Building Information Modeling in Dubai Municipality
The recent implementation of the Building Information Modeling (BIM) by the Dubai Municipality signifies a critical shift towards the improvement of construction practices across the region. BIM is currently associated with improvements in performance across the industry, including important enhancements of risk management practices. The following paper aims at researching the current state of BIM implementation in Dubai Municipality, identifying the most significant enablers of implementation pertinent to risk management, and locating the possible inhibitors of the process, with a list of suggestions intended to address the located inhibitors and thus maximizing the efficiency of risk management practices.
The goal of the project is to outline the use of Building Information Modeling in the construction industry and to identify the benefits expected in the case of Dubai Municipality. Several objectives can be isolated in regard to the identified goal.
Explore the available literature in order to locate the evidence of successful implementation of BIM in the field of risk management.
Determine the applicability of the identified information to the case of the Dubai Municipality
Produce compelling evidence of the expected advantages of BIM for construction industry in Dubai
Identify the possible barriers to implementation of BIM and reaching its full potential.
The main goals stated by the authorities as reasons for the adoption of BIM are the reduction of costs related to the construction projects and the compliance with the strict environmental laws and regulations through reduction of the carbon imprint. However, the identified goals are to be considered as priorities since successful BIM implementation shows capacity for a range of related advantages, including the overall efficiency and safety. The latter option needs to be considered separately for two reasons. First, the construction industry shows the tremendous susceptibility to a diverse range of risks that include technical, construction, physical, organizational, financial, and socio-political, among others. Such diversity not only undermines the performance of the stakeholders but also compromises the well-being of the involved parties, which demands a definitive resolution. Second, the current rate of development in Dubai, as well as in the UAE on the whole, puts additional pressure on the construction industry in order to satisfy the growing expectations. Naturally, such dynamics increase the likelihood of undesirable outcomes and the emergence of risks. Since BIM is associated with an increase in safety, it is reasonable to expect the improvements both directly resulting from the update of the mandate and due to the broadened opportunities offered in the field of risk management. However, the degree to which the said benefits are applicable in the Dubai Municipality case is unclear. Therefore, it is necessary to determine the relevance of the opportunities offered by BIM in the field of risk management based on the available information.
The method chosen for the paper is secondary research. The data utilized for reaching the designated goals is collected from the available literature on the subject. The main reason behind the choice in favor of the secondary research is the availability of the literature on the subject. BIM is currently widely adopted across the world, and its effects are studied extensively, which makes the required information readily available. Another reason is the relative approachability of the information, which does not require a significant allocation of resources and is not time-consuming, which is especially desirable considering the limitations of the project.
The scope of the research includes both the statistical and descriptive data. The former is necessary for obtaining reliable information on the benefits in question, and the latter is used to substantiate the findings and provide context for the information. The analysis takes the descriptive form since the accuracy and accessibility of the results retrieved via this method are sufficient for the identified goal.
The sources of data include existing studies on the applicability of BIM to the field of risk management, the assessment of benefits produced by the use of BIM, and the exploration of identified barriers to its implementation. In addition, the data on the results of the BIM utilization by the Dubai Municipality is incorporated in order to establish the connection to the located results and determine its applicability to the case. Data collection is limited to reputable sources such as articles from peer-reviewed journals, consultancy reports, and web sources by authoritative organizations and the government.
Enablers and Inhibitors of Best Implementation
Despite its growing popularity, BIM is not yet commonly accepted in the construction industry. The lack of customer awareness of the benefits associated with BIM implementation often stands in the way of construction companies that choose to use it. On the other hand, a growing body of evidence supports the fact of BIMs feasibility in the field of risk management. The following chapter provides an overview of the key enablers for implementation of BIM in risk management field and points out several important inhibitors pertinent to the Dubai Municipality setting.
Risk Management Overview
The construction industry is inherently prone to risks. To maintain the pace and uphold the quality of the project, it is necessary to implement a set of activities which allow identifying, analyzing, evaluating, monitoring, and addressing risks (Tomek & Matjka 2014). The risk is defined as an event that is characterized by dimensions of likelihood (the probability of happening) and consequences (the impact scenario), which can be collectively described as risk level (Tomek & Matjka 2014). Other important terms that need to be identified are risk owner, risk source, and risk recipient, as well as the context in which the risk is viewed, which can be internal or external (Tomek & Matjka 2014).
BIM has been shown to impact both internal and external risks in the construction industry (Zhang et al. 2013). However, it is worth pointing out that its influence differs depending on its presence in the segment. In the setting where it is already a relatively established practice, such as in European countries, it is considered a tool for risk mitigation as well as the creation of opportunities necessary for maintaining a competitive advantage. However, in a setting where it is relatively uncommon, such as in Dubai Municipality, it generates additional risks during the implementation phase. It is, therefore, important to recognize and utilize the enablers of successful implementation as well as identify possible inhibitors in order to address them.
