Who do we want the #BIM data ‘caretakers’ to be?

Who do we want the #BIM data ‘caretakers’ to be?

In order to examine this question a number of definitions are required; ‘we’ will need to be defined, a clarification on the role of the data ‘caretaker’ is addressed and who performs this role will be critically considered.  Further to this, potential procurement route selection, roles and responsibilities, and risks and contract type will be outlined within the context of the question.


Ashcraft (2009) acknowledges that there are a diverse range of disciplines who could interpret the data ‘caretaker’ role differently, based on an individual’s post-contract (i.e. not client based role) and professional experience. Therefore, in this case ‘we’ could be interpreted as the post-contract design team consultants or contractor who will in the future be responding to a commissioning organisation’s information needs.  PAS 1192-3 (2013) outlined that Building Information Modelling (BIM) projects will typically be procured by commissioning organisations, for example public sector clients such as Government Departments and Local Authorities, and private sector clients, such as developers, and they will determine who the data ‘caretakers’.  This is defined within the Asset Information Requirements (AIR) (PAS 1192-3), which a client produces in relation to a new asset and provides ‘data and information requirements of the organisation in relation to the asset(s) it is responsible for’ (PAS 1192-3, 2014, p. 3).  PAS 1192-3 (2014) also articulates that the AIR is integral to the Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR) that a client will issue pre-contract for a BIM project, and therefore post-contract design team consultants (and contractors) may have little or no influence to determine who the ‘caretaker’ role will be.


How the ‘caretaker’ is conceptualised is a further point of relevance, when establishing data ownership. The complex requirements of data management for a BIM project throughout the project illustrates that the ownership or ‘caretaker’ role of the information needs to be defined prior to the project commencing and at subsequent work stages throughout the project PAS 1192-3 (2014).  The ‘caretaker’ role therefore, could be translated as the Information or Data Manager for a project. This Information Manager will be required at pre-contract, during the design stage, construction stage and through into use and management of the asset and most likely will involve different individuals.  For example, at Stage 0 the client could be considered to be the data ‘caretaker’ specifying the information required for the asset from the consultant team/contractor led team.  During the design and construction work stages RIBA Stage 1 to Stage 5, PAS 1192-2 (2013) confirms the requirements for the information management and information exchanges, and defines the management of the Common Data Environment (CDE).  The resultant output data shared with the commissioning organisation could include ‘Construction In Building information exchange’ (COBie) data that is the UK Governments required ‘exchange schema for federated building information management (BIM) (UK level 2), alongside BIM models and PDF documents,’ (PAS 1192-4, 2014, p. 1).  This complexity means that the client may require an organisation or an individual to receive and manage this information on their behalf.  Upon completion at Stages 6 and 7, PAS 1192-3 (2014, p. 4) proposes that this role is conducted by an ‘Organisational representative responsible for establishing governance and assuring data and information flow to and from the Asset Information Model (AIM)’. PAS 1192-3 (2014) goes on to explain that this role may be undertaken by an individual or a number of individuals in succession throughout the asset lifespan and can be from the owner or operator organisation. Therefore, this would suggest that that the ‘caretaker’ role is not the domain of one organisation or individual and will change throughout the process.


A Construction Industry Council (CIC) document Outline Scope of Services for the Role of Information Management (2013) has identified that the role of information management required further clarification and has assigned a set of roles and responsibilities to this to define, and also limit, the requirements of this role during the design and construction stages.  This document highlights that this role could be undertaken by any of the project team members and is not necessarily a new separate appointment to a project.  This becomes a useful clarification to ensure that an overview of responsibilities for the Information Manager is provided and limits the risk of someone unknowingly taking on additional responsibilities and the attendant risk.  Additionally, to support this clarity at the asset management stage BS ISO 55000 (2014, p.8) states; ‘The asset management system should specify the competency requirements for personnel involved in asset management.’  When considering who the data ‘caretaker’ is, this confirms that the whole lifecycle of the asset should be considered and multiple individuals are required to fulfil this stewardship.

A further area that needs consideration regarding the data ‘caretaker’ role is the contract type proposed for the project, as responsibility can also shift at different stages. There are broadly three approaches to building contracts which include; Traditional Contracts, Design and Build (D&B) Contracts and Partnering Contracts.  Each will have an effect on the data management at each stage and affect the data ‘caretaker’ role.  In particular the difference between Traditional and D&B will result in the CDE being managed by the a member of the design team up to Stage 5 Construction with a Traditional form of contract and then potentially passed to the client at Stage 6 Hand-over. In a D&B approach the CDE will be managed by the contractor from Stage 2 onwards up to Stage 6 Hand-over. Ashcraft (2009) identified perceptively that the information within a model is the focus of the benefits of BIM to a project and that the ownership of this information is crucial at each stage.  Ashcraft (2009) argues that if ownership issues within a project are significant then they should be determined by a suitable contract.  Indeed he goes on to say; “The upshot is that who owns the model, who owns the information in the model, and who has access to the model should be considered when the BIM Procedures are developed.” (Ashcraft 2009, p. 15).  Data ‘caretaking’ and defining this is required throughout the project and management is the CDE could be multi agency.


