The Dewey Decimal System was first published in 1876 in those simpler times before BIM. Times where information was written down and stored on a shelf. Melvil Dewey’s system has grown and evolved to become the benchmark classification system in most of our libraries today. Imagine trying to find a book in a library where the entire cataloguing system has been deleted. Is this the missing link in Singapore’s BIM implementation journey so far?

The fundamental need for a classification system to catalogue information is just as critical back in 1876 as it is today. With BIM, we are now capable of producing and documenting more data than ever before. Some of it useful and some of perhaps not. But how can we make all this information accessible and meaningful to the widest range of BIM users? From the architect to the contractor and eventually the building owner we need to have a means to categorize information and cross reference it.

Thankfully the answer largely already exists. Looking further afield; the North America has MasterFormat and OmniClass, the UK has Uniclass 1&2, Australia has Natspec. Even before BIM these classification systems have been an integral part of construction industry practice and have evolved overtime to accommodate the vast granularity which as BIM users we need to organize our thoughts.

With a classification system in place it becomes possible to cross link building specifications, products, and materials, into models. Classification systems can also be built into naming conventions for elements and documents. Straight out of the box Revit is already by default coded for Omniclass integration. By no means are these systems all user friendly and easy to understand. It will take time for any of these systems to become common place if you aren’t already in a community using one of these systems. I think it’s probably a good problem to have if your debate is about having too many systems to choose from rather than no system at all. One day we can discuss how to rationalize MasterFormat, Omniclass, Uniclass, and Natspec into a single unified platform. Pie in the sky thinking?

But if BIM collaboration and BIM to FM is going to work; we need this common language if we want a chance of finding and understanding this amazing wealth of BIM data in generations to come.

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