasing productivity, reducing infrastructure cost overruns and delays, and ultimately delivering high quality built assets. Last year, the Programme operated across three pathfinder countries – Indonesia, Vietnam and Colombia – and in capacity build countries including Brazil, Mexico, and Peru.

An article in Revista Urbana, Public policy, a central factor for BIM implementation (p52-55) features CDBB’s International Programme. We are sharing an English translation by kind permission of the publisher.


Public policy, a central factor for BIM implementation

Vision and co-ordination are key factors for the development and implementation of public policy around BIM. To embrace the methodology, Urbana Magazine gathered some international expertise that highlights the work around state projects.

Construction is one of the least productive sectors on a global level, due to the low take-up of information technologies and an undertrained labour force. Due to this, BIM can be seen as an approach for addressing the difficulties of the sector and offering opportunities for innovation and improved productivity.

“With BIM, you can progress with the digitalisation of the management systems, of approving construction permits and of reducing their grant deadlines significantly. At the same time, you can leverage the use of sensors to move from corrective maintenance processes to predictive processes,” says Gonzalo Rivas, the Chief of the Competitiveness, Technology and Innovation Division at the Inter-American Development Bank (BID).

Since 2018, BID has provided technical and financial support to Latin American countries for the development and implementation of BIM policies, with the goal of improving productivity and sustainability in construction. According to Rivas, “In order to speed up the adoption of BIM, there should be a step-by-step mandate with BIM requirements in the public bidding documents that also include complementary activities.” In this way, BID supported the creation of the BIM Network of Latin American Governments, of which Colombia is part of.

“We are very used to working in a sectoral way. BIM requires us to break this paradigm so that all stakeholders involved have a common language. This is a transversal theme that involves various public institutions, but also requires intensive coordination efforts between the public sector, private sector and academia,” says Rivas.

Urbana Magazine gathered international expertise about the implementation of public policy around BIM as a guide for moving towards the digital transformation of the construction sector.


BIM Forum Colombia drives the digitisation of the construction sector

With the goal of coming up with recommendations for implementing the roadmap for BIM’s adoption in the country, Colombia formed a BIM Task Group comprising of the DNP (National Planning Department), the FDN (National Development Finance Corporation), the Ministry of Housing, City and Territory and their agents, academia and the stakeholders of the construction and infrastructure value chain in the public and private sector through the CCI (Colombian Chamber of Infrastructure) and of the BIM Forum Colombia (BFC), led by the Colombian Chamber of Construction (Camacol).

The BIM Work Group is fostering the CONPES 3975 of Digital Transformation and Artificial Intelligence that unveils the line of action for the projects relating to construction and infrastructure, which should create a development strategy for the digital transformation of the sector that allows for the creation, management and shared use of the information on projects through their life cycle.

On the other hand, Victoria Cunningham, the Director of Productivity and Sustainability of Camacol, says that “The BFC has supported technical input related to the adoption of BIM by the industry and in academia, just as they have with the definition of strategy documents, the roadmap and processes of dissemination and training. Likewise, it has made the BIM KIT available, comprised of seven documents that are the base guides that the country has for the implementation of BIM in companies.”

The BFC has also developed work streams between the National Government and the rest of the sector players, considering the needs of the industry and of the country. For this reason, “The products, expertise and lessons learned make significant input in setting out public policy and a roadmap, according to the reality of the country and the national industry,” says Cunningham.


The British Embassy supports digital transformation in Colombia

According to the Head of the International Programme for the UK's Centre for Digital Built Britain, Adam Matthews, implementation of BIM in Colombia “speeds up their infrastructure programmes, allows them to be more effective with their resources and to gain further funding. It also improves the skills and expertise of the construction sector, which supports economic development. Through the Global Infrastructure Programme of the Prosperity Fund and the British Embassy, the UK is helping countries like Colombia who are developing infrastructure and have a significant opportunity to improve the sector’s development efficiency".

