Developing a Cloud-Based Virtual Community Model
This study aims to develop an innovative cloud-based virtual community that integrates BIM networks with traditional collaboration platforms. Effective networks are ideal for involving BIM professionals in virtual community engagement. The cloud-based BIM virtual community not only assembles BIM professionals from the world but also stimulates real-time communication and collaboration for BIM projects. The coalition of BIM professionals in the virtual community supports communication, information exchange and knowledge sharing for BIM projects. In addition, the established BIM networks can facilitate sourcing of BIM talents from the globe and is useful to manage staffing resources by client effectively. Based on the personal profile of each network member, all network members can be classified intelligently under different BIM competencies according to their BIM skills, experiences and qualifications. The BIM networks can serve as an intelligent talent pool that can facilitate planning and management of staffing resources for BIM projects. Moreover, with the embedment of the BIM networks to the collaboration platform, BIM professionals from around the globe can connect and interact with each other to exchange information, promote new BIM ideas, and establish common BIM interest. The BIM networks that integrate with traditional collaboration platform are committed to establishing communication linkages within the BIM virtual community and have the ability to create many distant relationships. Through the interaction and communication within the virtual community, network members’ creativity can be enriched through the BIM related interactivities. In addition, expert tools can be built in the virtual community by exhibiting new trend of BIM knowledge and technology shared by the members around the globe. The ultimate goal arising from the virtual community is the construction of intelligent hub which aligns individual BIM professionals to produce collaborative intelligence in future BIM projects. Additionally, the BIM virtual community makes use of cloud-based platform for data storage. Cloud computing is quickly becoming the next trend in computer technology and its concept is about the delivery of computing services from a remote location. Many studies realise the advantages of cloud adoption such as efficiency, accessibility, collaboration, rapidity of innovation and reliability (Figliola and Fischer 2015). Nowadays a lot of organisations are increasingly realising its benefits by placing their applications and data into cloud server. A great number of data from global BIM professionals are collected to
develop the BIM virtual community. The data include shared documents between network members, user profiles, drawings, videos, photos, etc. As such, cloud servers can relief the burden of local data storage and maintenance. Further, the BIM networks within the virtual community also vary in the extent to which they incorporate new BIM information and apply communication tools, such as mobile connectivity, blogging, wikis, chat and photo/video-sharing. Thus, BIM network members in cloud-based platform can be assessed from anywhere, at any time and with any device. Figure 5.2 demonstrates the model of the cloud-based BIM virtual community.
The virtual community comprises the BIM networks and several collaboration platforms for concurrent BIM projects. The BIM project participants are the network members who are connected within the BIM networks. Project experience and knowledge of each network member can be shared through the BIM networks and e-learning. Network members can build relationship through the BIM networks and such relationship can enhance the collaboration in the individual BIM projects. The BIM networks also can serve as a talent pool to facilitate recruitment of competent BIM professionals. Under a cloud-based platform, multiple network members can work on the same BIM document at the same time, and the BIM documents are stored on remote servers in the cloud. In short, establishment of the BIM virtual community is a driving force for collaborative BIM implementation and a new solution for BIM workforce in the construction market. The developed virtual community not only enables the newly recruited BIM professionals to enrich the network in turn but also cultivates new knowledge and idea to enhance the performance of collaboration platforms adopted for BIM projects. Thus, any organisations pursuing BIM in construction can benefit from the virtual community in the perspectives of BIM project management and BIM talent recruitment. In long term, BIM evolution in the slow BIM development countries can be significantly improved and they can keep pace with some leading practice countries.
Author and Graphic: C.W. Keung, Proceedings of the 21st International Symposium on Advancement of Construction Management and Real Estate, Editors: K.W. Chau • Isabelle Y.S. Chan Weisheng Lu • Chris Webster, 2018
Photo: Made in PropTech Switzerland