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Transforming the construction industry

Governments worldwide are drawing up national initiatives to encourage the adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and digital technologies within the construction sector. Blazing a trail in this field of research, Dr Mohamad Kassem at Northumbria University, has created new and innovative conceptual models and tools to guide BIM adoption and digital transformation policies. This groundbreaking work has become a benchmark for policy makers worldwide, including Brazil and Mexico, where his government advisories have enabled the development of national BIM roadmaps, yielding major economic and social benefits.


The construction industry is on the verge of a technological revolution. It is starting to embrace digital technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), a collaborative way of working across the project’s life-cycle, from design and construction to operation and maintenance. This holistic approach has shown to increase productivity, improve project control, reduce costs and result in higher quality design.


Policy makers both in the UK and worldwide have long sought to support the industry in embracing digital technologies such as BIM and cutting-edge research is now helping them in this endeavour. Dr Kassem, Associate Professor in Mechanical and Construction Engineering and Director of Enterprise and Engagement at Northumbria University, is developing novel and innovative constructs and tools for assisting policy makers in creating new digital transformation policies and initiatives. This work, in addition to his research on the value and implementation of BIM in project processes and facilities management, is helping to spearhead a digital paradigm shift within construction.


Importantly, Dr Kassem’s research is having a major impact at the policy level. His assessment of BIM maturity of several countries including Egypt, Hong Kong, Ireland, Russia, Spain and Peru became the first international standard for BIM maturity. This benchmark continues to be used by countries around the world to identify policy gaps and promote policy learning.


Furthermore, in his capacity as an advisor to the Brazilian and Mexican governments, Dr Kassem developed national BIM roadmaps and performed a market-wide assessment of BIM maturity for Latin America and the Caribbean. “This work contributed to an increase in adoption of digital tools and processes across markets and projects,” explains Dr Kassem. “It resulted in economic and social benefits in the form of improved performance of projects delivery and assets operation, sales of digital solutions, new employments and improved job prospects, and saving duplicated efforts and avoiding gaps in digital transformation policies.”


In other work, Dr Kassem advised on the status of BIM adoption for countries including Egypt, Hong Kong, Korea, Russia and Spain. In addition, his research on the digitalisation of project processes and asset operation has been key for the successful delivery of BIM Academy projects, including at the Sydney Opera House, BAE Systems, Hong Kong Hospital Authority and M+ Museum of Art.


While BIM is starting to gain momentum, much more work is needed at the policy level. Dr Kassem is working with internationally leading BIM scholar Dr Bilal Succar on the launch of a major community-based international effort to develop the first International BIM Policy Guide and an online interactive dashboard for country BIM maturity benchmark. He is also developing a BIM-based digital solution to implement a personalised approach to health and safety training in high-risk asset inspection activities.

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