A decade ago the volume of data in the construction industry was miniscule compared to the information that exists on a project today. One area that is creating an information explosion in the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry is the movement toward BIM (building information modeling).

Mike DeLacey, president, Microdesk, www.microdesk.com, Nashua, N.H., predicts more architects, construction managers, contractors, and owners will begin working to get their arms around BIM in 2012, as more companies understand the value of BIM.

The benefits of BIM are significant—early coordination and clash detection, a shortened project schedule, and better visualization, just to name a few—which is why many construction companies have moved to a BIM process. However, as teams begin to put more relevant data into the models, this creates challenges such as how to distribute the files.

Leigh Jasper, CEO, Aconex, www.aconex.com, San Bruno, Calif., says the volume of data, due to BIM, has grown and is requiring the need for collaboration technology. He points to a few challenges associated with BIM where collaboration technology can help: distribution of files; approval/sign off on models; connecting the models to other information such as photos or contracts; combining information from different modeling tools in one central location for access from different team members; publishing of models and distribution of 2D files to subs; and archiving models for handover.

Collaboration technology, such as the system from Aconex, gives teams the ability to manage all project data within one central platform. In December, Aconex announced the company has achieved ISO27001 certification, meaning the software has achieved the highest international standard for information security management. With practically all collaboration being done on the Web, information security may be a concern for some companies. But certification such as this ensures such data remains protected.

As the proliferation of data in construction continues to grow, so too will the solutions to manage all the data associated with BIM. Companies continue to update software to meet the needs of teams and enable more efficient workflows.

For example, Bentley Systems, www.bentley.com, Exton, Pa., has developed a number of solution integrations to enable data exchange. In November, the company announced new agreements with Adobe Systems, www.adobe.com, San Jose, Calif., and Bluebeam Software,www.bluebeam.com, Pasadena, Calif., which will allow PDF-format deliverables to be sent from design to construction to operations, and back again, using i-models and the ProjectWise collaboration platform. This will allow users to easily navigate 3D models and drawings from within PDF documents.

While the data explosion in construction continues to increase, technology vendors are finding new ways to provide solutions to manage the information.

DeLacey of Microdesk points to another big challenge in the industry: the wide array of technology adoption levels within different AEC organizations can make it difficult to implement BIM. With collaboration technology advances, project teams will be able to more easily share BIM data. This might be something to keep in mind as you are planning your BIM strategies for 2012.