Why standards? I hear you say. Why do we need standards such as ISO 19650 when we talk about BIM and all other codes of practice and guidance? Why can’t I just get on with my journey and do my job?

A good way of explaining this would be to look at something we use daily such as roads and highways. Without making this a history lesson, in short, as we know, roads date back centuries with some of the more well-known examples being roman made. These roads were built initially so armies could travel directly and in doing so more efficiently rather than over unmade ground causing frustration and impacting on time and cost.

Fast forward to modern day, in place are highway systems of great complexity alongside emerging smart infrastructures. Imagine the chaos and safety implication if we did not have structured sets of rules in how to use these roads yet alone how these are managed should a change occur.

Let us break this down:

  1. Within these roads system in the UK we have the highway code (a standard) that provides motorist, cyclist, pedestrians and anyone else using the road, guidance relating to a safe way in which we use and travel.
  2. Also, we have signage(symbology) such as speed limits, no entry, school crossing and traffic signal systems to name but a few. And let us not forget vehicle registration plates.
  3. The final part would be driving licences (certification) that must be applied for and exams passed to use these highways correctly, and of course, the vehicle you travel in must be for purpose (business certification)
  1. Highway Code / ISO 19650

If we start with highway code, in the UK this document contains instructions regarding the dos and don’ts of the road and therefore best practice. On its own, it is not legally binding, but it does contain terminology which is referenced by UK law.

Similar to this when we think of BIM we have ISO 19650 series of which parts 1 & 2 were published in 2018 which cover the concepts and principles, part 1, in support of the management and production of information during the life cycle of built assets and part 2, which outlines the delivery phase of assets. As ISO 19650 – 1 & ISO 19650 – 2 takes us through the journey from the inception of a project through to the eventual operations phase, you will see terminology such a “shall”, which indicates a requirement and “should” which tell us that this is a recommendation.

In short, ISO 19650 is similar to the highway code providing instructions and guidance of how to “travel” on our BIM project timeline from inception to handover and so working more efficiently and effectively.

As a side not, the image below will give you an insight into the timeline and progression to some of the various standards, guidance and industry reports that have been produced since BRE report ‘Coordinating Working Drawings’ published in 1976.

BIM, standards,

  1. Signage / symbology

Imagine driving on a road where there was not a constant way in which signs were presented yet alone agreed units such as miles per hour (mph)/ kilometres per hour (kph) and graphical rules. A common language if you will. Take the example below. On the left is a UK road standardised sign. On the right is a non-standardised road sign that I have created. As you can see the one on the left is very clearly communicated and the other quite ambiguous. If you are from the UK, you will immediately recognise that the sign on the left is telling the user that the maximum speed to travel at is 30 mph, it becomes second nature in understanding the meaning.

Let’s also look at vehicle registration plates. As around the globe, here in the UK, we have a specific set of fields that contain data such as memory tags and age identifiers to recognise a vehicles identification, and so as such we have written software around this known as ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition).

BIM, standards,So, when we put signage into a BIM context, we can think of this as symbology and structured data. Symbols are often overlooked but play an extremely vital role in delivering, communicating and simply finding project information. To control the consistency of data, standards BIM, standards,should be established around document delivery such as level of information need, annotation, units and precision and roles and responsibilities, to name a few.

For container-based collaborative working, we should think about the Common Data Environment (CDE) process, container naming (in a similar manner as a number plate), origin and orientation and federation strategies etc.

Finally, standards need to be applied to structured information consisting of object naming, classification, object verification and property naming etc.

  1. Driving licence / BIM certification

If you think back to how we drive a car, firstly we must understand the basics of how it works, such as starting the engine, the steering wheel turns the wheels. The speedometer tells me how fast I am going, and the fuel gauge tells me how much fuel I have in the tank. As you will agree, this amount of knowledge is not sufficient enough to obtain a driving licence. There will be a certain amount of practical knowledge and testing required that relates to the highway code.

When we discuss BIM, we should think not only about software but also the process of managing information, understanding ISO 19650, the supporting standards and assessing capability of project teams and supply chains. For most of us that are reading this, you will have had at some point software training, whether this was Revit, Civil 3D, ARCHICAD, Excel, Word, to name a few. Software only forms a small part of your BIM knowledge. So it is the information management that truly holds the key to successful BIM delivery not only as individuals but as an organisation also.

In comparison, training and education in BIM information management will not only provide you with a thorough understanding of the BIM process according to ISO 19650. Still, they will demonstrate your level of knowledge also. Obtaining recognised BIM certification at organisational level will aid your company to be compliant, confident and capable of delivering BIM projects successfully to ISO 19650 and is “fit for purpose”.

Whether you are starting out, intermediate, or more advanced in your BIM knowledge, BRE can help you on your jounrney. As the organisation that helped to pioneer BIM, we’re the perfect partner to train you and your team and equip you to access a world of new opportunities. To book your place today on our BIM ISO19650 courses or enquire about business certification and feel confident in delivering projects to the ISO 19650 process we can be contacted on the following emails:

BIM ISO 19650 Training : BREAcademyEducation@bre.co.uk

BIM ISO 19650 Certification  BIM@bregroup.com



Stuart Byford

BIM commercial services delivery lead



Twitter: @bre_group

LinkedIn: BRE


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