Enablers of Implementation
Reactive IT-based Safety Systems
The informational technology capabilities offered by BIM offer means of detecting health and safety risks on construction sites, comprehensively assessing them, and mitigating them in time. Database technology is among the tools that ensure appropriate recording of and access to existing data on accidents. The previous experience of accidents provides an opportunity to conduct an analysis and identify the most likely hazards. A digital database combined with an analytical platform may evaluate risk distribution and give an overview of the most common risk factors occurring in any given field. Such information would be beneficial for risk management professionals as well as the customers who will be able to evaluate the competence of the chosen contractors. The online access to such database further increases the accessibility, offer submission possibilities, and establish communication channels. Another BIM tool that can be considered an enabler in the area of IT-based safety is virtual reality a of a certain environment that reacts to the interaction in a realistic way.
Within BIM, virtual reality is used to train workers in recognition of and appropriate reaction to the hazardous environments and situation without exposing them to the health risk. Aside from the potential improvements associated with the behavior modification and acquiring of the actual skills necessary for avoiding the dangerous situations, virtual reality is expected to provide the statistical data on the likely outcome related to a specific situation. Such data is important for assessing the likelihood of any given scenario, the readiness of the employees, and the expected improvement of a training session (Zhang et al. 2013). (BIM-VE) offers enhancements in information flow during an emergency situation as well as evacuation awareness (Zhang et al. 2013). Finally, the integration of data on common threats into a model of a project combined with the visualization of the construction site allows for a first-person inspection of the identified potential threats and hazardous locations. Finally, the integration of geographic information systems (GIS) into the BIM process allows for a much more precise assessment of the safety risks. The integration of GIS expands the scope of BIM to cover geospatial analysis, topography modeling, and , which significantly improves the accuracy of hazard identification in certain environments (Tomek & Matjka 2014).
Automated Rule Checking
The presence of well-defined rules and the possibility to monitor the compliance is a definitive component of risk management. However, their usage is traditionally connected to the inconsistencies of interpretation and application due to the manual approach, differences in comprehension, and reasoning capabilities. In the construction industry, the most important areas that rely on compliance with rules are related to compliance with building design and maintaining the safety regulations. The introduction of BIM allows encoding the rules in the format recognizable by computer software which then allows real-time and on-demand monitoring and verification of the compliance. The addition of the database of known common causes of accidents further broadens the possibilities of BIM by allowing estimating risk distribution on the design stage (Abbasnejad, Nepal & Drogemuller 2016). Numerous examples of using automated rule checking support the notion that BIM can successfully improve safety ratings of the project without significant resource allocation (Zhang et al. 2013).
The knowledge generated by previous experience in the construction industry can be valuable for prevention of future accidents as well as minimization of their potential occurrence. However, the volume of such databases and their diverse format places limitations on their effective utilization. In order to improve the results, the data is processed, systematized, and encoded in a computer-accessible form. The recent merge of the knowledge-based systems and BIM has created new opportunities that added the opportunity for managers to share the relevant information among employees. Such information is not limited to the processed bits of information and may include guidelines and suggestions built upon it. The use of knowledge-based systems can then be extended to cover the possible root causes of the risks and provide the most successful solutions using a risk-oriented module (Abbasnejad, Nepal & Drogemuller 2016).
Applicability to Dubai Municipality Case
According to Fadda (2014), the enablers of BIM implementation in the case of Dubai Municipality can be grouped into three categories policy, process, and technology. The latter two categories visibly align with the risk management-related ones presented above. For instance, all of the mentioned software vendors, such as ArchiCAD, Bentley, and Autodesk Rivet, are capable of the risk management functions such as with location and highlighting of the identified areas of increased risk, limited virtual reality training simulation, and integration of automated rule checking. Fadda (2014) also mentions the communication capabilities of the BIM servers that allow synchronization of teams for improved coordination, which can be utilized for sharing managerial information retrieved via knowledge-based systems. Moreover, the levels 2 and 3 of the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) identified by Fadda (2014) are both necessary and sufficient for implementing a required level of safety. In addition, it can be argued that the consistent monitoring of risks and maintaining the desired level of safety is only possible through the incorporation of the (pertinent to Stage 2) and a seamless accessibility of all members of the project to the project model (necessary for achieving Stage 3) (Fadda 2014). Therefore, we can conclude that the majority of the identified enablers are applicable to the risk management in the construction industry of Dubai Municipality.
