The Global BIM Network’s inaugural General Assembly, held online on Thursday 2 December 2021, brought together representatives from public sector organisations to hear how the growing digital construction sector is benefitting people and places globally – helping to build back better from COVID-19 and meet net-zero targets.
Adam Matthews, Head Of International Programme, Construction Innovation Hub, and Chair of the Global BIM Network Steering Committee, welcomed more than 300 public sector and multilateral representatives from 71 countries and set out the value proposition of digital transformation: “Digitalisation of the construction sector is estimated to save around $250bn a year. Clearly, this is important for the entire industry. As well as the target of generating these savings, we also have significant national and global goals including net zero and climate resilience.”
“The Global BIM Network has a vision to collaborate primarily as a public sector community and, together with the private sector, advance digital transformation across our global sector. There have been and will be challenges and the Global BIM Network brings together all stakeholders to accelerate and support this process and collaborate on solutions.”
The Global BIM Network’s Roadmap
The event marked the first time the Global BIM Network has officially convened and saw the launch of the Global BIM Network Roadmap for the Global Built Environment 2021-2025.
The Roadmap has been co-created by international public sector representatives and multi-lateral organisations, and public infrastructure funders connected through the Global BIM Network. It is designed to support public sector leadership efforts to work with industry on the critical opportunity of digitalisation in response to the pandemic – and to drive inclusive growth through capacity building and knowledge transfer.
The Roadmap references the Network’s ambition – to increase the global public sector’s digital capabilities and capacity and be a strong partner to the global construction industry – and identifies activities that the Network will work on collectively.
There are three phases to the Roadmap – Discovery, Development and Delivery. Network members can participate in working groups and events to shape the scope of the Roadmap prior to the final Delivery phase.
Adam Mathews said: “Our goal is to increase skills and experience in the public sector when introducing BIM into public infrastructure projects and programmes. To create scale and impact in this digital landscape we, as a leadership network, must reach a wider audience.”
Knowledge exchange panel sessions
Members of the Global BIM Network participated in three knowledge exchange panel sessions. In-country experience of regional and national digital construction initiatives gave insights on implementing BIM-based digital transformation strategies in public sector-funded projects.
Reflecting on the value of being part of the Global BIM Network, Ngoc-Binh TA, Head of BIM Team, Institute of Construction Economics, Ministry of Construction, Vietnam, said: “BIM was quite new in Vietnam when we began our journey. So being part of a wider network enabled us to consider approaches taken by other countries.”
Jaroslav Nechyba, Director of BIM Strategy Department, Czech Agency for Standardization, Czech Republic, said: “The Network has been valuable for building self-confidence. Other countries have different strategies and approaches and are at different stages. We can be inspired by those who are ahead of us, and we can give back to those who are slightly behind us by sharing our experience.”
The panel discussions considered topics key to digital built environment initiatives across the world, including national policies, programmes and featured people who are driving digital transformation in their countries, regions and organisations. Audience members participated through Slido polls and chat discussions. Each session featured short, pre-recorded presentations from the speakers. The presentations were followed by discussion between the presenters and moderator with audience input.
The first session focused on the cost benefits of Information Management and featured Milena Feustel, Co-Chair, EU BIM Task Group, EU who spoke of the cost-benefit analysis (CBA) for the use of BIM in public projects; and Claudia Suaznabar, Lead Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank, who summarised an evaluation methodology of BIM results in public construction projects. The discussion turned to the net-zero agenda and drivers for investing in BIM.
The second session looked at BIM implementation procurement practices worldwide and heard from Luke Belfield, Acting Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria, Department of Treasury and Finance, Australia, who outlined Australia’s Digital Build Program and recent Digital Asset Policy. The discussion considered strategy for supply chain uptake, the language of BIM and information management, and digital upskilling.
The final session highlighted how government and industry together can drive benefits for people and places. Fergus Harradence, Deputy Director, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, UK, discussed the UK Government strategy for BIM; and Daniel Gómez, Deputy Director, National Planning Department, Colombia, looked at the BIM journey in Colombia. Discussion turned to the role of BIM in reactivating the economy and overcoming resistance to change.
Adam Matthews closed the inaugural Global BIM Network’s General Assembly with a call to action. “We are working together to achieve a long-term effort and there is no single recipe for success. However, there are ingredients we can share. The public sector needs confidence that digital transformation will help address policy goals. We must share best practice about how to get there, and the Network is a significant source of information and support for the public sector’s journey towards digital transformation.”
“Interest in digital transformation is growing and change is happening. That is why we need the Roadmap now. We want to grow our Network community, so I urge public sector representatives to sign up and be part of the conversation. By working together, we can advance the digital transformation of the global built environment for the public good.”
Register to keep in touch about the work of the Global BIM Network here.