Our governments are continuously building things. Whether it’s a new school for a city or township, a new water treatment facility, a new highway or a military base, all levels of government—municipal, state, and federal—are tasked with building structures to effectively deliver constituent services. It’s a monumental task, especially when we are seeing explosive population growth in urban areas.
These numerous and disparate construction projects differ greatly in their purpose and complexity. However, all of them, without exception, will experience some form of the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) project lifecycle as they advance from conception to completion and operation.
Throughout this process, a project will require cooperation and collaboration from numerous stakeholders—individuals, organizations and agencies. Some infrastructure projects, in fact, may have more than a hundred entities working together to move the project forward. These individuals could be responsible for design, construction or even solicitation of public approvals. And each of them needs access to the project data relevant to their scope of work if the project is to be executed successfully.
This is where many problems have arisen in the past.
Historically, efforts to connect project data at every stage of the AEC project lifecycle have proven to be very difficult or costly. The result is that every time one stage of a project is completed, the data and models from that stage need to be passed on or, “handed off,” to another group of stakeholders, likely utilizing different applications each time. This cycle of uploading, downloading, importing and exporting of BIM and other project data between stakeholders adds significant time, effort, and cost to the project. But that’s not the worst part.
If you’ve ever created a document and then emailed it to your colleagues for review, you know how much of a mess that can become. Everyone edits a different copy of the same document. Multiple versions start flying around, and it becomes difficult to coordinate the changes. There’s a real risk, in fact, that the original intent of the document may be lost in the shuffle.
Now imagine this wasn’t just a document to be shared—rather, an intelligent digital model containing all of the requisite information to construct a building, highway or another public works project. That is exactly the type of reality many government entities and organizations are facing when navigating the AEC project lifecycle for a public works program.
What’s the alternative?
Creating a single, integrated view of the project
The easiest and simplest solution to these problems is to utilize a single, integrated platform across the entire AEC project lifecycle. And that’s exactly what today’s leading
AEC software providers, such as Autodesk, are looking to deliver.
By eliminating the disparate data storage applications commonly found in use across AEC projects and replacing them with a single, cloud-hosted platform that is purpose-built to understand and manage project data, we can effectively break the cycle of upload, download, import and export that’s slowing down the industry and creating quality control issues from a lack of data governance. And that’s just the beginning. An integrated platform has the potential to deliver many other important capabilities to government stakeholders as they collaborate on public works projects. Examples include:
Security and scalability – A cloud-hosted platform provides a high degree of data security—typically far more than an on-premise solution. Compliance protocols such as SOC 2 ensure proper management of data and privacy protection. Cloud hosting also supports projects of virtually any size—with nearly unlimited numbers of participants, files, and file sizes—at a lower cost than local storage.
Collaboration and controlled sharing – An integrated AEC platform enables users to work together seamlessly on their designs and models from virtually anywhere in the world. It offers granular permissions controls to enable tightly-controlled access. And it manages document versioning automatically.
Visualization – Unlike a network drive or cloud storage, an integrated BIM platform allows for easy viewing of model data on virtually any device. In this way, designs may be readily shared with stakeholders, requiring no specialized software expertise for participation. While viewing 2D and 3D design data, markups and issues can be created and assigned with real-time notifications to provide feedback and ensure accountability.
Constructability reviews – When changes are made or suggested to a project, they tend to create coordination issues requiring resolution. An integrated platform makes it quick and easy to identify clashes or constructability problems that may arise from such changes. This helps to ensure that such issues don’t fall through the cracks, only to surface during construction and lead to delays or cost overruns.
Compliance and reporting – Are checklists being utilized to monitor the work being performed? Are things getting done as intended and safety protocols being followed? Who is accessing things, making changes and completing tasks? Have all required inspections been completed? These are examples of the kinds of activities and reporting to be expected from a platform that comprises all aspects of the AEC lifecycle.
Government agencies and organizations build a lot of things—important things that provide vital and essential services to their constituents. And they’re doing all of that building with taxpayer dollars. This means that we all stand to gain when government construction projects—highways, schools, military bases, and public works projects—are completed on time and on budget.
A disconnected set of software applications doesn’t help government agencies do that. The numbers don’t lie: integrated, cloud-based BIM solutions can cut project lifecycle costs by as much as 15 percent and reduce construction time by as much as 30 percent! An intelligent, connected, cloud-hosted platform that is built to support the AEC project lifecycle is the way forward.