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ISO 19650: the UK National Annex updates

Last month (February), the UK National Annex for ISO 19650-2:2018 was updated and released in BS EN ISO 19650-2:2018 & Revised NA. Read on for the key changes and potential impacts on your digital delivery.

The UK National Annex aims to expand on the generic contents of ISO 19650 and make it specific to the UK. Together with the updated National Annex, the UK BIM Framework has also released an updated guidance document to clarify the changes, further details can be found here.

Why the National Annex needed a revision

The previous National Annex came out in 2018 together with ISO 19650 Part 2. Since then, the engineering and construction community has given feedback asking for clarification. The new revision of the National Annex aims to address this feedback. Some of the reasons that made this revision necessary were:

  • Use of outdated terminology from the withdrawn 1192 series (volumes, etc.).
  • Unclear application of the field ID for information containers.
  • Ambiguity in the application of some “type” codes within the field ID.
  • Uncertainty in the definition of the “originator” role for information containers.
  • Unclear definition of role codes for originators.
  • Uncertainty about the purpose of the status codes A1, A2, etc.

The National Annex and the field ID

The 2021 UK National Annex makes it clear that the information container field ID only applies to files. The old National Annex did not make this distinction. Before, the Annex was unclear as to whether the field ID also applied to layers, directories or objects. Thanks to the new revision, this ambiguity has been removed. The 2021 National Annex also removed the recommended limit on field lengths for the information container ID. The new revision only mentions a recommendation to keep them as short as possible. The ultimate requirements for each project should be defined in the project’s information standard.

Changes to the originator purpose code

When it comes to the originator code, the feedback from the industry showed uncertainty about who this code should represent. Some professionals thought that it should reflect the name of the task team (a sub-contractor, for example). Others were of the opinion that it should reflect the lead appointed party. The 2021 National Annex clarifies that the originator code must represent the organisation of the information author, as identified in a TIDP.

The reason is that although the lead appointed party is accountable for the production of information as agreed in its MIDP, each appointed party is responsible for generating the information assigned to it. Therefore, rather than the lead appointed party (the principal contractor, for example) being the originator of all information under their control, the originator code will represent the actual organisation generating the information (a steelwork fabricator, for example).

Revised terms in the 2021 National Annex

The field name “volume/system” has been replaced with “functional breakdown”. The word “volume” disappears because the ISO 19650 series does not give a definition for it. The word “system” was also removed because it had different meanings depending on the source. The term “functions” can relate to either volumes or systems. Additionally, the field name “spatial breakdown” replaces the old “levels/locations”. This seems to have more sense and give more flexibility, as both levels and locations refer to space. The new field name can break the information containers per locations and levels, but also sections, elevations, connections, chainage, etc.

A focus on form and discipline

The form identifier in the 2021 National Annex refers exclusively to the presentation form of the information. In the old National Annex, it was confusing as to whether the form code should reflect the form or the content. For example, a 3D topographic survey could be a survey (SU code) but also a 3D model (M3 code). To eliminate this confusion, the revised National Annex focuses on form. In this way, if it was a survey drawing, it could be DR. If it was a model, it could be recorded as M.

The revised National Annex attempts to resolve the ambiguity in the discipline identifier by focusing on discipline only. Before, the same role could represent contractual relationships (client, contractor, sub-contractor) or discipline (civil engineering, lighting, etc.). This was confusing because the same team could be labelled with many different codes. With the new discipline identifiers, the focus is only on discipline and not on contractual relationships.

Updates to status codes

The 2021 National Annex has also removed the shared status S6 and S7 to avoid current confusions in the industry of when to use which. On the other hand, a new S5 code now represents “appointing party review and acceptance”. This is mainly to distinguish between two different processes, as the S4 status refers to “submit information model for lead appointed party authorisation”.

Further to these changes, the removal of the published status code CR aims to avoid duplication of one of the A codes. The revised National Annex also provides clarification on the use of the A codes. It explains that the published status does not imply particular reasons for the issue of information. It also clarifies that the project’s information standard should define those reasons. For example, the project’s information standard can define that A4 will mean “authorised and accepted as suitable for construction” whilst A5 will mean “authorised and accepted as suitable as a construction record”.

We’ve looked at the key changes found in the 2021 National Annex. As we can see, most of them refer to the information container identifiers and the status codes. These were clearly two main aspects that created confusion on BIM projects. Hopefully, this revision will help project teams to deliver information more accurately and smoothly.

What do you think about these changes? Do you have any other feedback on the National Annex? Let us know in the comments below.


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