BIM risks and benefits are aired at CIBSE conference

Published:  03 December, 2015

BIM, building information modelling, security

aBusinesses in the future need to think hard about who is given information about a building via systems such as BIM (Building Information Modelling). That was a major concern expressed at CIBSE’s Building Performance Conference last month (November). Concerns were expressed about how much ancillary information contractors might have that could one day be exploited and how easy it is to access detailed BIM information that could make a building vulnerable. People, as well as technology, need to be treated as a security problem.

Ian Ellis of Siemens stressed that ever-more complicated systems accessible from anywhere in the world are making buildings increasingly vulnerable to ‘bored student’ hackers who can take advantage of security lapses to infiltrate a BMS system. While this may only mean turning off lights and raising temperatures, this could be dangerous for controlled environments which must maintain constant conditions.

Conversely, Andrew Sieradski, head of security at Buro Happold, cited the huge potential of technology such as BIM to optimise building performance through security. By inputting information about equipment into a data-management system, computers can automatically identify the best camera resolution, the amount of necessary data storage and the optimum temperature at which to cool it. This provides savings in time for the designer, and ensures the system will perform better throughout its life.

However, all speakers were agreed that security must be a primary consideration for designers. Ian Ellis of Siemens said, ‘People know the potential risk associated with security. What is necessary is to make security a priority that is introduced into the design as early as possible.’

Hugh Boyes, associate fellow of the Cyber Security Centre at the University of Warwick, advised that securing BIM is down to people and processes as much as technology. Making sure that only those who need to know have access to all the sensitive data is a must, as are the processes for securing that data and revoking access after construction is complete.

The very real benefits of BIM were shared by Warwick Stannus of Australia’s Association of Mechanical Engineers. He described how part of Australia’s impressive progress on closing the ‘performance gap’ is down to collecting and presenting useful data from systems like BIM so that it can be used to optimise building performance. His key advice was that only by efficiently collecting, storing and delivering building and facilities management data to the right people can we make performance gains.

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