ISO 19650 in the Middle East: The Role of a Common Data Environment

In our first instalment we explored how ISO 19650 is changing the AECO Industry in the Middle East. By adopting Building Information Modelling (BIM) practices and the technologies that power it, construction teams can improve how information is managed across an entire project lifecycle; from start to finish. By adhering to ISO 19650 standards, the industry in the Middle East is empowered to work in collaborative processes; it outlines best practices for managing information within the Built Environment, encompassing buildings, infrastructure, and their components.

Mandates in the Middle East: Where are we now?

BIM mandates are regulations or policies requiring the use of BIM technology and processes for planning and executing infrastructure projects. Governments enforce them to ensure that construction projects are completed more efficiently and cost-effectively.

If anything, the region was an early adopter to BIM standards. In 2014, Dubai’s municipality mandated that BIM be used in large projects of 40 storeys or more, or 300,000 square feet and higher. Five years later, Abu Dhabi followed, and BIM was mandated by the city authority for all major construction projects in 2019.

Since then, organisations and projects in the Middle East have continued to develop their BIM capabilities. However, companies across the region are looking to countries with more developed industry practices, like the UK. For example, the Red Sea Development Company received the BIM Project Kitemark from the British Standards Institution (BSI) for its digital project delivery and BIM adoption aligned with ISO 19650.

Getting Started with ISO 19650: Establish a Common Data Environment (CDE)?

A CDE is a workflow supported by a technology solution or solutions. It should be implemented to create a single source of information used to collect, manage, and disseminate documentation, as well as the graphical model and non-graphical data for the whole project team.

A CDE connects teams, companies, and project owners, offering a more sophisticated, seamless, and efficient way to share information. Typically, a project team passes information between groups and team members as needed, using many different systems and software platforms. This can make it challenging to ensure that each team member has the most accurate and up-to-date information at the right time and can lead to costly mistakes created by errors in manual information exchange processes.

In contrast, using a CDE, the information flows through a central repository, which can be more easily controlled and kept up to date. To ensure security and reliability, information flow can be gated by mechanisms that ensure that construction documents and other information such as mark-ups and issues are only available when appropriate.

“We, at Khatib & Alami, decided to implement ISO 19650 standards because they aligned with our vision for enhanced quality and client satisfaction. By establishing a common data environment with a secure workflow and a clear framework for data standardization and responsibilities, these standards enhance risk management, security, and the quality of information." says Micheline Nader, Senior Manager, BIM & Digital design at Khatib & Alami

Using a CDE can mitigate common challenges during the design, construction and handoff processes, including problems with integrating software solutions, data loss, costly rework due to poor project data and time spent looking for information.

Redcon Construction: A Common Data Environment in Action

Redcon Construction is one of Egypt’s leading and largest engineering, construction and infrastructure firms. It specialises in large-scale public and private sector projects, and employs close to 3,000 people.

Nafea Ahmed is the Building Information Modelling (BIM) manager in Polar Management, the project management arm of Redcon. Nafea works on Redcon’s extensive Golden Gate project, a landmark mixed-use development of five interconnected districts over 161,000 sq m in Cairo. His role involves co-ordinating a complex network of more than 15 design and construction stakeholders.

The multidisciplinary team began using standardised processes and schedules in an integrated Common Data Environment (CDE) within the Autodesk Construction Cloud platform.

“It worked really well and was totally compatible,” says El Sarha. “We were able to implement it easily across every stage in the project from the conception design to the construction.”

When it came to creating manuals and standards for the Golden Gate project – needed to inform the work, manage standards implementation and align data management for every stakeholder – Redcon and Polar used ISO 19650 as their reference.

“We made sure every design and construction stakeholder produced clear data in line with the guidelines, with all data being easily accessible to each team. The common naming conventions really help when it comes to filtering data and the overall quality of execution."

The benefits of standardisation don’t end there, he adds: “We’re also now developing audit standards following on from this work, and we’re also gaining valuable data and insights that we can implement in future on other projects.”

Discover how ISO 19650 is changing the AECO industry in the Middle East

Osama Abdulhadi