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Knowledge Base:
Common Data Environment

What is a Common Data Environment (CDE)?

In construction and the built environment, successful project delivery hinges on effective collaboration, information sharing and streamlined communication between the various stakeholders. A Common Data Environment (CDE) is a crucial solution to achieve these objectives.

A Common Data Environment (CDE) is a centralised digital platform. It facilitates the collaborative management and sharing of project-related information and data throughout the lifecycle of a built asset from design, construction, and operation.

The introduction of BIM and digital technologies brought about significant improvements in project collaboration. However, the information teams were working with was unreliable and prone to error. File sharing information via email led to significant rework being required. Files would be lost.  Or the wrong versions shared. Many in the supply chain struggled to find the information they needed.

A single source of truth

A CDE serves as a single source of truth for all stakeholders involved in a project. This includes architects, engineers, contractors, project managers and the client.

Whether it is data rich 3D models, structured datasets such as COBie, or documents, the core purpose of a CDE is to ensure information is controlled and managed effectively. Having a centralised platform reduces the risk of errors, miscommunications and discrepancies and can enhance efficiency, collaboration and project coordination.

High standards

A CDE promotes transparency and accountability. Maintaining a detailed record of all actions and changes made within the platform minimises risk and enhances project oversight. This ensures all work is done on time and to a high standard.

Despite the rapid adoption of digital design tools, there are still many documents to manage. There are key differences, and similarities, between how structured and unstructured information flows through the CDE. So care should be taken when selecting and implementing a CDE.

AIM CDEs for operation

A key distinction to be aware of is the growing understanding that the CDE for project delivery. It is unlikely to be the same as the CDE needed post-handover. With the growing number of smart buildings which are highly connected, the concept of building operators needing a CDE to manage their asset data, which first emerged in PAS1192-3:2014, is gaining traction. This type of CDE is an Asset Information Model CDE (AIM CDE).

Setting up an AIM CDE happens well in advance of handover to allow for a seamless, risk free process. Data testing, systems integrations and validation and verification processes have to be successfully performed before any data sharing can begin. It is best practice to run an AIM CDE in parallel with the Project CDE from the earliest stages of a project, which allows the team to work towards a first-class digital handover which has started with the end in mind.

To understand more about how CDEs can be configured to support the use of ISO 19650 processes, check out the UK BIM Framework Guidance document.

Transforming the built environment

In summary, a Common Data Environment plays a pivotal role in transforming the built environment. It enables effective collaboration, streamlined information management and improved project delivery. By centralising project data and providing real-time access to accurate information, a CDE enhances efficiency, reduces errors, and fosters a more productive and sustainable built environment. Embracing this technology-driven approach empowers key stakeholders to overcome traditional challenges and welcomes a new era of construction excellence.


Discover how gliderbim® software is used as a Common Data Environment in our Client Success Stories.