Data drops for BIM
NB See also our Step-by-step guide to using BIM on projects supported by more than 100 linked articles.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a very broad term that describes the process of creating and managing digital information about a building or other facility (such as a bridge, highway, tunnel and so on).
To ensure projects are properly validated and controlled as they develop, data is extracted from the evolving building information model and submitted to the client at key milestones. This submission of data is described as a 'data drop' or 'information exchange'.
Generally, data drops are aligned to project stages, and the information required reflects the level of development that the project should have reached by that stage. This might be considered analogous a stage report on a conventional project.
The nature of data drops should be set out in the Employer's Information Requirements (EIR). The Employer's Information Requirements may be considered to sit alongside the project brief. Whilst the project brief defines the nature of the built asset that the employer wishes to procure, the Employer's Information Requirements defines information about the built asset that the employer wishes to procure to ensure that the design is developed in accordance with their needs and that they are able to operate the completed development effectively and efficiently.
Data drops are likely to include:
- Models (Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) models and native project information models).
- Data structures (such as COBie files and schedules).
- Reports (typically PDF's, although native files can be more useable).
The client will check the data in terms of compliance with the Employer's Information Requirements, compliance with the brief, cost / price, and so on before deciding whether the project should proceed to the next stage. See Employer's decision point for more information.
The timing and exact requirements for data drops will vary with the nature of the project and the needs of the client, however, the RIBA Plan of Work proposes 6 data drops aligned with the following stages:
- Design brief
- Design development / technical design
- Production information / tender documentation
- Practical completion
- Post-practical completion
- Build & commission.
- Handover & closeout.
- Operation & in use.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
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