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Towards a BIM Gateway in the Netherlands
Open BIM standards are essential to the successful widespread implementation of BIM within the Dutch building industry. Last year, a project was conducted into how best to ensure the maintenance and upkeep of these standards. The result of this project was a Foundation Plan. This business plan was commissioned by the Council for the BIM Gateway Foundation. The council has representatives from CROW, SBRCURnet, STABU and one from the Building Information Council or BIR. Geonovum, S@les in Construction/ETIM and buildingSMART Benelux were all partners in the process. The BIM Gateway Foundation is currently being incorporated. The goal of the Foundation Plan is to propose a business case and give specifications for a BIM Gateway which maintains the integrity of open BIM standards. This, in turn, supports the decision to set up a BIM Gateway Foundation.

Note: CROW, SBRCURnet, STABU, S@les in Construction/ETIM and Geonovum are all non-profit standards institutions based in the Netherlands.

Why is a BIM Gateway needed?
The most important reason for building a BIM Gateway, for its users as well as its financiers, is to reduce maintenance costs by bringing together the open BIM standards into one coherent system. This will ensure that the standards can be used more effectively and with greater efficiency as well as promoting their widespread use. The BIM’s strategic advantages – its ability to allow projects to be built faster and more economically while being better quality – will be further realised. A BIM Gateway will satisfy the practical need for a good information service which will both answer user’s questions and share knowledge. Those providing the service are in agreement about the strategic advantages of such a portal, and that now is a good time to build one. Part of the issue is that some of the organisations are under financial pressure to cut costs in relation to the separate standards. A BIM Gateway will ensure the survival of each standard. It is expected that working together on the project will result in not only a renewed synergy in general, but in a strengthened network which will encourage wider use. The BIM Gateway will present a unified front to the market with one clear message - these are the open BIM standards for the building industry. Some knowledge organisations may decide to work under the umbrella of the Gateway to build their own helpdesk. The BIM Gateway tailors into developments at both a national and international level which support co-operation between the different parties involved with BIM. It also aligns with the trend, brought on by current economic developments, of operating more efficiently together.

Ambition to be a binding force
The BIM Gateway’s goal is to stimulate the implementation of BIM within the Dutch building industry. It has a further ambition, however, a collective dream which is still a remote prospect. This is to become an independent authority for BIM in the built environment at both a national and an international level. This authority would be client and user-oriented and would be an inspirational network which offered a current and unified choice of BIM Standards. It would have long-term structured funding and would be made use of by everybody who worked with the built environment, no matter what discipline they came from. In addition, it would be fully implemented in all relevant BIM software and recognised in the network. The BIM Gateway aims to be a pro-active and binding force. Its strategy is to drive the dialogue between supply and demand for BIM and Open BIM standards. The BIM Gateway will therefore become the combined adoption and management force as well as the open BIM knowledge network of the Netherlands.

BIM Gateway in practice
The BIM Gateway will consist of a ‘front-office’ and a ‘back-office’. The front-office will include the knowledge organisations and the BIR. Its main focus will be to give information about the site and promote the use of BIM to users from the building industry both current and future. There will also be a ‘back-office’ which will be responsible for the management of the standards and for linking up with other standards on a national and international level. It will be where interaction between user and work groups as well as the international network will take place. The CB-NL, VISI, COINS, NLCS, NL/SfB, GB-CAS standards and the national BIM protocol will be fully managed by the BIM Gateway in the future. (There will be a hand-over plan for the standards which are already being managed while a separate plan will be put together for the CB-NL and COINS as they are not yet in the management phase.) There will be a development plan for the IFC, IMGEO, CityGML, ETIM, S@ales in de Bouw and STABU Bouwsystemen & Installaties. From analysis of what is on offer and of the market itself, the conclusion can be drawn that there is potentially plenty of room for growth when it comes to applying the standards to the total market. The total market can be defined as the construction of housing and utilities; earth, water and road works; and urban and regional planning. The BIM Gateway’s activities will be grouped into People and Culture, Management and Organisation and Information Technology. These clusters are similar to those of the BIR program. The site will be built in stages. Work will begin in 2015 and it will be fully operational in 2016; 2017 and 2018 will see the mature product.

The success of a project is dependent on its budget. The conclusion is that if all parties concerned make a financial contribution, then it will be enough to keep the BIM Gateway project running until the end of 2018. It would offer a basic level of service during this time. Funding has been promised from the BIR branches in addition to FME. Money will also come from municipalities, provinces, ProRail, Rijkswaterstaat, Rijksvastgoedbedrijf, corporations, the network administrators and Schiphol. 2015 and 2016 will be transition years. 2015 has a budget of €505 000 and 2016 a budget of €790 000.  2017’s budget of €810 000 is meant to lay the foundation for future funding. It is important, however, that certainty about continued financing be obtained as soon as possible. This business model allows free and unlimited use of the standards managed by the BIM Gateway.  A further sum of between €250 000 and €500 000 a year will be required in order to realise the full potential of the portal. Every party involved will have a different business case with regards to the BIM Gateway. The rewards for the sector as a whole, however, are obvious. The faster BIM is introduced, the better. The business model and its governance will be evaluated after approximately two years.

The BIM Gateway will form part of what the Dutch built environment industry has to offer online. It will give the management of Dutch open BIM standards coherence while stimulating the universal adoption of BIM within the industry. Increased co-operation within the industry will strengthen the Dutch building sector as a whole!

Do you need more information about the BIM Gateway, or do you wish to contribute in any way? Your questions and comments in English are welcome at helpdesk@bimloket.nl.