Winnie-the-Pooh & BIM Level 2

A.A. Milne wrote using his very best Winnie-the-Pooh’s voice:     

“It’s very, very funny,
‘Cos I know I had some honey,
‘Cos it had a label on,
Saying HUNNY.”

I grew up on these book’s and in fact Winnie-the-Pooh was one of the first books I read by myself as a child just for the love of reading, today I read international & national standards, Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR) and contracts, with not a Piglet in sight.

But the above quote made me think of labels, it seems to me we live in a world where everything has to be labelled and categorised. Via social media this extends to an obsessive need to have a hashtag for everything from the coffee you drink, to how you are feeling, to your gender and sexual preferences. Before social media junkies start tweeting #whatrubbish or worst, let me expand and explain my point of view in more than 280 characters.

We have so many labels and acronyms in our industry associated with information management from BIM and EIRs to Digital Twins, it often feels like a brand new language that is changing all the time. These labels do have a use and are often associated with a definition, a concept or framework to assist us, but in my opinion we are currently in Eeyore's damp dark and gloomy place. We have projects across our industry requiring BIM, BIM Level 2, PAS 1192:2 (now withdrawn), ISO 19650, etc. and we are in that transitional phase as we move from the old to the new, which can add to the confusion. I do believe the outlook is bright and positive but as an industry, we now need to adopt a pragmatic view and not be overly critical if someone writes HUNNY instead of HONEY, because often we are aiming for the same goal or referring to the same or similar thing, in Pooh’s case a thick, golden liquid produced by industrious bees.

Today, I often get asked “Is BIM Level 2 dead or does it still exist now we have the new ISO 19650 standards?” My response being pragmatic is very simply, “Yes, it is still around and being referenced”. The label still exists across industry and is being actively used by UK Government departments, for example The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government consultations, focusing on the reform of the building safety regulatory system references BIM Level 2 five times, in a report that was published in June 2019, six months after the publication of ISO 19650. We now have the UK BIM Framework which does make reference to BIM Level 2 by explaining that Section 4 of ISO 19650-1 provides a short explanation of ‘BIM according to the ISO 19650 series’ (also known as ‘Stage 2’), and PD 19650-0 further explains that it consists of BIM Level 2, with elements of BIM Level 1 and BIM Level 3 (using the 1192 suite terminology). The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland published a guide to BIM Level 2 in January 2019 and The Royal Institute of British Architects have recently updated the Digital Plan of Works to 2020 which still references BIM Level 2 but maybe more in past tense.

Hopefully you can now see why HONEY and HUNNY resonated so much with me? Academically we could propose that using the label BIM Level 2 is not correct and Stage 2 should be used to align to ISO 19650 terms. But, if BIM Level 2 is just a label and the contents of that HONEY jar are the standards and specifications, then they still exist but most have not been updated to ISO 19650 status yet, so maybe we have two jars one labelled HONEY containing PAS/British Standards and one labelled HUNNY containing ISO Standards and national standards?

The above situation makes it interesting when supporting projects as an Employers Advisor, Information Manager or providing education within Workshops or Training Courses. We know there are projects starting today that request BIM Level 2, reference PAS 1192-2 and other out-of-date and withdrawn standards, as well as ISO 19650 so we must be considerate and try to account for all eventualities. As Employers Advisors and Information Managers we recommend the adoption of ISO 19650, but often when we are employed as Project Information Managers we have to consider the PAS 1192 terms and processes, and when providing education it would be far too easy to ignore older standards and just always focus on ISO 19650, but that would be unhelpful to delegates who may need to understand the older standards because that is what their Clients are asking for in EIRs on current projects. So, our approach currently is to cover all bases and explain the differences between PAS/BS and ISO standards as applicable, as well as facilitating ISO 19650 focused courses. Over time I am sure we will all refer to Stage 2 and ISO 19650 but for now let’s all try to stay calm and be tolerant as we transition.

Thank you for reaching the end of this blog, I hope it was entertaining as well as thought provoking and I don’t know about you but all this talk of Honey and Hunny has made me feel rather hungry and  just like Pooh Bear I'm so “rumbly in my tumbly”, time for lunch.

If you would like more information on BIM Management or ISO 19650, please call 0345 370 1444 or email