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Data dictionaries in construction

What is a data dictionary?

According to EN ISO 23386, a data dictionary is a centralised repository of information about data such as meaning, relationships to other data, origin, usage and format.

The data dictionary enables differently built software to capture, validate and analyse the same raw data about construction objects. Describing the structure of construction data through such a methodology is the first step to refining the data and extracting value from it.

There are many different data dictionaries in the construction industry worldwide. To ensure that the data is universally understood by all actors and the software that they use, these dictionaries are interconnected. This is achieved through the implementation of the international standard EN ISO 23386 that establishes a framework for creating context in interconnected data dictionaries, thus ensuring one common language across the construction industry worldwide.

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What are data dictionaries used for?

Through standard-based data dictionaries, such as Define, organisations can develop a common way of describing construction products, systems, materials, and assets, thus establishing a common digital language.  This way construction industry actors can exchange construction data freely – without the risk of waste, errors, or misunderstandings, essentially talking the same language in a digital environment. All this is key to achieving interoperability – if industry stakeholders can communicate efficiently, they can work together efficiently.

How can organisations benefit from implementing a standard-based data dictionary?