Jan/Feb 2015

Capturing information and making it actionable after a project is complete.

As a healthcare facility owner with more than 70 years of building ownership, we have been handed all kinds of “stuff” at the end of a project. In the past, this stuff used to include tons of paper (for example one of our hospital projects from 2004 had more than 2,000 drawings for its construction set). Once we received this stuff, we would have to sort it out and set it, catalog and label, and try to store it in a place where we could find it later if we needed to access it. In addition to these as-built drawing sets, our received stuff also included paper specifications (clean and marked up), product samples and design finish boards, as well as operations manuals and attic stock. All of this information became the memories that helped walk us through our project’s design and construction past.

Then, as time moved on, our building would mature beyond our cataloged and inventoried design and construction material, and in turn, the operating manuals were updated to match the new updated equipment, the as-built drawings (the ones that weren’t already lost or misplaced) became out of date by remodeling projects, and the attic stock eventually stopped matching the installed finishes.

This past-delivered documentation comprised our project’s analog artifacts, but it was selective. We typically didn’t receive all of the analog stuff that was used to build the project. For example, I remember, back on that 2,000 drawing hospital project, seeing that, as the project finished, dumpsters were deployed to take away all of the extraneous stuff—the coffee-stained markups and other superfluous multiple sets of documents and submittals—this of course along with the construction trailers. That was in the year 2004.

Now, 10 years later, we get the digital version of all those documents, and none of it is being thrown away.

Last year we completed four hospitals. The construction teams captured their documentation a little differently for each of these projects. And at the end of each project we were left with all of the stuff. But this time none of it made it to the dumpster.

Ten years on, we now have terabytes of project data, including point cloud files showing above ceiling and inside wall conditions, every version of pre and post-federated coordination models, and we also have Cobie’d spreadsheets waiting to be integrated with our CMMS (computerized maintenance management system). Currently, all of these files are buried in our post-construction servers, which have become our new version of our attic stock.

Of course this isn’t news for me, as an owner, to tell all of you, as construction professionals, that we’re not ready for all of your new stuff. (You know we were barely ready for your old stuff.)

How do we get ready? And is it already too late?

Analytics and Data
The challenge with this new digital data is it’s being delivered and consumed as if it were the old analog data of drawings and manuals. However advanced tools and deliverables may have become—with building information modeling, virtual design and construction, and drones—the design and construction project and handover progress still match our past legacy processes. Or in other words, we are still living in the year 2004.

Our contracts are still based on design-bid-build with some added design assist or some IPD (integrated project delivery), but currently our projects are abandoned by the design and construction team after completion. Our longest hospital project took almost eight years to design and construct. Now it is our job to operate it for more than 30 years—even if we never did figure out what to do with all the analog documents.

What we need now is design-build-OPERATE.

While there are now a number of vendors that offer solutions for managing the digital information developed during design and construction and even some that help our transition from construction to facility management, we as owners haven’t created processes that can use this information. In this new realm we need to change our own transition processes.

We actually now have the opportunity to be like a developing country, and skip the telephone landline infrastructure and move directly to cellphones. I believe that we’re now at the place in our journey where we can forget creating a platform for something that won’t be used.

But where is that, exactly?

In preparation for exploring that change we are looking at new ways to use that new received data, as well as the ongoing created data during facility operations. Identifying, classifying, and inventorying the data and putting it into actionable categories will enable (hopefully) our ability to continuously commission, manage, and operate our facilities.

Aggregating and integrating our facility data with our members’ data will help us plan for new facilities. As a result of that integration we will understand how our members use our facilities, which will assist us in designing and building new service opportunities that may take us beyond medical-office buildings and hospitals.

Cliff Moser is a director for Facility Planning and Design, National Facilities Services, at Kaiser Permanente. He is the author of Architecture 3.0: The Disruptive Design Practice Handbook. He can be reached at cliff.moser@kp.org

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