We will form an NGO, BIW Foundations, which will identify and structure the various data needed by the various stakeholders.
The BIW will license from Activeplan its Product Library for the housing of manufacturer’s Product Data Sheets. The Community will, therefore, become the industry's most comprehensive, centralised repository for manufacturer’s information. Community members will be given free API access.
Likewise the BIW will supply the Community with the Templater, which creates the categorisation of the products, so they can be connected to the other data libraries.
Although the members will be volunteers, the management team and those working to interpret and publish the data must be funded. The technology platform that facilities the activities must be paid for.
The BIW will provide that funding in return for an exclusive agreement to reuse the raw data. Active members will have free access to the data as individuals for non-commercial use, but if they use it at a company level, there would be a license fee. Where a member is an active contributor, the company could have a credit and therefore encourage their employees to contribute more.
Activeplan’s Product Library will be used as the platform to store manufacturer’s data sheets. The BIW will license it to the Community, where it is simply used as a free service for members to store data sheets for the products they identify. This helps “curate” a relevant subset of all the products that are available. The BIW also provides the Community with the Templater for free, which creates the categorisation of the Products, so they can be connected to the other data libraries.
The BIW will gather information about which product types, and which products, are viewed. This product type (provided by Templater) is an important innovation because currently there is no universal practice of relating manufactured products to types.
The Templater can include standard task lists for installation, inspection or maintenance. These can be applied to asset types, using the Templater and to the Product Library.
The standard product data will be “fixed” and therefore doesn’t need to be added to the BIM objects, providing there is a dynamic connection to the manufacturers data for that specific product. In today’s connected world, it is unnecessary for each firm, and each project, to collect and retain copies of a manufacturer’s product datasheet. This is both wasteful and unmanageable.
Ideally the manufacturer should generate data sheets from databases, using standardised data templates, that make them machine-readable. These initiatives have started but that is a long journey. To remove what has proven to be a barrier in our progress, for now, this can be satisfied by a pdf datasheet of each specific product, with some key properties attached to that file, in a machine-readable form, allowing it to be searched and connectable.
Manufacturers will say that their data sheets can be downloaded from their websites but they are sometimes difficult to find and downloading is a manual process.
Manufacturers will discontinue products, making the data sheets difficult to find, so a permanent library of manufacturers products in a pdf format should be created.
These product datasheets need to be stored in a “Warehouse”
The Community can provide the hosting for free and require the manufacturers to provide a published data sheet for each of the products that are identified by its members.
Each piece of data must be seen through the prism of the overwhelming number of Standards and guidance notes that need to be interpreted and applied to it before it is utilisable. However, different people will interpret that guidance in different ways, arriving at different conclusions. So, it can be utilised, but perhaps incorrectly. The information required for one purpose is often quite different to that required for a different purpose. The Building Information Warehouse can include considerations of “context”, structuring datasets so the person looking for information on embodied carbon, sees different information from someone needing to calculate operational carbon, building safety risks or asset management. This prevents information overload. It can also include simple decision-trees that include rules those designing a solution should consider.
The Building Information Warehouse will license from Activeplan its platform, which adds structure to things that others are already authoring, making it simple to retrieve and update. A data Ecosystem, which is already in process, will be commissioned that allows information to be created and maintained in different databases, by different people, using different applications.
This Ecosystem will include objects that are “things” – buildings, spaces, systems, asset types, assets, products and tasks – and “things” about “things” – fire rating, carbon, warranties, certificates, data sheets, installation records and photos. From a technical perspective, the Ecosystem is application agnostic, focusing on the data, not the application that is creating/using it.
Using a common database
The Building Information Warehouse will provide the detailed asset information from a common database that is seamlessly connected to the many different applications that different stakeholders use. This means that the key data is never translated, is always standardised and therefore machine-readable, enabling automation, significant productivity improvements and reduced risks. more
A standard specification of requirements will be agreed with insurers, the Bim4housing community and surveyors. The data will be refined in an application to ensure quality and auditability. It will be coordinated structured data.
We call this SmartData.
- Is standardised
- Has structure
- Is machine-readable
- Is inter-operable
- Is application-agnostic
- Knows what questions it answers
- Understands context
- Enables Grouping to satisfy functions
- Enables Simulation to test if risks are mitigated
This SmartData can then be used to create SmartLibraries. more
When looking at an asset, SmartData will help answer:
- Was it specified correctly?
- Designed correctly?
- Procured correctly?
- Installed correctly?
- Commissioned correctly?
- Maintained correctly?
It should be stressed, projects such as Lexicon and CIH have already delivered much of the research on what and how things should be done, but have failed to deliver the solution. Much of the ecosystem has already been established by Activeplan, though this needs further development as well as implementation.
It is likely that much of the service offering of the Building Information Warehouse would be accomplished by third-party, discrete specialist businesses and individuals. The BIW would be acting as a service aggregator, rather than a direct supplier. Likewise, the BIW would hold a portfolio of specialists and so act as a conduit for the delivery of expertise. There is the possibility that these specialist, individuals and companies, could be verified or certified as having reached a certain level of competency/expertise in their respective fields.
NB. The danger of over specialisation must not be overlooked. The inspector of fire doors will have little expertise in fire dampers, for example. The inspector of compartmentation will not have knowledge of fire doors, as an individual component of a compartmentation unit. The cross-over between responsibilities is not always matched by the cross-over of required competence. This would likely fall under training.