This is one of a number of recommendations that AECOM has included in its submission to the Australian House of Representatives standing committee on infrastructure and communications.
According to Richard Morrison, ICT leader at AECOM ANZ and co-author of the submission, unless the digital disruption taking place in the construction and infrastructure sectors is properly harnessed Australia will miss a once in a generation opportunity to improve the design, planning and effectiveness of future infrastructure investments.
Mr Morrison comments: “Ignoring the efficiency dividend offered by digital engineering and utilising open source building information management (BIM) software would be like driving a car with the handbrake on, you might get to your destination, but it would be a slower and far more expensive journey than it needed to be.”
Through its work on Europe’s largest infrastructure project, London CrossRail, AECOM has seen the benefits of government mandated use of BIM to facilitate the effective design, planning and delivery of the largest infrastructure project in Europe. The use of BIM enabled dozens of designers and contractors to work together using a common technology standard to build CrossRail in the virtual world before breaking ground in the physical world. In doing so they were able to identify any costly clashes, agree on sequencing of work and eliminate delays.
David Burchard, Associate director Transportation said: “We applaud the Australian Government for recognising the productivity gains that smart information and communications can have. Our submission urges the Government to follow the example set in the United Kingdom and mandate a BIM industry standard for all Government projects. The UK’s National BIM standard has been a huge success and we are confident the same benefits could be achieved here.”
According to Andy Wohlsperger, associate director, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at AECOM the other key actions include open data initiatives and online utility infrastructure portals that detail location, current demand and capacities as part of an overarching operating picture.
Mr Wohlsperger said: “These online tools will provide vital real-time location based analysis for planning, site selection and design. They would also accelerate the planning processes by allowing the reservation of in-ground and above ground corridors associated with long-term projects, to minimise the expensive over-build that is so common today.”
In addition, AECOM recommends the creation of an online national disaster-related GIS framework which can be updated with public and private infrastructure for disaster related planning and automated emergency warning purposes. As co-authors of the submission Mr Morrison, Mr Wohlsperger and Mr Burchard will be answering questions at a public hearing held by the House of Representatives standing committee on infrastructure and communications, in Brisbane on 24 September.