About the Project


About this project

Information modelling techniques such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) and City Information Modelling (CIM) offer great potential to aspiring smart cities, making services more effective and supporting community participation. Definitions of smart cities vary, but a common thread between most smart city initiatives is the desire to roll out digital technology beyond buildings and sites to cities and regions, opening up opportunities for better stakeholder engagement and shaping urban development. However, as our previous research on urban planning and future cities development shows, despite the dominance of the smart city leitmotiv in urban development strategies, many cities have not prepared for a digital future by making use of BIM or CIM. There is also a lack of awareness around questions of data security, which governments must address as the digital transformation spreads to the built environment.

In the UK, the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) was tasked by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy with acting as the custodian of the UK BIM Programme’s integrity, and strategising for the UK’s digital future. BIM is a key part of the UK’s Digital Built Britain Strategy, which aims ‘to create a digitally enabled information landscape which will allow the optimisation of the built environment throughout the construction, manufacturing, maintenance, operations and decommissioning phases’ (1). In support of CDBB’s work, this project aims to identify the planning issues at which CIM and BIM could best be targeted, examine what digital information is commonly available in UK cities or what new information can be retrieved from the built environment through BIM, and how this data can complement or enable CIM in the UK. Second, the project examines why cities and public stakeholders are not engaging with BIM and CIM, barriers to uptake, and how the urban planning system can help to overcome existing obstacles. Third, the project identifies the challenges surrounding data privacy and security, and points to strategies for addressing these concerns. In this context, the project explores BIM and CIM’s longer term implications and possibilities for society and citizens, investigating how to make BIM and CIM responsible, effective and sustainable for future city development.

(1) Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction and IfM Education and Consulting Services (CSIC) (2017) Digital Built Britain. A study for the Future Cities Catapult, University of Cambridge.