Cloud-based Building Information Modelling for Information Interoperation and Collaboration in the Construction Industry

Lead Research Organisation: Glasgow Caledonian University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering & Built Environment


The breakthrough in the adoption of computerised building models is widely believed to require a redistribution of the relationships (and possibly fees) in the design supply chain, as the substantial benefits (estimated between 10%-50% and up to $18/sqft) are predicated on the existence of an initial model, ideally created and developed by the architect. More generally it is believed that architects and other Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the AEC/FM sector are under-achieving due to their failure to adopt even basic IT tools such as spreadsheets and similar applications.Building Information Modelling is a relatively recent technology that aims to capture all relevant information about a building from design through to construction (and even maintenance and demolition in some cases) in a single 3D digital model. The advantages are that a single model can form the basis of the entire lifecycle of a building and thereby integrating the different aspects of a building design and construction. There are now several commercial applications of BIM available but the uptake and the use of this technology is still not as widespread as it could be. Some research groups in the USA and elsewhere have been in the forefront on carrying out research and knowledge transfer projects for propagating the use of this technology to the industry. For example, the Gerogia Tech's Architecture School's AEC Integration lab is advising and implementing projects ranging from preliminary design concept reviews by implemnting automated design checking to real-time dashboard feedback on design performance for parameters that effect energy efficincy and hence the carbon footprint of a building. CIFE at Stanford is the other leading group that is actively engaged in both findamental research and knowledge transfer to the industry. This proposal is a follow up to earlier visits to North America by the Principal Investigator in 2001, 2002 fand 2009 funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering as an Engineering Foresight award (01-02). There are various ways a business can exploit the internet, e.g. managing its supply chain, co-ordinating the interaction between the design and construction teams on sites, project management and so on. Two influential reports in the nineties on the state of productivity in the UK construction sector and ways of improving them (Egan, 1998 and Latham, 1994) outlined the importance of exploiting Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). PI's previous visits gave him insights into the issues around the information interoperability issue and its role in collaborative design and construction. Further developments in the area in the intervening period and the recent emergence of BIM is the main driver for the proposed visit. The main aim of the PI's visits around some leading centres of excellence (primarily Stanford's Centre for Integrated Facilities Engineering) in the USA in this area of research is to gain a state-of-the-art understanding of the field and establish collaborative research links with these centres. One key element of the last visit in 2009 was the development of insights into the role of Cloud Computing (CC) in software uptake in the construction industry. This is the area which the collaboration ended up working on and identified it as the key part of further collaboration. On return from Stanford, the PI has taken on one PhD student who is investigating the development of Cloud based information infrastructure for building regulation aceess and usage by designers, builders and end users. With ever-changing landscape of energy related directives from within the UK and Europe alike, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure that all regulatory provisions are being complied with notwithstanding the issues surrounding the identification of all relevant regulatory documents and the relevant provisions within them. This research will address these issues utilizing CC concepts.

Planned Impact

The project will impact several groups of people involved with the design and construction industries. The researchers in the subject area will gain through dissemination by acquiring a further and more up to date insight into the collaborative design and construction using BIM with case studies from the USA and possibly Hong Kong. The practitioners from the industry will also get an insight into the state-of-the-art technology and its possible usage in their own projects.


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Description Hong Kong University of Science and Tech 
Organisation Hong Kong University of Science and Tech
Country Hong Kong 
Sector Academic/University 
Start Year 2010
Description Stanford University 
Organisation Stanford University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
Start Year 2010