Above all, be an information professional

February 7th, 2018, Published in Articles: PositionIT

Information has long driven business processes and the construction industry is finally realising the value of data and data in large quantities, specifically digital data. Although BIM is not a new concept, it is gaining traction.

Pierre Potgieter

Pierre Potgieter

BIM, of course, doesn’t come without its problems such as file interoperability, data management, sharing and permissions – and its critics’ scepticism is not unfounded. However, BIM and related information models, including geospatial information systems (GIS), are proving their worth in ways that are hard to ignore.

The benefit of information models lies in their power to consolidate and establish a central, authoritative source of information which, in turn, allows other optimisations and functionalities such as sharing and modelling processes that were not previously possible.

Geospatial professionals in fields such as GIS, 3D laser scanning and earth observation are in an enviable position as information professionals. They have long been contemplating the same questions that BIM now raises, and have several decades of experience in working with complex information and datasets. In addition, many have long been involved in various aspects of the construction industry.

Developments in BIM are now putting pressure on some construction professions by changing the nature, roles and ways in which work is done or by automating tasks. Quantity surveyors, for example, are resistant to the ease with which bills of quantities can be generated and some architects feel their intellectual property is at risk in shared digital models.

Geospatial professionals may associate with their construction sector peers as they, too, underwent and continue to undergo similar changes. Developments such as unmanned aerial vehicles, automated data processing and user-friendly GIS have also changed geospatial job roles and have been met with resistance by professional land surveyors and members in the GIS community. Some resort to job reservation to ensure job security.

Technology, however, is no replacement for entrenched knowledge and fluent data literacy. Instead, technology has emerged as an extremely useful tool in most aspects of life, and a clear trend shows that its convenience, practicality and efficiency lead to adoption over time almost naturally – it is the reason we use flat screens (space, weight, contrast, image quality), and why we don’t hesitate to buy newer cars (fuel savings, new safety features).

The same is likely to be true for tech advancements in construction and geospatial information and modelling, even more so as and when their supporting technologies mature.

What does not change are the underlying uses of technology – screens still serve as displays, cars provide mobility, and information models allow for better information processes.

In the information age, the information professional will lead the way.

Realising and identifying one’s role in an information ecosystem, and settling into it with confidence will not only offer consolation in times of technological change, but will in all likelihood make you professionally nimble.

Above all, be an information professional.

Send your comments to positionit@ee.co.za

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