The role of BIM (building information modeling) means many things to many different people in construction. In some respects that is precisely the challenge with BIM—no clear definition on the process or the ways in which technology fits in at different parts of that process.

Trimble, www.sunnyvale.com, Calif., is one such company looking to take a leadership approach in helping the construction industry get its arms around the concept of BIM. The company, which spearheaded the BIM to Field alliance in late 2010, announced late last week it has joined the buildingSMART alliance, www.buildingsmartalliance.org, Washington, D.C.

The buildingSMART alliance leads technical, political, and financial support for use of advanced digital technology associated in the construction industry. Operating within the National Institute of Building Sciences, www.nibs.org, Washington, D.C., the alliance leads the development and promotion of open data standards in effort to establish best practices around information management in the digital age of construction.

Officially, Trimble has been accepted as a National Building Information Modeling standards (U.S.) project committee member with the opportunity to help establish industry standards and processes for BIM workflows. By joining the alliance, Trimble will play a role in developing industry standards around the collection and use of construction data in support of BIM.

Company officials at Trimble emphasize just how critical the next few years will be with regards to educating the market on BIM. According to Jarrod Krug, marketing communications manager, customers have been asking for clarity around BIM for years. One of the first steps in helping the industry meet such demands was with the BIM to Field Alliance. Now, according to Krug, the efforts with the buildingSMART alliance are next step.

As the construction industry continues working to develop a common definition for BIM, organizations like the buildingSMART alliance will play a critical role in fostering knowledge. Its members range from construction professionals to industry educators and advocates, all with a collective goal of making bringing clarity around BIM—both from a technology and process perspective.