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Centre for Digital Built Britain

 

The launch of the Global BIM Network, which took place at the Global BIM Summit held online on 17 March, attracted more than 1000 representatives from 97 countries around the world. Questions, discussion and response to live polls held throughout the two-hour summit reflected the increasing global interest in the shared benefits of implementing national Building Information Modelling (BIM)(1) strategies in infrastructure delivery through public procurement.   

Convened by the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) and funded by the Construction Innovation Hub and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Global BIM Network has been established to provide a digital forum for policy makers, public procurers and infrastructure investors to foster a more productive and collaborative global digital built environment through the implementation of BIM strategies that deliver benefits for people and places. Governments across the world are transforming the way infrastructure is designed, built, operated and integrated by implementing BIM to improve social, economic and environmental outcomes. By encouraging the adoption of BIM across the value chain, benefits are delivered to both the public and private sectors.  

Opening the Global BIM Summit, the keynote by the UK Construction Minister Rt Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP addressed the need for and benefits of digitalisation of the sector: “The digitalisation of construction will create better, more resilient infrastructure while minimising the impacts of climate change. This requires close collaboration between governments and industry, and the launch of the Global BIM Network is a vital next step. By bringing together policymakers from across the globe, the Network is committed to addressing the digital capability of the public sector in creating infrastructure that supports our ambition to build back greener and improve prosperity for all people and places.”  

A short film presented the work of a range of organisations which are laying foundations to enable the progression of BIM strategies around the world, including the UK. Keith Waller, Programme Director at the Construction Innovation Hub, highlighted the development of BIM tools and guidance to prepare businesses for the future.  He said: “Since the UK Government’s 2011 Construction Strategy, BIM implementation has driven sector-wide digitalisation. More than just impacting construction, we are now beginning to unlock the opportunities for improved value for the whole life of assets.” 

Bringing attention to the collaborative nature of the initiative, Adam Matthews, Chair of the Global BIM Network and Head of the CDBB International stream, said: “The digital opportunity the global infrastructure and construction sector faces is huge – the sector itself is valued at around $10 trillion globally per year and the estimate for savings that digital can bring to that is around $250 billion a year. The Global BIM Network is really about bringing everybody together. It's not about any one individual country, or any one particular region. It's about bringing all of our learnings together and creating better outcomes for people and places. It is a collective, global view that benefits the public sector, the private sector, and a view that ultimately will improve the outcomes for the global built environment. This is about the United Nations of BIM.” 

The event, which was hosted by Phil Bernstein, Associate Dean and Professor Adjunct at Yale School of Architecture, was presented live in English and Spanish and can be viewed in full here. The launch included the presentation of the new digital platform set up to facilitate connections between the international public sector and multi-lateral organisations – which can be found at globalbim.org. Members of the Global BIM Network will collaborate, share lessons learned and best practice to advance digitalisation strategies that deliver more sustainable, efficient and cost-effective infrastructure to communities around the world.  

Two panel discussions – ‘Collaborating to Improve the Built Environment’ and ‘Investing in digital transformation to improve global prosperity’ – held as part of the Summit featured representatives from a number of international government and multi-lateral organisations who spoke about their in-country experiences implementing BIM strategies to digitalise the built environment and deliver societal benefits including improved transparency, efficiency, sustainability and resilience.  Panels included: Jaroslav Nechyba, Director of BIM Strategy, Czech Republic; Tai Fatt Cheng, Managing Director of Built Environment & Innovation Institute, Singapore; Souheil Soubra, Chair of EU BIM; Ngoc-Binh TA, Head of BIM Team, Vietnam; Carolina Soto, President of Latin American Governments’ BIM Network; Claudia Suaznabar, Lead Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank; Ilektra Papadaki, Policy Officer, European Commission; Nigel Muñoz Oro, Regional Project Management Advisor, UNOPS; Thomas Edward Abell, Asian Development Bank (ADB); Adam Matthews, Head of International, CDBB; and Alanna Gluck, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, CDBB. 

“I think we are at a really interesting moment of convergence now,” said Bernstein. “Whenever you see a global change in a market like construction, it is never just one thing at work – it is several things coming together. In this current case it is the pandemic, ideas about technology, sustainability and social equity – all projects we can work on together and use BIM and the Global BIM Network to achieve our objectives. I would encourage everybody here to go to the platform and sign up. Let’s work together.” 

Sharing experiences and resources through the Global BIM Network avoids duplication of efforts and fosters common standards and policies to increase shared global benefits. The Network’s website is also a repository where members can find guidance, access and share documentation, protocols, operational manuals, case studies, tools, training materials and other resources to facilitate the strategic introduction of BIM worldwide. The Network is free to join and open to all public sector representatives, multi-lateral organisations and infrastructure investors interested in growing global benefits from the structured use of BIM as part of a programme of digitalisation.    

Current members include representatives from government ministries and agencies (economy, finance, construction, business and industry) and multi-lateral organisations (the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Inter-American Development Bank, Asia Development Bank). Individuals working in the private sector are welcome to access information and engage with the Network and can register interest at the home of the Global BIM Network, now live at globalbim.org.  

“There is wide recognition that digital can help build back better after the pandemic, can help build a better performing built environment, and deliver better value for the public purse – benefits which are accrued by both the public and private sector,” said Matthews. “The Global BIM Network is not just a talking shop. The Network will support the public sector and provide coherence and clarity to the global construction sector. I hope people do sign up and we would welcome contact from the public sector in countries who would like to participate with the Network and invite private sector organisations to sign up for our updates and we will be in touch with you during the year. We look forward to meeting everybody on the next session of the Global BIM Network.” 

The Global BIM Summit was supported by the HMG Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Department for International Trade (DIT), Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Construction Innovation Hub (CIH) and delivered by the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB).  

  1. BIM is the global methodology that provides a ‘common language’ for introducing digital practice and standards to the procurement, design and delivery of public social and economic infrastructure that optimises social, economic and environmental benefits for the public and private sector, and users of the built environment.