A fun packed week

Many of you based in the UK are most likely going to be as “full on” this week as me.

Today Bentley’s Annual Year in Infrastructure event kicks off for 4 days culminating in their awards ceremony on Thursday.

Tonight is also the kick off for Digital Construction Week with British Information Modelling.

Tomorrow I will be representing the BIM Regions London as part of the  UK BIM Alliance at a reception and then heading over to BIM Open Mic.

Wednesday I will be honoured to be presenting two sessions at Digital Construction Week, a BIM Capability workshop and a presentation titled “A CDE or not a CDE that is the question“.  Later that evening there is of course the Digital Construction Awards.

Friday we have our own in house GIS user community event.

So all in all a fun packed week and I look forward to catching up with colleagues, friends and meeting new people.


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Authoring rules for filenames and data is not enough, for a project, you need to extrapolate names as soon as possible to make sure that your name strategy works. I also get fed up when industry says “we don’t know this early”. How did you tender the work then? Guess???

I have seen this far too many times. Not enough thought given to exploring and projecting naming things. We issue references to 1192 etc but these are left then to interpretation of the “rules”. It is much more straightforward to “model” the names of things that are know at the beginning. Reports, minutes, agendas, models, federated models and then actually create placeholders in the system that is going to be hosting these entities. Be that online or local. Why? You can track progress for a start. You can set dates for when these objects should and will be updated. You can actually get people to understand and get to grips with what these names actually mean from the start. Not just hand out a set of rules and expect/assume people will get it write first time. Mapping out as much as you can (which will be more than you think) right back at the beginning. We used to call this a storyboard or cartoon set. The practice has died out, bring it back, it was useful!


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My approach to dealing with subjectivity

This could turn into a bit of a rambling rant, so consider yourself warned. One of the challenges we face with digitisation is subjectivity. As a former colleague once stated “data is brutal”. Being able to take data, turn it into information that is analysed to gain insight which we can then form advice for our clients and teams is THE key process that the digitisation of our industry needs to be focused on. When someone announces your model has issues with 33,000 components, that is brutal data, but add in that your model contains 1.5 million components and you get a more balanced view. That is still objective.

Subjectivity starts to creep in through language. Sometimes hampering or even destroying the ability to create any sort of analytical/computational/automated approach. How do I go about finding these blockers? I look for the words below which have always created challenges and, as my blog title alludes to, the cultural/people aspect can block the process and tools stream. So these are some of the words to watch for:

  • Suitable
  • Relevant
  • As necessary
  • Appropriate

Look through your documentation, your scope, EIR and BEP, even you Standard Methods and Procedures (SMP). See if these key documents contain this sort of language. Really understand where these words have been used and why, how their context can impact objective data creation and collection. With data being firmly on our industries agenda and with more collection and sharing of data, we can and in some cases do, collect as much data as possible to then look for trends, means, norms and ranges. This does allow us to look at what these subjective words mean with regards to data and whether something is indeed measurable. Once something is measurable we can start looking at its value objectively, which for me, is where I want to be in order to be able to leverage data and put it to work.

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Presenting at Digital Construction Week

I feel fortunate that I and many of my peers have been selected to present and share at Digital Construction Week 17-18th October at London Excel. The full programme is now up here.

I will be running two sessions:

A workshop in the BIM Village on BIM Capability on the 17th from 10:45 to 11:30.

A presentation and Q&A in the BIM village on a CDE or not a CDE that is the question from 15:00 to 15:30, also on the 17th.

I look forward to seeing you there.

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Coding – the “must have” industry discipline!

I have to admit, up until 2009 I did not really pay that much attention to coding/programming. I was introduced to computer programming circa 1980 as computers entered the education system. My two best friends were very much into early games and demo programming as well as hacking real world devices with code (turning a joystick into a pressure pad burglar alarm). I always suffered trying to learn spoken languages and as programming was “just another language”, it and I did not see eye to eye.

Fast forward to 1997 and I start experimenting with AutoCAD scripts and lisp routines out of necessity to make my work day easier and whilst I still achieved good results, it does not come naturally to me.

Jump forward again to 2009 and I finally see what it is all about. It was nagging at the back of my mind and I now put it into just about every presentation I do. Using computers/code to do things that humans cannot, as up until now, I had simply been digitising repetitive tasks to save time rather than any other outcome. (not that saving time is a bad thing) but “Time is precious and unless you fill it with something useful or meaningful then you are just marking hours”.

From 2009 onward I firmly believe every team should have a coder or coding ability, be it macro’s, vba, scripting or hard coding languages. Now some of this will still be straightforward automation but it can also unlock the ability to explore, analyse and truly achieve insights that, up until now, have been hidden and locked away within data and the systems that hold it.

Which is why I am so excited about the upcoming in-house #Hackademy and hack nights. I am looking forward to both looking at automation but also looking at challenging the way we think and how we might be able to embed knowledge into code to further increase understanding and that is why I believe coding/programming as essential to our industry.


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Off-Site Manufacture for Construction

Reports are like buses, one gets published and then another one comes along. Hot on the heels of last weeks Estate Strategy the House of Lords released 2nd Report – Off-site manufacture for construction: Building for change. This is a stub from this page. Another one to add to my reading list. I am still working my way through last weeks report so that I can write a post but I thought I would share with you all.

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Government Estate Strategy 2018

This was published over the weekend which means I have not had a chance to read it yet. But when I do I will post my first thoughts here. Anyone who knows me is aware I am not into politics so I will be looking at the impact of People/Culture, Processes and Tools. More to come. If you want to have a read yourself then it can be found here and a higher level link here.

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