Integration of Geospatial and Built Environment - National Data Policy

Plume, Jim, Simpson, Richard, Owen, Robert L., & Hobson, Alan (2015) Integration of Geospatial and Built Environment - National Data Policy. buildingSMART Australasia & Spatial Industries Business Association.

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Digital technology offers enormous benefits (economic, quality of design and efficiency in use) if adopted to implement integrated ways of representing the physical world in a digital form. When applied across the full extent of the built and natural world, it is referred to as the Digital Built Environment (DBE) and encompasses a wide range of approaches and technology initiatives, all aimed at the same end goal: the development of a virtual world that sufficiently mirrors the real world to form the basis for the smart cities of the present and future, enable efficient infrastructure design and programmed maintenance, and create a new foundation for economic growth and social well-being through evidence-based analysis.

The creation of a National Data Policy for the DBE will facilitate the creation of additional high technology industries in Australia; provide Governments, industries and citizens with greater knowledge of the environments they occupy and plan; and offer citizen-driven innovations for the future.

Australia has slipped behind other nations in the adoption and execution of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and the principal concern is that the gap is widening. Data driven innovation added $67 billion to the Australian economy in 20131. Strong open data policy equates to $16 billion in new value2. Australian Government initiatives such as the Digital Earth inspired “National Map” offer a platform and pathway to embrace the concept of a “BIM Globe”, while also leveraging unprecedented growth in open source / open data collaboration. Australia must address the challenges by learning from international experiences—most notably the UK and NZ—and mandate the use of BIM across Government, extending the Framework for Spatial Data Foundation to include the Built Environment as a theme and engaging collaboration through a “BIM globe” metaphor.

This proposed DBE strategy will modernise the Australian urban planning and the construction industry. It will change the way we develop our cities by fundamentally altering the dynamics and behaviours of the supply chains and unlocking new and more efficient ways of collaborating at all stages of the project life-cycle.

There are currently two major modelling approaches that contribute to the challenge of delivering the DBE. Though these collectively encompass many (often competing) approaches or proprietary software systems, all can be categorised as either: a spatial modelling approach, where the focus is generally on representing the elements that make up the world within their geographic context; and a construction modelling approach, where the focus is on models that support the life cycle management of the built environment.

These two approaches have tended to evolve independently, addressing two broad industry sectors: the one concerned with understanding and managing global and regional aspects of the world that we inhabit, including disciplines concerned with climate, earth sciences, land ownership, urban and regional planning and infrastructure management; the other is concerned with planning, design, construction and operation of built facilities and includes architectural and engineering design, product manufacturing, construction, facility management and related disciplines (a process/technology commonly known as Building Information Modelling, BIM).

The spatial industries have a strong voice in the development of public policy in Australia, while the construction sector, which in 2014 accounted for around 8.5% of Australia’s GDP3, has no single voice and because of its diversity, is struggling to adapt to and take advantage of the opportunity presented by these digital technologies. The experience in the UK over the past few years has demonstrated that government leadership is very effective in stimulating industry adoption of digital technologies by, on the one hand, mandating the use of BIM on public procurement projects while at the same time, providing comparatively modest funding to address the common issues that confront the industry in adopting that way of working across the supply chain. The reported result has been savings of £840m in construction costs in 2013/14 according to UK Cabinet Office figures4.

There is worldwide recognition of the value of bringing these two modelling technologies together. Australia has the expertise to exercise leadership in this work, but it requires a commitment by government to recognise the importance of BIM as a companion methodology to the spatial technologies so that these two disciplinary domains can cooperate in the development of data policies and information exchange standards to smooth out common workflows.

buildingSMART Australasia, SIBA and their academic partners have initiated this dialogue in Australia and wish to work collaboratively, with government support and leadership, to explore the opportunities open to us as we develop an Australasian Digital Built Environment. As part of that programme, we must develop and implement a strategy to accelerate the adoption of BIM processes across the Australian construction sector while at the same time, developing an integrated approach in concert with the spatial sector that will position Australia at the forefront of international best practice in this area. Australia and New Zealand cannot afford to be on the back foot as we face the challenges of rapid urbanisation and change in the global environment. Although we can identify some exemplary initiatives in this area, particularly in New Zealand in response to the need for more resilient urban development in the face of earthquake threats, there is still much that needs to be done. We are well situated in the Asian region to take a lead in this challenge, but we are at imminent risk of losing the initiative if we do not take action now.

Strategic collaboration between Governments, Industry and Academia will create new jobs and wealth, with the potential, for example, to save around 20% on the delivery costs of new built assets, based on recent UK estimates.

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ID Code: 87944
Item Type: Report
Refereed: No
Keywords: Geospatial, Built Environment, National Data Policy
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Civil Engineering & Built Environment
Current > Institutes > Institute for Future Environments
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 buildingSMART Australasia & Spatial Industries Business Association
Deposited On: 01 Oct 2015 01:40
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2015 00:35

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