How greater intelligence can lead to better buildings

BIM and Information Technology | JUNE 14, 2015 | C.C. Sullivan, Contributing Editor

Architecture, engineering, and construction firms can lead the way in helping clients make use of new, broad access to high-value information.

The buzzword may be “Big Data,” but the reality is that Building Teams need to burrow deep into those huge datasets in the course of designing and building new facilities. Much of the information is free. You just need to dig for it. Architecture, engineering, and construction firms can lead the way in helping clients make use of new, broad access to high-value information—whether your client is a university, a commercial developer, a regional health provider, or a municipal or regional planning department. Building Teams can deploy deep data analysis to help clients produce better projects faster, save money, or be first to plant their flag in a geographical market. Designers and urban planners can benefit significantly from the analysis of personal location data, says Randy Deutsch, AIA, LEED AP, Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and author of the forthcoming “Data-Driven Design and Construction: 25 Strategies for Capturing, Analyzing and Applying Building Data.” He points to decisions related to infrastructure, highway design, and mass-transit construction—all of which could affect your building project—that can be improved by analyzing such data. Underlying these new opportunities are changes in how datasets are being collected and made available. “Open data systems,” a tech-sector term that has migrated to the real estate world, can give your team access to all the information you need for a project investment before, during, and after the project phase. “In real estate there are tremendous amounts of information,” according to Jake Seid, President of, who addressed the Urban Land Institute in New York last October. “By creating an open, transparent marketplace for real estate and leveling the playing field by using data, actually sellers win, buyers win, brokers win. It’s a net positive for everybody who participates in the transaction.” Seid cites RealMassive (, an online marketplace for commercial real estate, as an example of private-sector organizations that are providing deep data. The public sector is also opening up its data, says Chris Palmisano, Senior Account Manager at Google. State agencies increasingly allow access to their systems so that the public and businesses can see who gets building permits and design/construction contracts, why they’ve been awarded, and the performance criteria used to measure them.

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