Monday, March 23, 2015

New Users and the Consolidation of BIM Systems - Part One

Whew! It's good to be back. 

After a somewhat lengthy hiatus of writing the second version of "BIM and Construction Management," I'm glad to be back on top of this blog/stream of consciousness that is writing what's in Brad's brain.

So here's what's new. Aside from joining a global engineering and construction firm at Black and Veatch, we are back in Kansas City (go Royals!) and am back home.

It's spring and on the BIM front , I wanted to share some of the new and forward thinking tenets of where I believe the AEC industry is headed and what we can do to align and improve how we work.

In a recent article from Accenture titled, "Digital Ecosystems" they do a really nice job of capturing where technology trends and analytics is headed in the coming years. I particularly agree with the concept of the "Intelligent Enterprise: Huge data + smarter systems = better business"

Here's the pitch. I believe BIM is now in between the early and late majority stage of the technology adoption curve. We talk about this in the new version of the book, but what does it mean?

Does this mean that BIM is no longer innovative? Not at all.
Am I behind if I haven't adopted BIM? Sure.

I've already adopted BIM in my firm, I'm safe right? Nope.

Here's the thing with the mid to late stage adopter types. They are highly analytical, they look to maximize the value of the shift (aka squeeze every ounce of value out of it) and ask some really good questions as they work in the tool. In essence, they are more patient than early adopters or innovators (generally speaking) and in lieu of "first to market" take a "best to market" approach with new tools.

How will this impact our industry?

1.) I believe we are going to see a consolidation of tool sets that seek to maximize the value out of each. 

2.) In addition to this, we are going to see a renewed vigor and focus on integration of tools between each other and a demand for not only connectivity, but hyper-connectivity. Keep in mind, these are the rational "doers" the folks who get it done and they don't have the patience to wait for systems to connect either. 

3.) Which leads me to my third prediction that we will see a spike in what I'm calling "gap apps." 

These applications will utilize the API's in the existing large scale tools and will be developed with the sole purpose of better connectivity or workflow automation. I don't know how many of these puppies there will be, but I can tell you it will create a very interesting dynamic in our industry.

Personally, I'm stoked about this new kind of user. I think now that we have moved beyond the Hollywood BIM or early "BIM washing," we are really going to start digging in and taking a renewed look at what BIM could mean for design and construction, what the data could mean and how traditional deliverable constructs need to be challenged or disappear entirely.

More to come...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Great Article from Arup on BIM Legislation

In talking with my good friend David Philp, leader of the UK BIM Task Group ( , he of course tends to agree that the UK Government has done far more to further the cause of BIM as a nation wide effort than the US. 

Frankly, I couldn't agree more. 

Especially in regard to the approach, the collaborative nature of the engagement and ultimately the right amount of courage from leadership (in government no less!) to not only encourage teams to use BIM, but to ensure it's continued development and innovation cycles and highlight those case studies publicly.

Perhaps we can learn from our peers across "the pond," who may have lagged in the initial implementation of BIM, but have now flown right past the US as a nation wide effort to create efficiency, improve collaboration and deliver a more future-proof information set to construction consumers for life cycle use.

Link to the Article Here

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Creating the Next Big Thing

We've all had that aha moment.

The one where we look at something that's missing in a work flow, tool or technology and say to ourselves, "Wouldn't it be great if...?"

I attended a couple of general high tech conferences recently (not necessarily related to AEC) and was really excited to see where technology as a whole is headed. Though some of these tools may or may not find their way into the AEC industry, it became very clear to me that the need to consistently explore, vet and deploy technologies that may have value is becoming increasingly important for our respective professions.

In stark contrast, (mostly due to the proximity in timing of the events) I attended a tech forward conference for the AEC industry...and wow what a difference. Most of the "innovative" solutions out there were software tools that have existed in our fields for quite some time with new features or bells and whistles. While this is valuable for tech vendors to consistently improve their tools, there wasn't much in the way of WOW. This isn't a dig on vendors and I'm usually easily impressed... but the huge difference between the tech conference and this event was shocking. So my question is this:

"How can we create an atmosphere of wow in the AEC community that consistently rewards innovators and young companies who are pushing the boundaries in our profession?"

This is a hard question to answer I'm learning.

The significant difference between the technology sector as a whole and the AEC sector is that the general tech sector has a small army of early adopters just waiting to try the next big thing. *Think line three blocks long for the new iPad or xbox. While in the B2B world (AEC), we are usually slow to test and pilot and even slower to adopt tools and technologies that may significantly impact our value proposition.


I think there are a few good examples of great companies that are becoming early adopters of promising technologies. As well as some bright spots of innovative start up companies beginning to push the boundaries or redefine those boundaries. Though I don't believe it is nearly enough.

We need to start thinking like a community aligned towards a similar purpose of improvement and value. Not individual companies that latch on to a new tech, up sell it to the market through PR campaigns and then get on to the next thing without truly investing in that tool or technology and going deep to explore its value.

Ultimately, we need to understand that the danger in remaining a long sales cycle or shallow cycle (use and lose) industry that is slow to adapt and change is that it will not draw that next generation of start ups brainstorming in their garages... into the design, construction and operations markets. Rather they will focus on other markets with lower barriers to entry.

