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Canadian BIM promotion targets collaboration

Richard Gilbert
Canadian BIM promotion targets collaboration

buildingSMART Canada is providing support and sharing best practices with Canadian companies to help them collaborate with their international counterparts in the development of open Building Information Modeling (BIM) data standards.

"The Institute for BIM in Canada (IBC) and subsequently the buildingSmart Canada chapter were formed to help the Canadian industry move forward with all these advancements in standards and BIM implementation," said Susan Keenliside, International User Group Representative with buildingSmart Canada. "The IBC and buildingSmart Canada are here to promote these methods or standards to help the Canadian industry, which is going to be very key in the near future just to remain competitive within the global marketplace."

Keenliside made this comment  at one-day symposium hosted by the IBC and  buildingSmart Canada in Toronto on Oct. 30., which examined the advantages of using BIM in the Canadian and international context.

BIM involves the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places. It uses files, which can be exchanged or networked to support decision-making.

For this reason, BIM software is used to design, construct, operate and maintain physical infrastructures.

The theme of the IBC and buildingSMART Canada symposium was BIM Worldwide: Solutions for All Project Sizes – Success for Lifecycle Management.

According to Keenliside, the major thread that came out of the symposium is the awareness that there is a lot of activity taking place at the international level and Canada is at risk of falling behind.

"Countries abroad are really making headway, whether on the standards side or simply on implementation within their own industries," she said. "From the Canadian side we have a lot of good examples of where to go from here. We just need to act, and we need to act in a  unified way as much as possible, which is why the Institute for BIM in Canada was formed."

One of the most important topics discussed by delegates at the symposium was open standards for BIM. These are viewed as the vehicle to achieve data interoperability and the integration between various file formats, software platforms and countries.

This means that information needs be entered into electronic systems and then made instantaneously available to all stakeholders through information technology networks.

Keenliside said culture is the biggest barrier to the implementation of open BIM standards in Canada and the United States, when compared to countries like Norway, the UK and Korea.

"We are not in a cultural mind frame to be open to what technology and open standards can do for us as a market and an industry," she said. "We keep trying to find what is wrong and what shouldn’t happen or everything that can go wrong, as opposed to focusing on everything that can go right."

For example, Keenliside said Canada has an advantage in terms of the companies that are already associated or a part of multi-national companies.

However, the opposite side of this is the majority of the companies in Canada are small and medium sized enterprises

"This is not a barrier or challenge, it is an opportunity," said Keenliside. Small and medium sized enterprises have a lot to gain from BIM and open standards in terms of how they deliver projects in a cost-effective way, and how they are able to interact with the clients to achieve their requirements."

buildingSmart Canada was established by the IBC to develop and maintain open BIM standards for the Canadian market. Currently, buildingSmart Canada is forming an education work group that will work to develop BIM at several different levels.

"You can have BIM in education at the academic level, whether it is through specific courses or through full programs," said Keenliside. "It could be training from a one-hour session to a multi-day session through local associations. It could be on-demand training online. It also relates to the question of certification."

The IBC and buildingSmart Canada share the common goal of supporting the implementation of BIM, while facilitating improvements in project delivery and lifecycle management of the built environment, including infrastructure.

The constituent organizations of the IBC are: the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies, the Canadian Construction Association, the Construction Specifications Canada and The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

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