Security and BIM Level 2

Jason Unsworth, General Manager GB at STANLEY Security, looks at BIM Level 2 accreditation and what it means for security

No doubt Building Information Modelling (BIM) is well known to you across its different levels, but what direct relevance does it have to electronic security systems? Security companies have been working at BIM Level 1 for a while, but few have moved to Level 2; after all, isn’t 3D modelling overkill when it comes to a straightforward security system?

Well firstly there is genuine demand from the construction sector for BIM Level 2 in the security sector. Why? The answer, it would seem, lies in two key areas: the benefits of 3D modelling when designing a security system and the asset management and maintenance benefits that come from adopting the COBie data format which has become integral to BIM Level 2.

3D Modelling

Let’s start with 3D modelling. Firstly, for the system designer it’s really quick, being a simple drag and drop modelling process rather than the more laborious 2D CAD drawing. This also makes it much easier to make changes to system design and even try out new ideas. For the customer, it results in a fast turnaround time.

Secondly, it enables quicker, more accurate decision making: seeing a security system in a building in 3D is more engaging and intuitive and easier to use than a 2D CAD drawing. Things get missed in drawings, especially if the person is not familiar with these types of documents. When this is applied to CCTV systems, the results are especially beneficial as you can actually see the camera view, including the focal lengths and where the blind spots are. It’s not quite Virtual Reality, but it’s the next best thing! This makes for the most effective security system design and a smooth installation as the installer knows exactly where each piece of kit will go on site, resulting in a first time fix, rather than having to address unforeseen installation issues as they proceed.

Asset Management and COBie

The adoption of COBie is the other leading factor in the drive to move security to BIM Level 2.

As a reminder, COBie is a non-proprietary data format for the publication of a subset of BIM focused on delivering asset data, as opposed to geometric information. In any construction project there are large numbers of specialist contractors and trades working on a variety of aspects of the building. The information on every aspect of the building’s design and construction needs to be stored in a central repository and kept up to date, ready for hand over to the client. But this process can be very hit and miss, with data often supplied in a variety of different formats and in separate files, making it difficult to manage. COBie aims to put an end to that, ensuring that all the key information is in one uniform format and shared between the construction team at defined stages in a project. This is, typically, a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, but other spreadsheet applications may be used.

For the building manager this information is invaluable when it comes to asset management and maintenance. For the security system, every part of the system down to the smallest item is listed and located. If something needs replacing, for example, there’s no rummaging through different files but instead the part number is instantly accessible. Equipment life is clearly listed, so replacements and upgrades can be pre planned. Furthermore, there’s no issue if there are changes in key staff as detailed information on the security system is available to the authorised people and not located in someone’s head or a file on their PC.

Clearly sensitive security information, such as passwords, should not be entered into BIM, so it’s important to determine what information could compromise a security system and needs to be kept as separate documentation.

BIM Level 2: The Holistic Approach

The transition from BIM Level 1 to 2 is a significant one and requires extensive input from manufacturers and service suppliers, from updating operational procedures to learning new methods of working and systems. It’s not an easy transition, but it is an important, worthwhile one that has long term positive impacts for the construction sector. No longer are the different components of a building and its systems designed in semi isolation. BIM Level 2 offers a more holistic approach, looking at the bigger picture for a healthier outcome.