I’m a fan of both the original books and the movies of the Lord of the Rings, so I was excited when I could call my friends recently and say "I just drove through Hobbiton."
I passed through while I was racing from one client meeting to the next across the north island in New Zealand through spectacular scenery. Along with white wine, hospitality and innovation, scenery is one of the things New Zealand does exceptionally well.
So it’s no surprise that New Zealand is leading the pack regionally when it comes to the adoption of BIM (Building Information Modelling) within their construction sector. Both the US and the UK have made significant progress in advancing their knowledge and use of BIM with modelling and process standards, of which the New Zealanders have ‘adopted and adapted’ to suit local context. And yes, there are other authorities who have made progress in developing BIM within their local industry – such as Singapore and Hong Kong with local guidance documents and requirements. Even Australia has managed to put together guidance at a country level, via ACIF and APCC, to supplement the plethora of documents available by competing BIM wizards.
However, and this is where the New Zealand MBIE [Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment] is different, is that they have done what they do exceedingly well. When they decide to make a change in New Zealand, they go ahead and make a step change. Within 12 months of issuing intent, guidelines were issued and 12 months on again pilot training programs are being launched across the country. This all coincides with major public clients requesting some form of BIM on significant portfolios or large projects to carry through the practice of BIM in both the vertical and linear forms.
I suppose I’m rather jealous living in Australia and working a lot in New Zealand as I see the difference in how both countries have run with BIM. Australia has been developing, implementing and delivering BIM for many more years but does not have the centralised point of influence or authority to lead consistency in delivery standards and other such elements. Yes, New Zealand has a far more straightforward structure in government, but neither Australia nor New Zealand have giant populations; they might both be counted as large cities from a global perspective.
So following on the Lord of the Rings theme, is there ‘one standard to rule them all and in the darkness bind them?’ In the dull world of international standards, the ISO has a networked system of committees and mirror committees who recycle, reform or create standards across the globe. Often these standards are based on the common sense adoption of an existing regional standard as is the case for ISO19650 [Information management using building information modelling] standard, which is closely related to the UK BS1192 suite of BIM standards as stated.
Dull as it may be, and as many iterations as there are, these standards will ultimately be embraced and endorsed by industry as a whole because they are there. What many don’t realise is that ISO standards are not all mandatory but instead are requested by clients as a way of ensuring that their supply chain meets an ‘at least this quality’ level of delivery.
In New Zealand people, along with so many others in the BIM fraternity, are aware that the ISO standard will most likely be the ‘one standard to rule them all’ and have jumped straight to the mountain to realise BIM as a delivery requirement. In many ways New Zealand is the Bilbo Baggins in the story of implementing BIM across the region. One of the more modest markets taking the most significant steps.