So how do we create this atmosphere of wow and early adoption? Not sure I have the best answer yet, but I do know some of it begins with starting to understand that being sold to by the "little company that could" is ok and I encourage you to have a dialog with this community. You may learn something or you just may believe its the next big thing.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Reality capture & Why does laser scanning matter?

Haven't posted for a while, but wanted to capture my thoughts on a recent project we did where we were looking to accurately "capture" information about an existing lobby space. The project was a tenant improvement project in a four story building lobby, where the goals of the effort were to accurately gather data about what actually existed in the space, in lieu of relying on traditional as-built reference documentation, which is often outdated or rarely updated. The other effort we were looking to eliminate was the amount of effort we typically would put into in-field verification efforts. As a team, we discussed the options and laser scanning seemed to be the most viable, both from the perspective of speed to capture and the high degree of accuracy as a product.

Laser scanning an occupied facility had its own challenges, but what came out of it as a result was pretty remarkable. The last time I had looked at laser scanning technology was over two years ago and I was absolutely blown away by how far the tools and software had come since then. In less than three hours we had completed the hi-res laser scan of the lobby space. Within the laser scanning software, (this laser scanner was a FARO scanner) we were able to isolate and assign faces and model elements to the point cloud data. In turn, the composite of all of the faces and geometry showed deviation from the original plans in many significant areas. One of them being the mullion spacing at the curtain wall which would have proved costly in the field. Another aspect of this effort that I was impressed with was the openness from this team to use the laser scan data. In my experience on other teams without laser scanning, each entity did what they felt needed to be done to capture any as-built conditions and then began designing from that.

With laser scanning the equation was quite the opposite and we have seen a number of project stakeholders step up and request the laser scan files and models. Some of these were a bit of light bulb moments for me as the mechanical engineer wanted to see where supply and diffuser vents were currently located, the electrical engineer wished to see the height of the custom lighting that was suspended from the four story atrium to better inform their lighting design and the subcontractor responsible for the glass guardrail installation performed his takeoff directly from the laser scanning software environment. Couldn't find a good link to the FARO viewer, but here is Leica's ( )

Lastly, when we presented the scan to the owner the tool had layered on top of the point cloud file hi-res photos that reminded me very much of what it was like to navigate in BIM. One of the main differences was the ability to measure, in the software. As we were navigating we were able to measure distances with a high degree of accuracy as essentially we were just measuring from one point to another.

Needless to say, it was great getting to be a part of this effort and fascinating to see how far this technology has come in such a small amount of time. I'm looking forward to seeing what the next two years holds in this space.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Really Proud to Coach this Team! NSAD First Place!

Great news and a great effort by an integrated team. Proud to have coached this Virtual Design and Construction Team!

News Story on Yahoo! Here

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Augmented Intelligence

How do we connect A to B?

Or does A even connect to B? Or more importantly, how can we use A to make a better decision about B?

Recently, I have become absolutely fascinated with the potential around cloud based collaboration backed with massive amounts of meaningful and sort able data provided in collaboration with computers. It's interesting to see the dialog shift away from Man vs. Machine to >> Man and Machine vs. Big Issues. Isn't this really what the promise of technology is? The ability to team the calculative (CPU) with the cognitive (human mind) to make better informed decisions that can have a huge impact.

So what does it all mean? Of course, the rise of Big Data has begun....or at least now we are focusing on how to better use the millions of petabytes each year that we generate to create value. Why this trend is relevant, is that for the first time in our history we are now able to capture, collect and sort huge amounts of data relatively inexpensively. So what do we do with this "stuff"?

To be fair, I'm not sure (how's that for honesty?)... but this trend has some fascinating possibilities. Particularly, in the areas of system to process mapping. While, this may seem to be arguably the "least sexy" of the big data trends, allow me to indulge this opinion further.

In an ever increasing manner, there is an interesting counter culture to a movement away from big software products to solve their smaller issues or repetitive pain points. This is hopefully evident in the rise of the quantity of apps that exist now versus 5 years ago. And though there are a rising number of conversations on data storage and cloud based apps. Do apps work? Is there a place for them within the AECO industry? Largely, I think the answer is yes.

Apps; unlike traditional out of the box software that ride on "fat clients" mostly ride on "thin clients". Thin clients are apps that use the processing power of other servers, and in many cases these servers are cloud based. This virtually unlimited processing power (though you pay for it through a service like Amazon web services) opens up a number of possibilities to process and connect large amounts of data about what we do and the decisions we make and their results. Additionally, we can now display, filter and sort this information in meaningful ways to better inform our processes.

One of the projects, we are working on now is actually investigating, who uses what information throughout a project's life cycle. This study will begin in design and follows all the way to operations and maintenance. What will be interesting about tracking the access to this information through various stakeholders, will be to challenge our constructs around information exchange and seeing if "A" does in fact connect to "B" or if it actually connects to "Q" (and thus, that we have no idea what we're talking about). Either way we are using Big Data around file accessibility to find if we are making the right planning decisions... more importantly and probably more fun is the surprises we envision coming from this exercise. I look forward to sharing the app after this project.

I've attached a great video from Sean Gourley on Augmented Intelligence. Check out the part where he uses his software Quid to make information 3D. Interesting stuff as we usually go the other way around, so to speak in BIM and model content creation.