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June 7, 2022

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Golden thread

The digitisation of building information and its relationship with the ‘Golden Thread’

Julian Hall reports from a panel discussion at FIREX 2022, as experts explored the golden thread principle and how digital logbooks and information can support in achieving its goals for greater accountability in the built environment.

Panellists in this discussion were:

  • Fiona Perrin (Chair) – Health Safety and Fire Manager, Royal Academy Arts
  • Aman Sharma – Totus Digital, MD and member of BRAC, the Buildings Regulations Advisory Committee;
  • Andrea White – CMIOSH Independent Fire Safety Consultant, Fire Engineer & IFE-registered Fire Risk Assessor, Managing Director of A W Fire Ltd, and founder of the Women in Fire Engineering Network (WIFENG);
  • Neil Yeomans – Head of Property Safety at Orbit Group

With the Building Safety Act recently passed into law, achieving Dame Judith Hackitt’s ‘golden thread’ of building information to ensure greater accountability, has come into a full focus.

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The discussion took place at FIREX in May 2022

Alongside the Act, later this year a finalised version of BS 8644-1 will be published. BS 8644-1: Digital Management of Fire Safety Information. Part 1: Design, Construction, Handover, Asset Management and Emergency Response – Code of Practice will give recommendations for the management, presentation and exchange of fire safety-specific and related information using digital information management processes.

Fiona Perrin kicked off the discussion by asking what organisations can do to digitise all fire safety information.

Aman Sharma said that the government response by setting up BRAC (Buildings Regulations Advisory Committee) was helpful, bringing together a working group of designers, contractors, residents and so on, raising an awareness and interest in the golden thread.

Sharma recognised that organisations will have their own interpretation of what digital means. He cited an example between housing association L&Q and Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) – it aims to build a prototype of a standardised digital golden thread and to test the feasibility of collecting the information needed throughout the lifecycle of the buildings concerned.

Neil Yeomans acknowledged that the golden thread is helping us understand how and what we do to keep buildings safe. In terms of tangibles, Yeomans said how Orbit Group had been accredited for BS 9997 [a fire risk management system’ released in August 2019 designed to provide a framework for organisations of all sizes and types to manage their approach to fire risk in a holistic, risk-based way] and Orbit are also working towards ISO 22301, designed to help organisations prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from unexpected and disruptive incidents – whether that’s a business failure of a service failure. The combination of both BS 9997 and ISO 22301 will form the basis of Orbit’s Safety Case File, which in turn will drive their golden thread of information, Neil explained.

Andrea White said that from a client’s perspective, they need to get a sense of where they are, where they need to go and cut that long distance “into smaller chunks”, identifying the documents they need to hold on to and storing them in the same place and identifying any gaps.

“The first step isn’t necessarily IT,” argues White, noting that it’s important to demystify what digitalisation means – “all it means is sticking papers on to computers.”

Yeomans countered that getting electronic copies of documents was a “first, baby step” and that we need to be getting to a point where he could ask smart devices such as Alexa or Siri “how many plastic gas flues do we have in properties above 18m?” Yeomans stated: “That’s the potential if we move away from the idea that it’s just PDFs.”

He also noted that the sheer breadth of information needed, and over the course of the building’s lifecycle, was part of the challenge and added: “Information is unmanageable unless it is in data format.”

Steps to avoid ‘data erosion’, the day-to-day loss of information from accidental or over-zealous deletions were crucial so that, when decisions were looked back at, evidence could be provided to show the process. This is at the heart of the golden thread. “There’s not enough control over the way we manage our data as a sector.”

Yeomans described that fundamental to the golden thread is developing a way of having a data architecture or a language “that makes sense to multiple people” and that “relayed critical information to all parties, including contractors and customers in an open, understandable way.”

White questioned the cost-benefit of applying BIM (Building Information Management) to, for example, thousands of buildings operated by a housing association, and said the priority was to have up-to-date information whether that was in document form or digital. Though Yeomans responded that making information digital made it easier to amend at scale, compared to “constantly interrogating a PDF.”

Ultimately, the debate highlighted that whatever the role digitisation of building information will play, the demand from industry to achieve the golden thread is evident – though it would not be without its challenges. Underlining the significance of the principle, Sharma noted that the Health and Safety Executive (under which the Building Safety Regulator now operates) is a “very effective regulator” and that non-compliance with the golden thread could mean imprisonment.

 

Fire Safety in 2021 eBook – Is the industry ready to embrace systemic change?

Download the Fire Safety in 2021 eBook, as IFSEC Global and FIREX International keep you up to date with the biggest stories of the year, including new legislation, a round-up of the biggest news stories, and articles on third-party certification and the role of digital information software in meeting golden thread principles.

The eBook also features an exclusive foreword from the Fire Industry Association's Ian Moore, and a look at how the sector embraces systemic change in attitudes to risk and safety.

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Alicia Charisse
Alicia Charisse
June 24, 2022 10:17 pm

Questions about the safety of buildings cannot be ignored, it is very important, because the safety of people depends on it. The “Golden thread” scheme is ideal for:

  • fire safety management
  • proper design and construction
  • transfer of assets
  • emergency response

All that is must be controlled. Since everything is automated now, There is a lot of software on the mobile device that allows you to manage checks and makes it easier to document security