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Understanding the term ‘Metadata’.

Buzzwords capture what is culturally fashionable at any given moment in time. Eco-friendly, green, sustainable are just a couple of the current built environment buzzwords that give a flavour of the industry’s key focuses and areas of attention. From an information management perspective, a term that’s been floating around for a while in digital engineering and BIM contexts is metadata. But what does metadata actually mean and is its overuse leading to misinterpretations? Dr Jamie Dupée from Edocuments explains.

If we take the textbook definition, metadata can be defined as “data that provides information about other data, but not the content of the data such as the text of a message or the image itself.” There are many distinct types of metadata, but a simple example for a document might include a collection of information including the author, file size, the date the document was created and keywords to describe the document. Metadata, then, provides information about data so there can be greater understanding and knowledge about a given piece of information.

There are hundreds and thousands of pieces of data on construction projects that all need to be collected for compliance purposes. However, in some contexts metadata is being used as a catch-all term for any extra data that could be potentially relevant in the future. In these situations, metadata is seen as some form of additional content to be added to documents, rather than a form of data for authored content. Metadata is painted as being information that clients optimistically collect because they think they might need it. It’s also seen as involving an additional, time-consuming data collection process where multiple parties are sending information. 

Thankfully, there are solutions on the market that can clear any misconceptions and provide the right metadata to meet project requirements. Edocuments’ sophisticated platform manages metadata automatically for all data and documents, without any consideration required by content providers such as information managers, sub-contractors, and suppliers. 

Edocuments’ platform allows teams to collect the right metadata needed for a project. Edocuments’ team of experts can set up rules for what metadata is optional and what is necessary. These rules are referred to as level of information rulesets, commonly known as LOI’s. Edocuments platform then validates the metadata via the rulesets and shows gaps and holes in the optional and necessary data, which allows its teams to report the quality of the data.

In summary, Edocuments platform enables the automatic, streamlined management of metadata, creating metadata that is meaningful and not empty jargon. This management ensures that clients have futureproofed metadata, ensuring that teams, both current and future have access to the right data to inform key decision-making. 

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