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Government Inquiry Recommends a National Approach for BIM


bimThe Inquiry

  • The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities (“Committee”) tabled the “Smart ICT Report on the inquiry into the role of smart ICT in the design and planning of infrastructure” in March 2016.
  • The inquiry was formed after a 2014 inquiry by the ‘House Infrastructure and Communications Committee’ into planning and procurement were made aware of a range of new developments in the application of smart Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to infrastructure.
  • It was evident that the construction industry was in the process of implementing new ways of designing, planning, building and managing infrastructure and the Committee wanted to explore this further.

New Technologies

  • The Committee recognised the possibilities inherent in new technologies and systems and the fact that these technologies had the capacity to transform the design and construction management of infrastructure and assets, the management of new and existing assets and the operation of transport, communications, energy and utility systems.
  • It was recognised that the collection and the management of data is the key to the development of smart infrastructure but the Committee also enquired into the potential for promoting of smart ICT and in particular the use of building information modelling (BIM).

Terms of Reference

The terms of reference required the Committee to inquire into and report on:

  1. identifying innovative technology for the mapping, modelling, design and operation of infrastructure;
  2. identifying the new capabilities smart ICT will provide;
  3. examining the productivity benefits for smart ICT;
  4. harmonising data formats and creating nationally concise arrangements for data storage and access;
  5. identifying international best practice and the use of smart ICT in the design and planning of infrastructure.
  6. considering the use of smart ICT in related fields, such as disaster planning and remediation; and
  7. considering means, including legislative and administrative action, by which government promote this technology to promote economic productivity.

The Submissions

  • Along with information gathered at public hearings, the Committee also received round 29 written submissions from many of the key players in the smart ICT industry and also from government and state departments. Submissions provided information and opinions on new technology such as BIM, geospatial technology, Internet of Things, machine learning and mobile laser scanning.
  • The Committee reached a number of conclusions and made a number of recommendations including the recognition that there was a need for the government to engage in some level with smart ICT in infrastructure design and planning however, it was still to be determined to what extent and to what form.

The UK Model

  • It became apparent through the submissions that there is an element of the construction industry and some state governments calling for the adoption of the UK model of infrastructure procurement which mandates the use of BIM. The use of the UK model was regarded as the quickest and most efficient way of advancing the adoption of ICT producing smart infrastructure in Australia.

Cautions

  • There was some caution urged by a number of parties calling for a graduated approach rather than a mandatory approach as introduced in the UK. It was agreed however, in a majority of submissions, that greater coordination was needed in and between levels of government and that this coordination must operate from a national level.

Recommendations

The Committee made recommendations on the use of smart ICT which included:

  1. the Australian Government lead the formation of a suitable qualified resource smart infrastructure task force led by Infrastructure Australia based on the model of the UK BIM task group;
  2. as part of its infrastructure procurement processes, the Australian Government require BIM to LOD500 on all major infrastructure projects exceeding $50 million, receiving Australian government funding;
  3. the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development adopt the practice of examining whether the use of smart ICT as an option optimising the operation maintenance of existing built infrastructure can provide a more cost effective solution than a physical replacement or upgrade;
  4. the Australian Government through COAG works with state and territory governments to develop a national approach to the application of smart ICT; and
  5. the Australian Government invite Infrastructure Australia to consider the use of smart ICT in infrastructure as a means to identify the savings that can be made in the short term.
  • The Committee also acknowledged a need to support the industry implementation of smart ITC through the development of training in the requisite skills.

Way of the Future for Construction Industry

  • Most people in the construction industry would recognise that smart ICT is the way of the future and its implementation will be unavoidable in order to maintain relevancy and profitability when competing in a global market. This is especially relevant when considering that many major competitors such as the UK, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong have already taken large steps towards implementation of smart ICT in the construction and infrastructure industry.

Benefits of Smart ICT Protocols

  • While many participants in the construction industry in Australia are highly proficient in 3D modelling and the use of BIM in their own spheres, there is an apparent lack of application in the use of BIM and integrated project delivery, mainly because of the lack of clear direction or framework around which all parties can focus. Nationally mandated smart ITC protocols in government infrastructure projects would arguably level the playing field as all parties would have a similar cost basis for implementation of smart ICT.
  • With the governments newfound emphasis on innovation and smart technology it would be hoped that there will be prompt action to see a unified approach to smart ITC in order for Australia to maintain a competitive edge in the construction and infrastructure industry.

To review the full report go to: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/ITC/Smart_ICT/Report

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