Cloud BIM Technology: Collaboration and Project Integration

In the dynamic world of Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC),
collaboration is the linchpin that holds together the intricate web of design, construction,
and facility management. As the industry continues to evolve, the adoption of Building
Information Modeling (BIM) has become instrumental in streamlining workflows and
fostering better coordination. In this digital age, cloud-based BIM platforms emerge as a
transformative force, promising real-time updates and global team coordination. Let’s
delve into the advantages and challenges of leveraging these platforms for collaborative
BIM work.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) was created to address the Architecture,
Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry’s lack of collaboration among
consultants. Advances in cloud BIM have led to the easy exchange of data and
real-time collaboration among consultants from conceptual design to the detailed
construction drawing stage and through the project life cycle. This is critical in the
development of smart cities. Cloud BIM also facilitates visualization of the city and data
exchange for the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart city development involves incorporating
data from sensors and hardware attached to existing infrastructure. This article studies
cloud BIM technology as a means of project integration in smart city development.
Benefits include seamless communication, monitoring real-time progress, and
visualization of files. Problems encountered include governance problems, problems
preserving work sets, the integrity of drawings, and difficulty specifying coordinates

Cloud-Based BIM Technology

Cloud-Based Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology is emerging as a
transformative force, marking the second phase of BIM growth in Architecture,
Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry. This evolution, as highlighted by Wang et
al. (2014), is poised to bring about significant changes in the construction sector,
introducing a wave of advancements that transcend geographical boundaries.

The development of cloud BIM is a catalyst for collaborative BIM data generation and
consumption, promoting efficiency in planning throughout the lifespan of a project
(Porwal & Hewage, 2013). The integration of cloud and mobile technologies is a key
driver of technological advancement, providing on-site accessibility and real-time
tracking of construction activities (Wang et al., 2014).

Notable benefits of cloud BIM technology include ease of access, efficient storage
management, and high-performance computing capabilities (Alreshidi et al., 2018).
Applications such as BIM Explorer, BIMcloud, Autodesk’s A360, BIM 360, BIMServer,
ONUMA System, Trimble Quadri, and Trimble Connect exemplify the diverse landscape
of cloud BIM tools available (Afsari et al., 2016).

Wang’s study emphasizes the real-time tracking of construction, collaboration, clash
monitoring, and information sharing among construction team members, transcending
geographic constraints (Wang et al., 2014). However, it notes a concentration on design
and development phases, leaving room for exploration in post-construction activities like
operation, facility management, and energy analysis.

Taxonomy of Cloud-Based BIM Technology

The essence of cloud-based BIM technology lies in its integration with the fundamental
principles of cloud computing, as outlined by Jain and Gujral (2014) and Zhang et al.
(2010). In this taxonomy, cloud computing architecture unfolds across four
layers—hardware, infrastructure, platform, and application—forming a dynamic network
of resources accessible ubiquitously and on-demand (Clohessy et al., 2014). The layers
progress from the foundational hardware to the end-user application, providing a
comprehensive framework for efficient service delivery. Cloud computing’s ability to
manage and allocate computing resources seamlessly aligns with the core tenets of
BIM, facilitates collaborative BIM data generation and consumption, as noted by Afsari
et al. (2016). Notable benefits include ease of access, storage manageability, and
high-performance computing capabilities (Alreshidi et al., 2018). This architectural
diversity in cloud computing, as highlighted by Chamoso et al. (2018), underscores its
adaptability to various data model requirements, laying the groundwork for a
transformative era in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) collaboration.

Cloud-Based BIM Governance

Collaborative governance was established as a modern governing approach in recent
years. This approach attempts to bring various stakeholders to a shared platform to
reach a consensus (Alreshidi et al., 2018). Collaborative BIM servers have various
technical requirements, such as “a central model repository linked to other federated
data repositories; a variety of spaces for public and private models; global unique
identifier (GUID) for object identification; information delivery manuals (IDM)-based
specifications; [and] secure access to the model” (Singh et al., 2011, p.141). However,
in addition to the cloud infrastructure, a governance framework should be created to
support the processing of data created during construction. Socio-organizational and
legal standards for project management should be established as cloud BIM provides
various stakeholders with exposure to project data (Alreshidi et al., 2018).

Challenges to Cloud BIM Implementation

As the AEC industry steers towards the integration of cloud-based Building Information
Modeling (BIM), faces a spectrum of challenges that demand careful consideration.
Mahamadu et al. (2013) shed light on key hurdles, including issues of access
authorization, information sharing boundaries, and legal and contract limitations,
creating a climate of scepticism among consultants about relying on cloud BIM for
collaborative efforts. Alreshidi et al. (2018) pinpoint the cost implications of initial setup,
maintenance, and training as significant obstacles to widespread BIM adoption.
Moreover, the dependency of cloud BIM on a stable internet connection proves to be a
stumbling block, particularly in developing nations where consistent internet access is
not a guarantee. In the context of smart city development, the challenges persist as the
integration of various technologies, such as handheld scanners, geospatial artificial
intelligence, unmanned aerial vehicles, and geospatial augmented reality applications,
introduces complexities in data integration (Shirowzhan et al., 2020). This intricate task
underscores the need for cohesive strategies to harmonize the wealth of data collected.
Resistance to the adoption of cloud BIM, a typical hurdle with any emerging technology,
is further exacerbated by principles related to market readiness, technology acceptance,
and implementation mechanisms (Shirowzhan et al., 2020). As the industry grapples
with these challenges, the call for further research becomes apparent, urging a deeper
understanding and innovative solutions to propel the seamless integration of cloud BIM
into the fabric of modern AEC practices.


In conclusion, the journey through Cloud-Based Building Information Modeling (BIM)
technology has been both illuminating and challenging. The taxonomy of Cloud-Based
BIM technology, emphasizing collaboration, project integration, and governance,
provides a framework for understanding its multifaceted role in revolutionizing the
Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry. The challenges associated
with Cloud BIM implementation, such as access authorization, cost considerations,
internet dependency, and resistance to adoption, underscore the complexity of
integrating cutting-edge technologies into established practices. Despite these
challenges, the potential for enhanced collaboration, real-time data sharing, and project
efficiency is undeniable. As the AEC industry navigates these hurdles, the call for further
research and innovative solutions becomes imperative. Cloud BIM stands as a
transformative force, offering a glimpse into the future of collaborative and integrated
project management, albeit with the need for strategic governance and adept handling
of implementation challenges to fully unlock its promises.

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