Building a safety case: The Trojan horse for digital asset optimisation

by Dr Melanie Robinson | May 12 6, 2023 | 3 min read

Building a safety case: The Trojan horse for digital asset optimisation
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Once upon a time, the ancient city of Troy was under siege by the Greeks who were on a mission to rescue the beautiful Helen of Troy, who had been kidnapped by the Trojan Prince.

When it became clear they were never going to win on sheer brute force alone from outside the city walls, the Greeks came up with a different plan – to offer an apparent victory gift to their foes. The soldiers constructed a large wooden horse from their ships and left it at the gates of Troy.

The Trojans, believing they had won the war, joyfully brought the horse inside the city walls. However, unbeknownst to them, Greek soldiers were concealed within the hollow belly of the horse. During the night, the hidden soldiers emerged, opened the city gates from within, and allowed the Greek army to enter Troy. The Greeks sacked the city, effectively ending the war and achieving victory.

So why am I telling you tales from Greek mythology?

Well, the legendary Trojan Horse has become somewhat of an iconic metaphor, typically used to describe something that looks like it will serve one purpose, but in truth serves another.

This is how I see the role of the Golden Thread, an integral by product of the Building Safety Act 2022, and its relationship to better information management (the emerging alternative acronym to building information modelling!).

Similar to how the Greeks used the Trojan Horse to infiltrate Troy and achieve their objectives, the Golden Thread can serve as a mechanism to introduce more efficient and effective information management systems in the realm of building safety. While the primary focus may be mitigating building safety risks surrounding the spread of fire and structural failure, the Golden Thread (and therefore the Act) promotes the structured collection, organisation and accessibility of building-related data.

This is particularly relevant to the residential sector, one of the key targets of the Act. The Farmer Report stated: Despite Building Information Modelling (BIM) being a critical change agent for the industry […] there appears to also be a large scale reality gap related to the industry’s BIM adoption strategy. The government’s own measures to lead this agenda as a client of the industry have not reached significant parts of the design and construction world, which unfortunately includes the majority of housebuilders and private developers.

Sectors that have traditionally been slower to embrace digital information management now have to build and maintain their Golden Thread as part of their legislative obligations.

Whilst this doesn’t necessarily require a full bells and whistles BIM approach, it still requires a change in mindset in how information is procured and managed, not just during delivery, but also during occupation and operation. It is demanding the implementation of standardised protocols for data and information.

If done correctly, the Act can be a Trojan Horse: while its focus is on safety and compliance, it holds the potential to bring about a shift in mindset and practices, encouraging stakeholders to recognize the value of comprehensive and well-managed information, ultimately enhancing not only building safety, but also efficiency and sustainability.

By leveraging the act’s regulations and requirements, stakeholders can unlock hidden benefits and embrace more data driven approaches to managing and maintaining assets.

But remember, this heroic transformation relies on the dedication and collaboration of all involved.

The Act provides the foundation and the impetus, but it is up to clients and industry professionals to seize the opportunity and fully harness the transformative power of improved asset management.

If you want to know more, I will be expanding on this topic during my session at Digital Construction Week at 11.30am on Wednesday 17 May: Building a safety case: The Trojan horse for digital asset optimisation.

About the author

Dr Melanie Robinson

Associate, BIM Academy

Melanie is an Associate at BIM Academy, specialising in building information modelling (BIM) and information management according to ISO 19650.

Melanie manages several projects across multiple sectors globally, and works closely with international clients to develop digital strategies for project and asset management.

Melanie’s specialisms include change management, standardisation and digital collaboration, and she acts as a Regional Lead for Women in BIM (WIB).

Melanie holds a PhD from Edinburgh Napier University (ENU) which looked into the micro-level factors to an effective macro-level diffusion of BIM, including the gap between perceived and actual efficacy of BIM understanding and skills. She is also an award-winning graduate of ENU’s Architectural Technology programme, having obtained a first-class Honours degree in 2015.

Melanie Robinson