An attempt to ameliorate the issues caused by construction contracts on a BIM project by the CIC led to the formulation of the CIC BIM Protocol (2013). This document is a contract addendum which aims to provide some legal clarity for project team members.  In the specific context of information management it states that the Information Management Role is; “…a role in connection with the Project which includes, inter alia, the establishment and management of the processes, protocols and procedures set out in the Information Requirements.”(BIM Protocol, p. 1.) However, even with a contract addendum, McAdam (2009, p.5) identifies that; ‘trust between participants is vital, but so too is transparent location of liability risk’ when collaborating as a team to ensure that each team member is sure of their responsibilities.  Further to this, responsibility for a data ‘caretaker’ is the potential loss of data.  Onions (2013, para. 24) argues that if a party is ‘hosting information in respect of a model’ that protection from loss of data should be planned for.  She also argues that access to this information should be agreed from the commencement of the project.

In conclusion, the BIM Protocol (2013, p.1) summarises that the “Information Manager means the person appointed, initially by the Employer, to perform the Information Management Role”. This indicates that BIM is a process that encompasses the whole life cycle of an asset which begins at RIBA Work Stage 0 ‘Strategy’ all the way through to Stage 7 ‘In Use’ and through to potential demolition or refurbishment.  PAS 1192-3 (2014) confirms the process for a commissioning organisation to define their Organisational Information Requirements (OIR) to ensure that they receive the asset information required.  This includes the requirements for the relevant information, or data, to be exchanged back to them to ensure that the operational phase of an asset will contain digitised information such as; ‘Specifications, Operation and Maintenance Manuals and Health and Safety information’ (PAS 1192-3, 2014, p. ix).


It appears that it is important that data ‘caretaking’ or stewardship is carefully planned prior to commencing the project. If the project progresses without a thorough understanding of the data required then the resultant information to be received back by the commissioning organisation may very well be incomplete, not fit for purpose, and very likely unable to be used to manage the asset efficiently.  PAS 1192-3 (2014) illustrates that organisations should define who they want to look after the information on their behalf throughout the project and at handover and state how they want to use this once received.  This would suggest that the term ‘we’ may not be wholly appropriate when establishing who the data ‘caretaker’ is, as the client or commissioning organisation and their asset needs will determine this. 


Ashcraft, H. (2009 October 6). ‘Building Information Modelling: A Framework for Collaboration’, Paper presented at Construction Law International Conference.  Retrieved from http://www.scl.org.uk


Onions, B. (2013 November 11). BIM Legals – A guest post by Bethan Onions, Solicitor at ARUP.  Retrieved from http://caseyrutland.com/2013/11/05/bim-legals-a-guest-post-by-bethan-onions-solicitor-at-arup/


British Standards Institute, (2013). PAS 1192:2 Specification for information management for the capital/delivery phase of construction projects using building information modelling. London: BSI


British Standards Institute ISO 55000, (2014). BS ISO 55000 Asset management. Overview, principles and terminology. London: BSI


British Standards Institute, (2013). PAS 1192-3:2014 Specification for information management for the operational phase of assets using building information modelling. London: BSI


British Standards Institute, (2014). BS 1192-4:2014 Collaborative production of information Part 4: Fulfilling employer’s information exchange requirements using COBie – Code of practice. London, BSI


Construction Industry Council (2013). Outline Scope of Services for the Role of Information Management, London: Construction Industry Council.


Construction Industry Council (2013), Building Information Model (BIM) Protocol, London: Construction Industry Council.


‘Digital Plan of Works’ (2015). The National Building Specification, retrieved 14th October 2015, http://www.thenbs.com/bimtoolkit/


Koko U. (2012). BIM: mapping out the legal issues, retrieved 12th October 2015  http://www.thenbs.com/topics/bim/articles/bimMappingOutTheLegalIssues.asp


McAdam, B. (2010). Building Information Modelling: the UK legal context. International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, 2 (3), 246-259.

‘RIBA Plan of Works’ (2013). RIBA Plan of Work 2013, retrieved 12th October 2015, http://www.ribaplanofwork.com/PlanOfWork.aspx


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