Despite its growing popularity, BI still faces several barriers that threaten to inhibit its implementation. These barriers are traditionally allocated to three factors. First, the diversity of software solutions, the varying compatibility across versions and the inability to transfer data between platforms define the specificities of BIM functioning. Second, the organizational domain affects its efficiency through the presence and quality of training sessions, BIM operators, and managerial activities. Third, awareness, motivation, perceived value, and willingness to implement BIM form an attitude towards the technology. In the risk management segment, BIM is still poorly recognized, and its benefits are only superficially understood. Besides, the regions where BIM is in the early implementation phase, it is reasonable to expect the lack of skilled staff.
A study by Mehran (2016) examined the process of BIM adoption in the UAE following the mandate of 2015. Three main inhibitors were identified by the researchers. First, BIM failed to present a unified set of standards. Second, there was insufficient understanding of the benefits associated with BIM implementation and the feasibility of the technology in the light of the cost of its implementation. By extension, many vendors and individuals demonstrate resistance to change towards BIM, which is identified as a separate factor (Mehran 2016). In addition, it should be pointed out that currently the Mandate specifies several criteria of BIM application, and although the criteria were significantly expanded in a 2015 revision of the Mandate, such approach still cannot be deemed encompassing. Therefore, we can conclude that the identified inhibitors are associated with the organizational and attitude factors, where the former include the incomplete coverage of construction projects as well as the deficiency of the robust standards, and the latter are represented by the inaccurate perception of the benefits offered by the program.
Suggestions for Improvement
As has been shown in the previous section, the enablers of BIM implementation for risk management in Dubai Municipality reside mostly within the technological domain, and the most prominent inhibitors are either organizational or perceptional in nature. Therefore, the following list of suggestions can be outlined.
Currently, the mandate that encourages the implementation of BIM covers only a certain segment of Municipalitys projects. This means that the BIM adoption is still fragmentary. Therefore, a more encompassing approach must be pursued that would eventually include all projects and encourage BIM usage in a holistic rather than piecemeal manner. It should be noted that the most recent additions to the mandate are consistent with this recommendation since they add the criterion of a governmental project to the list of facilities pertained to its application and decreased several other metrics, such as the number of floors from 40 to 20 and the area from 300 to 200 thousand square feet (Mehran 2016). It is, therefore, logical to conclude that improvement in this area is underway, which should be acknowledged by the stakeholders.
Due to the fact that BIM implementation is in the early stage, the construction companies work on the implementation of policies and standards that regulate various aspects of its use. However, as pointed out by Mehran (2016), these efforts are disparate and may eventually contribute to confusion rather than convenience and transparency. Therefore, in order to improve consistency in BIM implementation and eliminate the possible setbacks associated with discrepancies, it is recommended to establish and maintain the unified standards and develop the policies accordingly. Admittedly, the most viable way of unification of the said policies is the coordinating effort of the administrative entity such as the Dubai government. Therefore, it is suggested to implement the encouraging initiatives that would promote collaboration across the industry and result in improved safety and cost-efficiency.
As was pointed out, the advantages of BIM for risk management are understood insufficiently by the construction industry managers in the Dubai Municipality (Mehran 2016). The knowledge is often partial, and the excessive cost of BIM technology is often viewed without the acknowledgment of opportunities it provides for saving resources. Thus, it is recommended to develop a series of events aimed at improving the understanding of the process and the advantages offered by automation, database functionality, and employee training. It is also worth pointing out that despite the growing recognition of BIM, the sources of information on the technology are currently limited to the U.S.-based and European journals, where it is already firmly established. Consequently, only a limited amount of research exists that illustrates the applicability of BIM to Dubai Municipality setting. Thus, it is suggested enabling the researchers to facilitate studies of BIM-related risk management practices and associated benefits. It is also highly desirable to establish a local publication that would inform on the developments in the area and improve understanding among the stakeholders.
BIM is a complicated system and requires sufficient training as a necessary condition of successful implementation. For this reason, most of the vendors which offer BIM-related technology provide training services for the staff. However, the current learning curve is considered too steep by most respondents (Gerges et al. 2017). Such situation is especially undesirable for levels 2 and 3 of the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) identified by Fadda (2014), which require both horizontal and vertical cooperation between employees and equal access to the system. Thus, ways must be sought of providing a more accessible training not only to high-level operators and administrators but to all participant of the project that can benefit from risk management capabilities offered by BIM systems.
Resistance to Change
One of the issues identified by Mehran (2016) is the reluctance to implement BIM in the construction projects observed in some companies. This factor is a common occurrence among entities which are subject to change. Consequently, the phenomenon is well-understood and a multitude of methods of addressing it exist in the literature. The suggestion, therefore, is to apply the most effective solutions since they are expected to be sufficiently compatible both with the Dubai Municipality setting and the construction industry.