Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Boston Day 4

Day four of my Boston trip and day two of the Autodesk media event. So after checking out of the Element Hotel it was over to the Autodesk Offices for the visionary / futures session. We where bombarded with various exciting technologies, many which can be found on Autodesk Labs. What was of particular interest to me was Project Dasher, be sure to check it out here….


Whilst still a research project, Dasher showed the potential for downstream use of the Building Information Model. As the site says “Project Dasher is a web-based application that helps to augment existing Autodesk® Revit® design models with real-time building submeter and sensor data on electricity and occupancy.” The use of the model for downstream use is extremely high on my priority list right now, as I am work with a client who really wants to leverage the BIM for full lifecycle use.

After a short coffee break it was over to Phil Bernstein for a Pecha Kucha style presentation which he shared with two of his colleagues. This was a look at trends and changes in the industry as well as how new technology is changing how we deliver design and construction. Cloud Computing and mobile technologies are the take home here….these two trends alone will transform how we will work now and into the future.

Then onto the Q&A. Robert Manna asked a very interesting question about the term BIM. He said he saw a shift by Autodesk from the B in BIM being a noun to a verb. Its all about Building the model….

After a lunch it was on to the secret squirrel Revit futures session; continued NDA’s are in place so I am sworn to secrecy! These sessions, in my opinion, are one of the most exciting aspects of these visits. It allows you to get a good inside track on the challenges that the guys and girls at the factory have to deliver the tools we require. I am going to sound like a cracked record; but once you truly start to see the amount of feedback and viewpoints the factory have to accommodate, you really start to understand the magnitude of the challenge.

There were 5 of us, all well-known bloggers, who attended the session. We were asked to provide feedback on a particular piece of proposed functionality that is currently being worked on. The 5 of us provided 5 different responses to how we thought the task should be solved! None of the responses where right or wrong, in fact they were all valid answers. It is this sort of feedback Autodesk look for. Dave Conant from Autodesk, who was fielding the questions, highlighted that this is typical of user responses. It is said that there are many ways to skin a cat, so if there was just one simple answer to the problem then it would be easy. Revit as a technology to deliver BIM is now a solution which is used in many different geographical locations; no longer can you think of it as a product which needs to work only in your backyard. Each country has different building codes / regulation and Autodesk needs to be able to address these to satisfy everybody's needs. Therefore, many of these large development projects are multi-year operations and with our continued year on year Revit fix, we still feel we want immediate gratification and bang for our subscription bucks. Cut the development time, then you are going to have a half backed solution. I think the user base needs to start to understand this and if you think just throwing resource at the problem will sort it, then you are wrong. I have seen architectural firms do this on projects; thinking that by having more people on the project it will ensure the delivery goals are meet. Generally this never works, because people just get in one another’s way and it creates more tension and project instability.

Anyway, I would like to extend my “thanks” to the development guys and girls who took time out of the busy schedule to share what they are doing. As always, it’s enlightening and exciting at the same time. It gives me the confidence that things are genuinely moving in the right direction and makes me proud to be part of the Building Information Modelling revolution. Nevertheless we still have a hell of a long way to go; we need to continue to educate the AEC community, clients, the authorities and general public, only then will BIM become mainstream. I’ll give you an example; I recently changed my car insurance. As part of the exercise to get the insurance quote I was asked what I did for a living…now go try and explain that you are a Revit Specialist helping to deliver Building Information Modelling on architectural projects! In the end I resorted to IT manager as my final response…….

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