Future BIM Ecosystems


Common Data Environment plays a very important role in the BIM world for The Architectural, Engineering and Construction Industry. However, is it ready for the challenges that come along with the ever-changing market?

Common Data Environment (CDE) plays a very important role in the BIM world for The Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Industry. CDE is defined as an information delivery process of Project Information Model (PIM) being produced and transformed into Asset Information Model (AIM) where Information Model contains Graphical Model, Non-Graphical Data as well as Documentation (BSI, 2013). In practice, CDE is a collaborative environment that can be used by everyone with the guidance given by BS 1192 and PAS 1192-2:2013 to ensure that information between supply chains is coordinated. Kensek et el. (2014) defines those dependencies as BIM Ecosystem rather than CDE. As a result I have decided to do some research and analise challenges connected with those future BIM Ecosystems.

CDE is recently strongly connected with the BIM cloud-based platforms, which utilisation should mostly target BIM Level 3. However Davies (2014) believes that the reality is different. He distinguishes between different kinds of cloud services often used by his clients, mostly being actually a storage place rather than a collaboration platform such as Dropbox. However, he also mentiones Aconex and ProjectWise as a cloud solutions for the AEC that not only ensure storage and archiving but also enable collaboration, communication and data distribution. On the other hand, Kensek et el. (2014) states that there is a lack of formal tools to facilitate the changes in the AEC industry such as technological, operational or even cultural transformations. The “Collaborative Platform BIM Decision Framework” aid was created to facilitate BIM adoption and is the answer to the doubts whether CDE’s should be evaluated, selected and implemented at company or project level. The framework that will support all stakeholders needs to be tailored for different organizations or individual projects, therefore it is important for it to be revised by different stakeholders in order to to meet their own organizational and project requirements, as they will differ depending on the their role. As such, the needs will remain different for those who are creating and collaborating models, and those who are responsible for making decisions (Karen M. Kensek, 2014). 

Developing it further - these are key issues that will have impact for future CDE (Karen M. Kensek, 2014):

  • Challenge 1 – development in areas such as 3D printing or augmented reality that will affect the need for representation capabilities in the CDE. They will potentially have big influence on immersive environments for the virtual design and construction. An example can be a Virtual Singapore project with the 3D Model of Singapore created where real data is implemented to allow for numerous simulation such as e.g. evacuation or disaster planning (3DEXPERIENCE® City - Virtual Singapore: Singapore’s Innovative City , 2016). 
  • Challenge 2 – open source development and BIG data are likely going to affect BIM information management capabilities with the need for innovations in simulation and analysis tools. Following the article of Steve Cooper (Cooper, 2014), the BIG data is not only a significant store of data but also grants constant access to analysis and information. BIM data cannot be mistaken with a BIG data as it contains relatively small amount of information in comparison to the information considered as BIG data. In context of BIM BIG data analytics can be applied for big infrastructure systems such as Smart Cities (Cooper, 2014).
  • Challenge 3 – social computing, cloud technologies as well as crowdsourcing may also influence the BIM Ecosystems. Current initiatives such as for example Crowdsourcing BIM Project to Bring London Landmark Back to Life (TBH, 2015) proves that this may not be a one-time event but can become something more common and, as a result, affect the way how CDE is shaped. This is an unforeseen leap in development that will have its time in Open BIM, universal approach for collaboration based on open standards and workflow, in the future. 

There are already several CDE solutions available on the market that support information flow, collaboration and data sharing between stakeholders. Some of the CDE’s such as well-known in UK Aconex and 4P are in process of constant development in order to follow the changes on the market. However, are they actually ready for the challenges that come along with the ever-changing market? 


Natalia Jurek


3DEXPERIENCE® City - Virtual Singapore: Singapore’s Innovative City. 2016. [Film] Directed by Dassault Systèmes. Singapore: Dassault Systèmes.

BSI, 2013. PAS 1192-2:2013, s.l.: British Standards Institute.

Cooper, S., 2014. conjectblog.co.uk. [Online]
Available at: http://conjectblog.co.uk/2014/08/are-asset-owners-and-the-construction-industry-really-ready-for-big-data/
[Accessed 19 February 2017].

Davies, N., 2014. BIM in the cloud; industry view. s.l.:AEC Magazine.

Karen M. Kensek, D. E. N., 2014. Building Information Modelling. BIM in Current and Future Practice. New Yersey: John Wiley & Sons.

TBH, 2015. thebimhub.com. [Online]
Available at: https://thebimhub.com/2015/09/21/crowdsourcing-bim-project-to-bring-london-landmark/#.WKniXFXyipo
[Accessed 19 February 2017].


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