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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

In a series of CDBB International blogs to mark CDBB Week 2019, a number of representatives from partner countries offer the in-country experience of collaborating to implement a national programme of digital change. Juan Camilo Pantoja, Project Director at FDN (Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional), reports on progress in Colombia.

Working with CDBB under the delivery of the Prosperity Fund Global Infrastructure Programme (GIP) in Colombia has been enriching. The sharing of the UK experience has been inspiring and prompted the convergence of discrete BIM initiatives in Colombia.

CDBB’s active participation in the programme has facilitated our engagement with relevant in-country stakeholders and helped disseminate the current international trends on digitalisation of the construction industry. Regular visits from the CDBB International team to Colombia, and constant communication with the embassy and our local partners, have been critical to the delivery of the programme by maintaining the momentum and interest of relevant stakeholders to work collaboratively towards a nation-wide vision of better infrastructure.

Public sector as key driver

In Colombia most, if not all, of the BIM initiatives are led by the private sector and CDBB is helping to guide the country into more efficient BIM implementation strategies where the public sector performs a more active role. The public sector can and should have a proactive role in a national wide-spectrum digital transformation programme – this model grows the sector benefits and national level impacts. As well as highlighting the importance of having a leading public sector, CDBB has also identified a challenge related to the sectorial imbalance of the existing BIM initiatives. Currently the housing sector is leading the digital transformation of the housing AEC-related industry and CDBB is advising the country about the benefits of involving a larger spectrum of sectors in this national strategy.

CDBB’s collaboration within the Prosperity Fund Global Infrastructure Programme has helped the government of Colombia identify and understand the different BIM initiatives active in the country and the region. It has thus facilitated the convergence of relevant stakeholders and raised awareness within public authorities about the need to design a national BIM policy to guide the digital transformation within the entire design/built/operate cycle across all sectors of the economy.

Synchronising efforts

So far, I believe this collaboration has had the most impact in the coordination of existing efforts driven by diverse private sector stakeholders, multilaterals and public sector departments. Working with CDBB and the Prosperity Fund GIP has helped to bring people together, create a common vision and synchronise efforts which places Colombia in a stronger position to nationally create transformation.

Colombia is just starting its BIM and digital journey and many challenges remain ahead for its government. We hope that CDBB will continue to play a key handholding role that may position the UK as the preferred partner to support this transition.

Strategic advisory support needs to continue for Colombia to have an effective national BIM policy. Major stakeholders within the public sector still need to become more active supporters of BIM and the experience and technical assistance CDBB can provide are crucial for this.

Preparing for smarter cities

Technical support around procurement of BIM in public infrastructure and professional training on digital technologies to better prepare and manage projects are largely needed in Colombia and is an opportunity for CDBB to continue working with its government. Finally, I believe there is a large opportunity for CDBB to help the government of Colombia plan for smarter cities especially by sharing their advancements on concepts like the ‘digital twin’.

Competitive advantage and trade opportunities

CDBB has collaborated with the Prosperity Fund GIP to deliver several workshops on BIM with key Colombian stakeholders including local development banks and public authorities and multilaterals, including the Banco de Desarrollo de América Latina -CAF- (the development bank of Latin America) and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). These workshops have raised awareness about UK expertise on BIM and infused an association between digital infrastructure and British consultants.

Some of the participants of these workshops are looking to include BIM requirements in their projects, which may offer a competitive advantage and new commercial opportunities. The CDBB and GIP programme has clearly helped Colombia progress on its digital transformation initiative for infrastructure development. In addition to primary benefits for Colombia, in terms of better-delivered public infrastructure – with the increase of digital requirements (BIM) being introduced to public projects in the near future – this will also present new commercial opportunities for UK firms.