Last edited 08 Jul 2016

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:

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:

  1. Design brief
  2. Concept
  3. Design development / technical design
  4. Production information / tender documentation
  5. Practical completion
  6. Post-practical completion

Ref RIBA, BIM Overlay to the RIBA Outline Plan of Work. NB the plan of work has now been updated and the stages changed, but the BIM overlay does not appear to have been revised.

Alternatively, PAS 1192:2 Specification for information management for the capital/delivery phase of construction projects using building information modelling, proposes:

  1. Brief.
  2. Concept.
  3. Definition.
  4. Design.
  5. Build & commission.
  6. Handover & closeout.
  7. Operation & in use.

There may also be information exchanges within the supply chain, which may be more frequent than employer information exchanges.

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