Digital Built Britain 3 – Australia Still 0? No New Funding for Infrastructure and Smart Cities

Now that Level 2 BIM is mandatory for all UK public sector projects from April 2016, the UK is looking to press on with Level 3 BIM to support a fully integrated and collaborative process that plans to save building owners billions of pounds each year. Previously the responsibility of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the BIM Strategic Plan will now be led by Treasury – the clearest sign that the UK is planning to own digital construction globally.  In contrast, the Australian Federal Budget released in early May, provides for strong financial investment of $50 billion for infrastructure projects through to 2019-20. However, it lacks any allocation for new projects or innovative smart city infrastructure planning on the horizon.

UK Continues to Fund Innovative Construction:

A week after announcing funding for Level 3 BIM in the budget policy papers, the UK Government also published its Government Construction Strategy GCS16-20 to deliver £1.7 billion in efficiency savings over the current parliamentary term. Increasing the use of digital technology including embedding Level 2 BIM is a key objective to drive innovation and reduce waste for the UK Government – the single largest construction client in the UK. The strategy is supported by the establishment of 20,000 apprenticeships across Government procurement. This policy is in recognition of a skills gap in the UK construction industry which if not addressed, is said to contribute to inflation and reduce productivity in the future. The Public Procurement Policy Note specifically requires the support of skills development and commitment to apprenticeships for any contracts of more than 12 months duration and worth more than £10million.

Running alongside the UK Government announcements supporting Digital Built Britain, is a recent call from the BIM Task Group for industry support to develop a standardised product sharing process and dictionary to support the industry wholesale.

Working in conjunction with CPA, BIM4M2, CIBSE and NBS, the focus for product data sharing is initially UK based but the BIM Task Group acknowledges the opportunities it will present internationally and the intention is that it will be mapped to Industry Foundation Classes and internationally agreed terms. The proposed process and dictionary were scheduled to be available from 30###sup/sup### April via the Construction Products Association (CPA) website.

So How Does Australia Really Compare?

Setting the missed budget opportunities aside, the Australian Government has at least signalled its interest in digital construction releasing the Smart ICT report in March. The 176 page document is an “inquiry” into the role of information and communication technologies (ICT) on design and planning of infrastructure in Australia. It demonstrates at the very least that Australia needs to establish a collaborative approach to ICT across federal and state Governments and industry organisations to deal with digital data and its opportunities for lean construction. The report has been prepared in consultation with a large number of local, state and federal Government stakeholders alongside industry associations and private sector interests in construction, engineering and technology.

Coming to the conversation a little late and lacking any teeth in relation to any mandatory recommendations, the Smart ICT report does focus keenly on…


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