Democratizing data access for AECO customers to realize more business value

Categories: AEC Architecture Engineering Construction Business
Tags: cloud collaboration digital-transformation platform
  • Autodesk acquires Datum360 to address the growing demand for connectivity between model data and other types of project data to meet compliance reporting and classification requirements.
  • Autodesk’s AEC Data Model API, now generally available, makes granular data accessible to all Autodesk Docs users.
  • By connecting people and data across the project lifecycle, AECO firms can create better designs and deliver higher quality projects faster, with less waste and lower costs.


The amount of data and number of tools continues to explode in the architecture, engineering, construction, and operations (AECO) industry. This means the need for data infrastructure that facilitates flexibility and interoperability across users, tools, and project lifecycles has become paramount.

Today, I’m pleased to announce two milestones in our effort to connect people and data across the project lifecycle: Datum360 has joined Autodesk to address the immediate need for better, more connected data, and Autodesk’s AEC Data Model API is now generally available, making granular data accessible to Autodesk Docs users.

Together, our acquisition of Datum360 and the API release represent a major step in advancing Autodesk’s commitment to AECO customers–empowering them to realize better AECO outcomes through more useful, connected, and accessible data.

The AECO data problem

The AECO industry’s most valuable data is often trapped in file formats and not easily accessed, analyzed, or reused by users. In fact, over 95% of all data created goes unused in design and construction(1), and “bad data”–data that is inaccurate, incomplete, inaccessible, or inconsistent–is estimated to have contributed to $1.8 trillion in losses worldwide for the construction industry in 2020 alone(2).

Josha van Reij, product manager Autodesk Construction Cloud (ACC), data & AI for Arcadis, experiences this struggle first-hand: “We, like many AEC firms, are challenged by fragmented data that’s trapped in project files, which leads to low-quality data and a time-intensive process to manually extract analytics and insights.”

Jeff Hojlo, research VP, Future of Industry Ecosystems, Innovation Strategies, & Energy Insights with International Data Corporation (IDC), shared similar findings: “IDC’s research finds that unified project data is the top challenge and goal in the AEC industry, with design firms, contractors, Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC services) firms, estimators, and owners all requiring a real-time view of status, issues, and needs so time, cost, quality, and safety goals can be adequately met. Unifying project data for construction ecosystem partners is anticipated to improve the quality and timeliness of mission critical data and insights.”

Better data can help our customers like Arcadis understand the health and performance of their business, like where to invest resources, gain efficiencies, reduce cost, and streamline operations. With real-time insights on projects, firms can course correct early and often, avoid rework, and plan for future projects based on trusted data.

Datum360 joins Autodesk

The Datum360 acquisition will enable us to better support the near-term data management needs of our AECO customers. Post-acquisition, Datum360’s technology will help us to bridge a gap in current offerings and expand support for non-model data and compliance reporting.

“Datum360 and Autodesk are united by a shared mission to help our customers make their data a competitive advantage,” said Steve Wilson, Datum360 CEO. “By integrating our technologies, we’re not building a single source of truth, but a single source to go to and search for the truth.”

Serving as a powerful and trusted data backbone, Datum360 connects data currently stored across disparate silos and empowers AECO stakeholders to make better decisions by increasing the accessibility of model data outside the design authoring environments. Its cloud-based platform helps users across the asset lifecycle navigate today’s complex data landscape with confidence, enabling teams to connect, manage, and search across information in one, centralized location.

Datum360 is configurable to a wide range of industry and company classification standards, reliably secure, and built for performance. The tool offers broad benefits that align with customer needs:

  • A class library to specify and define precise data requirements;
  • Powerful capabilities for intelligent data scraping, searching, reporting, and collaboration;
  • Controlled access features to manage changes with a full lifecycle audit trail; and
  • Seamless integration of all data from distinct sources.

A new paradigm for AEC data

With the release of the AEC Data Model API, we’re introducing a new paradigm in which data can be accessed either via files or at a granular level–the underlying data that makes up a model or a file at the most elemental level is often referred to as granular data. The AEC Data Model API is the first deliverable of a broader granular data ecosystem we’re building–called the AEC data model–that seeks to improve data quality and eliminate the bulky file-based exchange of data.

Built on Autodesk’s Design and Make Platform, and underpinning the AECO industry cloud Autodesk Forma, the AEC data model is an open and extensible solution that will empower our customers to realize better outcomes for the built environment. By connecting people and data across the asset lifecycle, customers can create better designs and deliver higher quality construction faster, with less waste and lower costs.

Customers are already seeing the benefits. Arcadis uses the AEC Data Model API to drive powerful standardization across their project data. “The Autodesk Data Model API made it possible for us to extract data from our Revit models and centralize it on the cloud so it’s accessible within our organization,” said van Reij. “We’ve been able to reach 60% more structured project data using the API compared to our previous way of working. This means we can glean cross-project insights from more quality data and offer automated client delivery in a standardized way. Moreover, the API is not only used for new projects. We also delve into historical project data, applying AI to identify trends and insights that our teams leverage to generate new business opportunities and innovative ways to deliver value to both existing and new clients.”

The AEC Data Model API begins to establish a common language across the AECO lifecycle, from design authoring all the way through to construction-ready models and operations. Key features include:

  • Direct cloud access to the granular design data in the AEC data model via a set of GraphQL Application Programming Interfaces (APIs);
  • The ability to access property information for individual Revit Elements such as dimensions, materials, or room and area data;
  • Open access to property data created in Revit without the need to write application plugins or perform additional processing to retrieve data; and
  • Search across the contents of multiple models at the same time.

In the future, the API will expand to provide access to additional types of data, as well as data from other Autodesk products to power experiences and applications for stakeholders, in near real time, so better decisions can be made.

Autodesk Docs on the path to be a common data environment

By making the AEC Data Model API available to any customers with Autodesk Docs access, we are expanding Docs as an open common data environment. Docs is evolving from a cloud-based file management system to serve as Autodesk’s AECO common data environment for all our products in the future, so that it will enable access both to files and the granular data within them. Collaborators will benefit from accessing the data points they need rather than interacting with the entire model. This makes data accessible across a more diverse audience of stakeholders, meaning that it can fuel insightful dashboards that lead to better decisions.

While the API is just the first capability of the AEC data model, it represents a key step forward in democratizing access to granular data that has historically been accessible by just a handful of technical experts. By connecting people and data across the project lifecycle, I’m excited to see what our customers can accomplish.


 (1) 2018 Big Data Report, FMI, FMI_BigDataReport.pdf ( 

(2) “Harnessing the Data Advantage in Construction,” study by Autodesk and FMI Corporation, 2021


The foregoing descriptions of the contemplated effects of Autodesk’s acquisition of Datum360 are subject to Autodesk’s ability to successfully integrate Datum360 in all respects.

This communication includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws regarding future events and development efforts for our products and services, including without limitation statements regarding the anticipated benefits of the acquisition. These statements reflect our current expectations based on what we know today. Our plans are not intended to be a promise or guarantee of future events or the delivery of products, services, or features, and purchasing decisions should not be made based upon these statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from such statements include the following: the failure to realize the anticipated benefits of the acquisition, including Autodesk’s inability to successfully integrate the business of Datum360; costs related to the acquisition; the competitive environment in the architecture, engineering, and construction design industry and competitive responses to the acquisition; and Autodesk and Datum360’s success developing new products or modifying existing products and the degree to which these gain market acceptance. We do not assume any responsibility to update this communication to reflect events that occur or circumstances that exist after the publish date of this communication.