Visualising data from your CDE in a seamless digital environment
We rely on several fundamental applications to deliver critical infrastructure. However today we often struggle to bring this information together in a way that teams can gain real value from.
Our Principal Product Manager, Yacoob Kurimbokus, explores the landscape of today's Common Data Environments (CDEs), used to centralise information, and how data visualisation fits into the bigger picture of today's ecosystems.
Today’s information systems landscape
Today, different teams rely on a range of software and applications to deliver their part of a programme of works, generating a huge volume of digital information in a variety of file formats. In the last few decades, the CDE has been introduced to help consolidate all of this project information into a single source of truth, provide version control, and associated approval workflows.
Despite this clear step forwards, providing a holistic view of a project’s state and plans to all stakeholders still poses a challenge. Whilst information held in CDEs can be comprehensive to technical users, getting relevant project information into the hands of decision-makers and non-technichal stakeholders in a way that is quick, simple and intuitive is difficult. Ultimately, if the right people can't access the right data in a manner that is actionable for them, it causes unnecessary errors, delays and increased costs.
Sensat's relationship with CDEs
At our core, Sensat is focused on enhancing context, communication, and collaboration to enable more effective decision-making for critical infrastructure projects. The project information held within CDEs is a key foundation but bringing it together in a more natural setting with real-world context yields significantly greater value across all project teams and stakeholders.
At Sensat we believe CDEs are an important piece of the puzzle but not the whole solution. Sensat complements CDEs by combining diverse and complex information into a single easy-to-use visual space. We call this the Common Visualisation Environment (CVE) - you can read our complete guide to the Common Visualisation Environment here.
Over the first half of 2023, we have made some huge announcements with the launch of automated integrations with Autodesk Construction Cloud followed by Bentley ProjectWise. Previously files had to be uploaded manually into Sensat, but now files from CDEs can be synced hourly and visualised in Sensat. This means teams can view their latest project data within the context of the real world without any extra effort.
Why visualise your CDE data?
Arguably one of the most human ways to digest information is visual. Some CDEs offer the ability to preview drawings and models, or stream them to dedicated design software. However, this doesn’t realise the full value of the data. Combining multiple datasets with accurate up-to-date scans of large-scale infrastructure sites enables a more holistic perspective. In turn this benefits a wider range of stakeholders and empowers decision-makers to improve programme outcomes. In our eyes here are some of the most important benefits of visualising CDE data in Sensat’s CVE:
Enhance data access and understanding
Civil infrastructure projects often involve multiple stakeholders, each using different software tools and formats to store and manage their data. Whilst a CDE helps teams to share information from a central location it does not mean everyone can open the files, let alone gain actionable insights from them.
By bringing diverse data types together into one visual setting using a CVE, teams can overlay information from different disciplines together with scans of the real world. This is dramatically improving the utility of technical drawings and geospatial data for project managers and broader stakeholders. The holistic view spanning all disciplines enables plans and progress to be better understood, reducing the time to identify issues & risks and the costs associated with addressing them.
Collaboration and communication in context
Coordinating information sharing across diverse teams, including architects, engineers, contractors, and subcontractors, can be complex and time-consuming. In CDEs, and specialised design tools, teams often have to flick back and forth between different files to piece together a full picture. Discussions around options, construction plans, issues and risks can be stored in some CDEs but are typically difficult to see in context.
Using Sensat’s CVE, project teams can collaborate on their project data naturally. Team members can use shared views to ensure everyone is on the same page. Tools to mark up areas of interest combined with the ability to send geolocated messages also ensure project stakeholders have a natural way to work together. Visualising project data from a CDE along with context-aware collaboration features enables stakeholders to plan and problem-solve like never before with the assurance they are seeing the complete picture.
Align with approval workflows and version control
On large-scale civil infrastructure projects multiple parties contribute to the project over an extended period. Managing different versions of documents, designs, and plans becomes challenging without the proper controls and processes. CDEs include version control and approval workflow features that allow projects to conform to ISO 19650 guidelines, however when sharing across multiple stakeholders and organisations we need to be sure everyone is working with the most up-to-date and accurate information.
Sensat’s CVE automatically syncs hourly with your CDE so that all stakeholders are looking at the most recent approved revisions. This removes the overheads and risks associated with manual workflows and gives all team members confidence they are being presented with an up-to-date holistic view of their project. Overall this leads to a reduction in communication errors and allows teams to focus on project outcomes rather than shuttling data around.
Maintain data security
Sharing information across civil infrastructure projects requires careful consideration of data governance and security. Confidential or sensitive data must be protected to prevent unauthorised access or data breaches. Establishing robust data governance policies, access controls, and encryption mechanisms is crucial to ensure data integrity and protect stakeholders' interests.
By integrating your CDE with Sensat’s CVE, information managers can control which data will be synced to the visual environment, leveraging workflow processes and file organisation that already exists. Recognising the CDE as the source of truth, synced files and metadata cannot be edited within Sensat’s CVE, only viewed. Sensat’s platform is also certified to ISO 27001 standards, ensuring your critical project data is safeguarded at all times.
The future of visualisation
Producing a consolidated visualisation of the information held within Common Data Environments is crucial for infrastructure projects. It brings data to life, providing real-world context and enabling teams to make informed decisions. By addressing challenges related to data compatibility, interoperability, governance, security, collaboration, and scalability, a well-designed Common Visualization Environment empowers stakeholders to quickly derive actionable insights – reducing errors and delays and improving overall project outcomes. As technology continues to shape the industry, embracing the power of visualisation is essential for unlocking the full potential of infrastructure data.