Ok we described COBie as fundamentally sound but broken, previously. The fact is, that is not exactly true. You see all of the ie’s coming out as of late are all broken, it’s not just COBie. Why? To answer that question; you first have to ask yourself, “what does an ie do?” Let us look to NIBS as they are the ones getting all of the information exchanges together:
Okay we see there are over 10 and they all address something different, and nine are authored by or co-authored by one owner and adopted by NIBS. To us, first off, we would rather see a true consensus of industry participants; mainly from the owner’s side, on how to handle information in the OPEX phase; and design and construction professionals on how to handle information in the design, procure, and assemble phases. Yet with all of this information we still don’t have a definition.
So what does an ie do? Let us look to the National Health Information Network (NHIN) and their definition of a health information exchange (HIE):
“Health information exchange (HIE) is the transmission of healthcare-related data among facilities, health information organizations (HIO) and government agencies according to national standards. HIE is an integral component of the health information technology (HIT) infrastructure under development in the United States and the associated National Health Information Network (NHIN).
To meet requirements, HIE technology must enable reliable and secure transfer of data among diverse systems and also facilitate access and retrieval data. The purpose of HIE development is to improve healthcare delivery and information gathering.”
Okay now let us transpose some words and see how it reads.
X information exchange (XIE) is the transmission of (insert your type here) data among facilities, practitioners and owners according to national standards. XIE is an integral component of the Building Information Modeling information technology (BIMIT) infrastructure under development in the United States and the associated National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS).
To meet requirements, XIE technology must enable reliable and secure transfer of data among diverse systems and also facilitate access and retrieval data. The purpose of XIE development is to improve facility delivery and information gathering.
Notice the italicized text. Not many changes and a pretty clear overall description. It doesn’t get into the weeds of how to do it or means and methods. What this implies is that these exchanges really happen in the background without the user knowing how the data was harvested. Yet in order to implement information exchanges in the AEC industry, one needs to understand how to change their process; to populate the data for each ie that will be used. The software providers have yet to make this happen behind the scenes so one program talk to another.
Do you think nurses and doctors know how a Health information exchange (HIE) works or how the data is transferred? One of the biggest problems I have seen with all of the information exchanges lately is that in the BIM world, it is not something that happens innately within the software. Take for example Apple and Microsoft. I can open and edit a word document on my Mac using Apple's software. I don't need to know how it does it; just that it does. I can do the same on my work machine, windows-based, and there is no loss of data. It all remains and is editable.
But the BIM IE's don't seem to be working that way. For whatever reasons, every BIM IE requires workarounds and spreadsheets and a whole lot of extra work on the part of the user in order to make them function. This is because they were built in a lab setting, not taking into account the actual users. It would be like if the HIE's were built so that the Doctor's and Nurses needed to do all kinds of work-arounds to make them function, but were never consulted on how they needed them to operate.
In order for information exchanges in BIM to function, they need to operate in the background and not require extra effort by the end user to implement. If 90% of BIM is Social, then data is the biggest social impact from BIM. Once we can control the exchange of data in a non-intrusive way, we have created the long sought after seamless transition of data across all disciplines and BIM uses.