ITcon Vol. 20, pg. 230-252,

Social BIM: Co-creation with shared situational awareness

revised:February 2015
published:February 2015
editor(s):Rezgui Y
authors:Zulfikar A. Adamu, PhD
Lecturer in Architectural Technology, School of Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough University,

Stephen Emmitt, PhD
Professor of Architectural Practice, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, University of Bath, United Kingdom

Robby Soetanto, PhD
Senior Lecturer in Construction Management, School of Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough University,
summary:A common data environment (CDE) is a specific requirement for Level 2 BIM in the UK in accordance with BS1192-2007 and PAS1192-2 standards. It is a central repository of BIM data and examples include 4BIM and Autodesk 360. These repositories have some disadvantages:(i) it is after synchronisation or file upload that changes between local and cloud versions of BIM models can be appreciated by remote teams; (ii) there is a cost associated with subscribing to these servers, which could marginalise SMEs wanting to adopt BIM; and (iii) during the design phase, these systems do not permit real-time co-creation capabilities or audio- visual consensus amongst designers. So although these repositories are helpful technologies, it is people who collaborate (not systems) and in the design phase, audio-visual feedback and consensus can augment the collaboration experience and outcomes. With socio-technical input, the quality of BIM data/models generated by team members can be enhanced (and clashes minimised) if visual isolation is eliminated.This research presents a framework and proof-of-concept which redefines Social BIM (SBIM) as a socio- technical mode of BIM that enriches the co-creation process for Levels 2 and 3 BIM. It enables ‘shared situational awareness’ by empowering remote participants with visual and remote control of BIM models using GoToMeeting as a ‘groupware’. The BIM data was hosted by surrogate servers linked to cloud-based storage. A quasi-experiment through a desktop sharing and communication system enabled 14 globally dispersed participants to control the graphical user interface (GUI) of a host PC in the UK running Autodesk Revit. Four audio-visual collaboration protocols were developed and three were tested. Participants interacted via the host PC remotely using computers (which acted as nomadic servers) and with mobile devices. Remote desktop/laptop users had unlimited control of the data in host PC, while real-time audio-visual communication improved the collaboration and co-creation of 3D BIM models. The experience of participants in editing BIM models was a function of internet bandwidth, hardware and operating systems. Unitary optimisation of modelling efforts/outcomes was possible on shared/coordination models. Divisible optimisation of industry-specific tasks (i.e. architectural, engineering and management) by participants was enhanced by feedback which was either on-demand (requested) or just-in-time (spontaneous).
keywords:Social BIM, desktop sharing, real-time collaboration, BIM maturity, shared situational awareness, surrogate server, Level 2 BIM
full text: (PDF file, 1.353 MB)
citation:Adamu ZA, Emmitt S, Soetanto R (2015). Social BIM: Co-creation with shared situational awareness, ITcon Vol. 20, pg. 230-252,