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Data Sharing In AEC: Why Do We Need It and How Do We Effectively Do It?

Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) projects rely on a ton of information. Each phase brings together different pieces of data. This is where sharing data among everyone involved—like team members, professionals, and stakeholders—becomes important for getting things done well.

Seamless information flow is crucial for project progression. Today, we will talk about data sharing, the exchange of information that ensures every decision is well-informed, every modification is strategic, and efforts are made towards the shared objective of delivering excellence in every project.

Understanding AEC Data

AEC data comprises a diverse array of information, and every piece is crucial in shaping the success of projects in this industry. Here are different types of AEC data-

  • Design Datainvolves architectural plans showcasing detailed schematics, floor plans, and elevation drawings. Alongside, 3D Models serve as digital renderings providing a comprehensive visual grasp of the proposed structures. Technical drawings and drafts complement these, offering specific insights into project elements.
  • Engineering Dataincludes structural calculations and technical specifications detailing the requisite materials and structural elements, and analysis reports derived from extensive study. These provide critical insights for informed decision-making.
  • Project Management Datacovers schedules, budgets, and strategic resource allocation plans involving manpower, equipment, and materials.
  • Construction Dataincludes insights on material specifications – procurement and usage, reports on construction progress, and specifications for essential machinery and tools used in operations.
  • Environmental Datainvolves sustainability assessments appraising eco-friendly construction methods, energy efficiency plans optimizing energy usage, and environmental impact studies assessing a project’s ecological effects.
  • Legal and Compliance Dataensures adherence to regulations, encompassing permits, approvals, and meeting legal standards and industry requirements. These diverse categories of data collectively form the bedrock for informed decision-making, precise execution, and successful project completion in the AEC industry.

Importance of AEC Data

From the above points, it’s evident that AEC projects encompass a substantial amount of data. The 2022 AEC Data Insights Report by Egnyte shows a 23.4% increase in stored files from 2017 to 2021. General contractors share the most files, while owners access them frequently. This growth in files makes data management harder, and with the industry increasingly digitizing and integrating AI-based tools, this data volume is poised to continue to grow.

Data in the AEC industry isn’t just information; it’s crucial for informed decision-making, collaborative efforts, and successful project outcomes. Understanding and effectively using this data streamlines processes, ensures alignment among stakeholders, enables efficient resource allocation, and ensures compliance with standards and regulations.

Additionally, effective data sharing brings about tangible cost reductions by optimizing resource allocation and utilization. It ensures that materials, manpower, and finances are used wisely. These benefits collectively underscore the pivotal role of streamlined data sharing in not just enhancing operational efficiency but also in driving substantial financial savings.

Challenges in Data Sharing

Now, coming to the challenges. The larger the data, the larger the risk of it being compromised. Egnyte’s report showed a 325% increase in serious issues from 3,793 in Q4 2020 to 16,122 in Q4 2021 across AEC domains.

Since information is dispersed across various platforms and sources, accessing it becomes a complex endeavor. Security concerns loom large, casting shadows on the exchange of sensitive information. Furthermore, the lack of interoperability among AEC software and systems can add to the complexity, hindering the smooth integration and compatibility necessary for efficient data sharing and collaboration within the industry.

This demands stringent measures to safeguard against unauthorized access or breaches. Security vulnerabilities and interoperability limitations can hamper data sharing, and ultimately, the functioning and success of projects. 

Efficient and Secure Data Sharing 

Just as technology is making processes better, it will also aid in effective data sharing. Cloud-based platforms have revolutionized data sharing, offering scalable and accessible storage for project information. Cloud storage is secure and enables real-time access to project data.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a top data-sharing platform in the AEC industry. This technology acts as a central hub, storing project data and enabling seamless information exchange among stakeholders. BIM promotes real-time collaboration and facilitates continuous access and sharing of current information. It streamlines workflows, improves communication, and synchronizes design, construction, and management efforts, making it an essential tool for effective data sharing.

Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors improve project monitoring, providing real-time data that helps make better decisions and boosts project performance.

Businesses should create a structured framework for consistent and efficient data exchange. There’s also a need to implement strict data governance and cybersecurity measures to safeguard sensitive information and prevent unauthorized access. Additionally, investing in training and education for teams on effective data sharing cultivates a culture of data literacy, enabling personnel to navigate data-sharing processes effectively.

 

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