The construction industry is incomparably complex, fragmented and siloed. Almost every business in construction often works quite independently from the other even though they are required to produce a common result. Different parties are having different digitalisation approaches, different perspectives and do not communicate with each other effectively. And this does not (only) relate to the language barrier. Even with the standards aimed to boost digitalisation in the sector, there is still confusion on what guidance to follow. This makes the progress towards digitalisation in the whole industry slower than anticipated.
That is why in this article we will look at the relationship between the UK: PAS 14191:2020 and the European standards EN ISO 23386 & EN ISO 23387 in an attempt to clarify how they are to be used by the sector.
To begin with, the first and the most important argument is that the UK PAS 14191:2020 complements the data template standards ‘couple’, namely EN ISO 23386 and EN ISO 23387 and should not be considered in isolation from these standards.
What is PAS 14191:2020?
PAS 14191:2020 specifies the requirements for a management process for the creation, acceptance, distribution, interoperability and maintenance of structured information within construction data dictionaries for the built environment. It covers the development, approval and management of structured information, such as data templates.
It is important to note that a PAS, or a Publicly Available Specification, is a UK fast-track standard that is developed through a consensus-building process facilitated by BSI (British Standards Institution). The PAS should not be regarded as a BS, EN, or ISO standard – it defines good practice for a product, service or process and goes into some more practical considerations than what is discussed in the national European and international standards.
Data dictionaries are used in digitally-enabled built environment to store and retrieve terms (properties) related to construction products and methods. The purpose of a data dictionary is to standardise those terms and the ways in which machines ‘understand’ meaning regardless of semantics.
By using a data dictionary, we can put a common machine language into the workings of any software platform making it easier to search, synchronise, compare and agree. In this way of working, when it comes to their users these software platforms keep their versatility and remain independent of that language and can use its own vocabulary and structuring. By referencing the data dictionary item each software ensures that it is ‘talking’ about the same thing as other platforms referencing it, even though this can appear differently to their users.
Unsurprisingly, the construction industry requires versatility even when it comes to the common machine language and has not been able to use just one single data dictionary. There are many different dictionaries that construction organisations create themselves and all of them need to be interconnected.
The link between the international standards and PAS 14191:2020
EN ISO 23386 is an international standard that serves as a methodology to describe, author and maintain construction products’ characteristics called ‘properties’ in interconnected data dictionaries. It is related to the exchange of data in Building Information Modelling (BIM) and other digital processes used in construction. The main objective of this standard is to allow а quality exchange of construction information between multiple industry actors.
The purpose of EN ISO 23387 is to further facilitate the use and reuse of data, by providing the structure to group the properties created according to EN ISO 23386 into data structures, called data templates. By using Data templates specific information needs are addressed, such as ’What data do I need to declare to comply with European regulations so that I can sell my product on the European market?’. Data templates can be used by manufacturing associations to agree on a common way of communicating information about their members’ products. They can also be used by clients/owners to create their Asset Information Requirements, as well as by specifiers to provide value ranges for the properties of construction objects and distribute them as data to the other stakeholders in the project and so on.
Standards such as EN ISO 23386 and EN ISO 23387 are developed by intergovernmental organisations, agreed by multiple countries and are available for consideration and use worldwide. Such standards are specifically created to aid businesses in overcoming technical barriers in international commerce caused by differences among technical regulations and standards developed independently and separately by each nation.
While EN ISO 23386 covers the international, general requirements for interconnected data dictionaries, PAS 14191:2020 adds to those concepts with a series of actionable steps and processes to fulfill the requirements – e.g. it details specific provisions on voting, on dictionary identification, synchronization and withdrawal. Most of the additional requirements of the PAS 14191:2020 concern the existence of multiple interconnected dictionaries and how they are connected to each other.
So whether you are in the UK or else in the world, finding a way to incorporate the knowledge shared through both PAS 14191:2020 and EN ISO 23386 & EN ISO 23387 in your business is paramount to achieving your digitalisation goals when it comes to trusted construction data.
The role of international standards, such as EN ISO 23386 & EN ISO 23387, and the additional insights in PAS 14191:2020 is to provide an agreed approach of how data dictionaries are created and interconnected. This is why they are so important for anyone providing and receiving digital services in the sector.
At Cobuilder, our work is closely related to knowing and reflecting those standards in the services we provide. By choosing Cobuilder, you get a solution that brings the benefits of the latest standards for data management in the sector to your existing software ecosystem.
On our website, you can find more information about the key takeaways of EN ISO 23386 and also learn how we succeeded in implementing the standard in Cobuilder Define – the core of our software platform. You can also learn more about data templates and how they are used by our partners.
Should you have any questions, you can always reach out to our experts for further information.