The Built Environment Technology Manifesto – Part 1

It’s quite a long title that has evolved over the years. I guess you could say I have been thinking about this general idea since the early 1980’s when CAD and GIS were just starting to go mainstream, thanks in large part to the development of the PC. So what is a manifesto?

From Wikipedia:

“A manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually accepts a previously published opinion or public consensus or promotes a new idea with prescriptive notions for carrying out changes the author believes should be made. It often is political or artistic in nature, but may present an individual’s life stance.”

The Communist Manifesto is of course the most famous of the manifesto’s. This is not political. This manifesto is in the category of “a new idea with prescriptive notions for carrying out changes the author believes should be made.”

Since the introduction of the PC virtually all industries have seen significant gains in productivity with one exception – AEC, or what we are now calling the Built Environment.

There are many reasons for this, but near the top of the list is the lack of standards. Whether it is the automotive, computer, music – you name it these industries have realized that they can increase productivity by adhering to industry standards.

So in a highly condensed version this manifesto is a demand for the key players in the industry to join forces to develop the standards that will lead to increased productivity.

What would these standards include? At the very least a unified data model with data interoperability standards is needed. Some of this work is being done in BIM and CAD, but the overall commitment is not there.

Let me know what you think and stay tuned for Part 2.

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4 Responses to The Built Environment Technology Manifesto – Part 1

  1. John Russo says:

    Hey Gene,
    One of the key differences between the industries you cite and the AEC industry is that these industries create something that is designed once and sold many times. This in itself may make it easier for an industry to come to an agreement on standards. Just about every building built is a new and unique design with a few exceptions. Idea for a manifesto though.

    • lidar says:

      Thanks John for the comment. There is certainly truth in what you say, but I think we would both agree that the industry would benefit from software, hardware and data standards, if not building components that are more standard size and modular. I think the AEC industry, in general has used this argument as an excuse for too long, but it is buyer side of the equation that actually bears as much responsibility for not demanding and mandating change. More to come in Part 2.

  2. Stu Rich says:

    Hi Gene,

    No question that the AEC industry lags far behind most others when it comes to leveraging technology to drive productivity growth. That said, I am not sure the causal factor is a lack of standards. There are lots of standards out there. What has been missing in my view is a set of consistent business processes and interoperability tools that enable easier collaboration across disciplines. If you look at what Trimble is doing with Trimble Connect and Autodesk with BIM 360, you see the technology maturing to enable this kind of collaboration. The AEC firms that recognize this opportunity first will have a significant advantage over their competition.

    My two cents…


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