A Common Data Environment (CDE) is the backbone of both BIM Level 1 and Level 2 maturity. Essentially a CDE is a collaborative, secure and digital environment that the whole team can access.During the project lifecycle, vast amounts of data and information is created and shared, with the CDE becoming an ideal environment in which to promote a collaborative working culture. PAS1192-2 notes the CDE technology solution can be very different on small and large projects and may use a project server, extranet, a file-based retrieval system or other suitable toolsets from free web-based file sharing applications or more sophisticated enterprise software. The CDE requirements should be clearly defined in the Employers Information Requirements (EIR) to allow the suppliers to understand and make appropriate allowance within their bids if required.
British Standard Institution (BSI) describes the Common data environment (CDE) as:
"Single source of information for any given project, used to collect, manage and disseminate all relevant approved project documents for multi-disciplinary teams in a managed process [from PAS 1192-2] Single source of information for any given project or asset, used to collect, manage and disseminate all relevant approved files, documents and data for multidisciplinary teams in a managed process [from PAS 1192-3; adapted from PAS 1192-2:2013 to refer to an asset rather than a facility]"
Benefits of a Common Data Environment:
- Reducing the time and effort required to check, version and reissue information
- Extracting selections of the latest approved data from the shared area.
- Reducing coordination checks (ensuring models are correct and issues like clashes between models are not evident) which are a by-product of the detailed design production process.
- Reuse of information to support construction planning, estimating, cost planning, facilities management, and many other downstream activities.
- Reducing the time and cost of producing coordinated information.
A template scoping document when procuring a Common Data Environment can be found at the following link.