The expert explained that: “The Embassy is very involved in implementing BIM in Colombia, through introducing the experience of the UK’s private sector to help Colombian businesses in transforming construction projects and improving their development practices and delivery process”, through roundtables with the BIM Task Group, advising on the creation of the BIM Strategy Document for Colombia and through support from experts.


Plan BIM Chile, backed by the government, academia and the private and public sectors

One of the Latin American countries that has advanced the most in the standardisation of BIM is Chile. However, the greatest challenge that it has faced has been integrating the stakeholders of the private and public construction sector and of academia, as well as fighting against resistance to change. The subdirector of Plan BIM of the Digital Transformation Committee of CORFO (Chilean Production Development Corporation), Sebastián Manríquez Fuentealba, remarks, “We have organised committees to generate knowledge in public institutions and so that they understand the added value that BIM brings for construction organisations and projects. We also train over 1,500 people and create a free platform for implementing the BIM matrix that has assessed more than 220 businesses.”

To implement a policy of BIM implementation, the process of digital transformation was linked with the Chilean government, which manages information for public investment and invites the private sector to apply methodology. “Both stakeholders recognise the benefits that it brings for the industry: greater productivity and sustainability for a sector that, according to studies by McKinsey, is one of the least productive on a global level,” states Fuentealba.

With the arrival of Plan BIM four years ago, the country has managed to change the concepts of technology and methodology, instate the importance of interoperability and provide more than 1,500 grants for training professionals. Currently, Chile has 10 types of projects with standardised BIM requirements that range from social housing to health infrastructure. As well as this, it has managed to control the information management within public projects.

Some of the recommendations that Fuentealba offers for achieving this implementation “count on political support to include other stakeholders within the transformation process. What’s more, the backing of the private sector, such as the Chilean Chamber of Construction, is needed, as well as having a team that works full time on the application. Finally, it would require cross-industry roundtables with all the industry stakeholders, in which the documentation that is developed is implemented”.


Costa Rica moves towards the normalisation and standardisation of BIM

For six years, the Central American country has gradually embarked on the adoption of BIM. “The methodology has been permeating businesses of every level and type, not just within construction companies, but property developers, designers of different disciplines, surveyors and project managers have also integrated it into their processes,” claims the Academic Director of the BIM+ Creative Academy, Johnny Mora.

Nonetheless, one of the greatest challenges that Costa Rica has faced is the lack of knowledge on BIM’s practical application, and that’s without the normalisation and standardisation of methodology. According to Mora, “It’s necessary to develop guides and standards agreed upon on a national level; to train industry professionals; to implement BIM in the labour sector to ensure it’s used throughout the project life cycle; to define the economic value of BIM services and to update professional profiles for the digital transformation of the sector”.

Since 2018, tools for the discussion and application of methodology guides have been created, as they have been in Plan BIM Costa Rica. They share, before the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Policy, guidelines for the legislation, regulation and application of BIM in the country. According to Mora, “This process will only be feasible with the participation of academia, professional regulatory bodies, the Union, their representatives and the government”.


United Kingdom: a model for implementing BIM in Latin America

In 2010, the UK Government and the construction industry came together to set out and implement a proposal to modernise the sector. One year later, BIM was introduced as a recommendation for improving the efficiency of the sector, reducing waste and errors. “The country created a BIM Task Group made up of industry bodies and government representatives, who wrote a report that defined the challenges of digital transformation (such as the lack of a common standard), the vision and the Task team,” comments Adam Matthews, Head of the International Programme for the UK's Centre for Digital Built Britain.

Along with Plan BIM, an implementation plan was created, as well as a proposal for funding, training for public and industry clients and, finally, the development of ISO 19650, an international standard for managing information over the whole life cycle of a built asset using building information modelling (BIM).

Matthews says that the process of innovation has been one of the greatest challenges of implementation. “BIM is different, it’s to do with the exchange of information to improve the construction process that requires education, training, communication and time to adapt. People and process innovation are critical focus areas for the BIM programme. That’s why providing guidance on how to use the standards is very important.”

Thanks to these advances, the European country is now one with a common language and a unique framework of legal and technical standards that allows businesses to carry out construction projects with an understanding of the information process.