SPATIAL DATA MANAGEMENT
Avoid costly mistakes in managing your facilities data
Whether you own or lease your facilities the failure to effectively manage activities and data throughout the facility lifecycle can result in significant costs and inefficiencies. Lack of incentives for the various stakeholder groups to work in tandem to design, construct, operate, and decommission facilities often results in mismanagement, loss of data and miscommunication. There are, however, ways to curtail this interoperability and its associated costs through improved management of electronic information.
There are four distinct phases in the life-cycle of a facility:
Planning and Design
Construction and Commissioning
Operations, Maintenance and Renewal
Decommissioning and Disposal
Interoperability often stems from the lack of incentives for coordination by the
various stakeholders involved throughout the facility's life-cycle. The primary
stakeholders being Architects and Engineers (A&E), General Contractors (GC),
Specialty Fabricators and Suppliers (SF), and Owners and Operators (OO). The
problem is further compounded when a stakeholder's representative changes.
The new rep often introduces new ideas and processes on how to manage the
data, frequently without fully understanding systems and procedures originally
put in place. It is also not uncommon for the new rep to bring in new
stakeholders as part of his/her team further complicating matters and often
resulting in additional data loss.
Discontinuities in the transmission of building data typically occur throughout the
building process. Transitions from design to construction to operations result in
loss of data, added cost to reconstitute the data, and overall reduction in data
integrity - the impact growing at each handover, culminating with the handover to
the facility operator. Understanding the facility life-cycle and how the actions or
inactions of the primary stakeholders affect the downstream costs of operations
and maintenance is just the start.
Interoperability relates to
both the exchange and
management of electronic
individuals and systems
would be able to identify
and access information
seamlessly, as well as
comprehend and integrate
information across multiple
Since maintenance of the data is typically not a primary concern of most of the stakeholders,
contract an independent third party such as ARC to manage all of your facility data. An
independent data manager's sole purpose is to maintain the integrity of the data and ensure
that it is readily available when needed. A qualified data manager will have expertise and
knowledge of the needs of all stakeholders through all phases of the facility life-cycle.
This will allow the OO to make changes in relationships with the other stakeholders such as
A&E, GC or SF without affecting the integrity of the data. This also protects the OO from loss
of data due to changes with it's own representatives.
The independent data manager will ensure that the data is kept safe, in a standardized
format and can quickly be retrieved and made available to the required users over the entire
span of facility's life-cycle.
|Protect your as-built data:
As-builts can come in various forms such as hard copy prints, CAD files, .pdf, .tiff, etc.
Without an effective document management system in place a facility can quickly lose
control of its as-built archives or just lose its as-builts period. Many facility managers will
also lend out their as-builts never to see them again. To rebuild this data can be very costly.
Unless you are prepared to spend thousands of dollars to re-create them, never lend out
your as-builts. Your as-builts are the foundational component of the data needed to manage
When new as-built data is ready to be handed over to the OO it should be transmitted directly
to the data manager for incorporation into the as-built archives.
|Use the BIM model as a data repository:
Having a BIM model serve as a digital repository will allow easy access to spatial information
such as floor plans, exit plans, square footage calculations, department diagrams, etc. In
addition, asset based information such as furniture and equipment inventories can be
associated with the model. Asset reports may then be generated to give specific information
such as model numbers, installation manuals, service records, warranties, etc.
Other information such as digital photography, videos and high definition laser scan data can
be linked to the model for viewing. In cases where laser scan imagery is available,
dimensional data can be obtained even if a BIM model does not exist (see below).
Above is a 3D Laser Scan image taken inside a building with a moderately complex
structural system. What you can't see here is that this image acts like a Quicktime movie
where you can rotate around 360 degrees horizontally and 310 degrees over the top.
However, this is not a photograph. It is actual 3D scan data that "you" can pull dimensional
information from and you don't have to know anything about working with laser scan data to
do so. The dimension strings were added directly to the image which resulted in the
dimensions that you see.
|Validate the data:
This is a very important and often overlooked step. Again, because there are very few
incentives for stakeholders to ensure the accuracy of the as-built data, few take time to
properly validate it. In fact, it is often handed over in haste as a condition to close out a
From time-to-time the various stakeholders will contribute new data. All new data shall be
routed directly to the data manager. Before incorporating the data into the digital database
the data manager will check to ensure the data is accurate and in the proper format. If
issues are found, the data manager can require resubmission of the data and/or can validate
the accuracy through field observation. The accuracy and integrity of the data should be
vigorously defended. An independent third party data manager will ensure this.
|Adopt a BIM solution:
BIM (Building Information Modeling) is rapidly being adopted as a replacement to CAD by
the AEC industry. As a result the BIM model is quickly becoming the new standard as a
uniform repository of digital data which can be utilized by all facility stakeholders.
As a result, many OO's are realizing they can mitigate their portion of the cost associated with
the lack of interoperability experienced during the more expensive operations and
maintenance phase of the facility's life-cycle by requiring a BIM design process. By doing so
they ensure that the data seamlessly transitions from stakeholder-to-stakeholder through
each of the phases of the facility life-cycle.
If as-builts are not already in 3D, the as-built documents can be used to create a BIM model
to serve as the foundational digital repository of the building data. Again, if this method is
used, it would be validated through a process of field verification.
|The data must be easily accessible:
It is imperative that the users of the various stakeholder groups be able to access and use
the data when it is needed. Each stakeholder group will have varying degrees of expertise in
working with the BIM software. Typically, those in the first two phases will more likely have the
skills necessary to interact directly in the BIM model and those in the Operations and
Maintenance phase will require the data to be exported out into a format for viewing in a free
viewer such as Autodesk's Design Review. Data can then be published to a secure web
portal allowing easy access to authorized users. Exporting out also protects the data from
In conclusion, as an Owner / Operator, your failure to effectively manage activities and data throughout the entire facility
life-cycle can result in significant costs and inefficiencies. It has been well documented that the majority of the cost
associated with interoperability is borne by the Owner / Operator during the Operations and Maintenance Phase of the
facility life-cycle. Most of the costs stem from inadequate incentives to the primary stakeholders to maintain the integrity
of the data as it is passed downstream from one phase of the life-cycle to the next.
The OO can, however, effectively control the data through all phases by hiring an independent third party to act as the
data manager. This data manager will protect and validate the data through all phases of the facility's life-cycle, will
ensure that data doesn't get lost due to transitions or changes in the stakeholders, and will act to hold the various
stakeholders accountable for their contributions of data.
Utilizing an electronic data repository such as BIM to collect, store and disseminate information to the various users is
key. OO's that implement this early on in the design phase have the most to gain, but cost savings can still be realized if
it is implemented in a later phase of the life-cycle. However, it is only when the OO realizes that there is a real cost to
interoperability and that it is the actions he or she takes to implement these solutions that will help avoid the costly
mistakes of managing their facility over the entire facility life-cycle.
AutoDesk, BIM and Facilities Management
NIST, Cost Analysis of Inadequate Interoperability in the U.S. Capital Facilities
* NIST - Cost Analysis of Inadequate Interoperability in the U.S. Capital Facilities Industry. NIST GCR 04-867