Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building


Golden thread: ‘No clear consensus’ on who owns project data

4 January 2021

CIOB survey finds industry professionals prefer assigning data ownership responsibilities to other parties rather than taking it on themselves

There is no clear consensus over who owns project data at the start of a construction project, despite Dame Judith Hackitt’s call for a digital ‘golden thread’ of information following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

That is one of the key findings from a survey by i3PT Certification and the CIOB. The Golden Thread study showed construction professionals are more comfortable assigning ownership responsibilities to other parties, rather than taking them on themselves.

Some 30% of respondents thought data and information relating to an asset belonged to the client at design stage, with 22% thinking it rested with the information author and 31% thinking it belonged to the lead designer.

At construction stage, 45% thought it belonged to the contractor, with 28% thinking ownership still rested with the client. But by the operation stage, 75% thought it was owned by the client and just 3% with the contractor.

Who owns the data and information relating to an asset at each stage of a project? (responses shown as percentages)

Source: CIOB/i3PT golden thread survey

One respondent said: “Data are not ‘owned’ by any one person or organisation. They are owned and used by multiple organisations and people.” Another said: “The client has rights to all information at all stages, but copyright and liability remain with the authors.”

In a foreword, Hackitt said: “When I carried out an independent review of building regulations and fire safety in the wake of the Grenfell fire, I was surprised to find the lack of complete, accurate or up-to-date information on the buildings the construction industry has created, which are then passed on to be owned and managed by others without knowing what they have.

“It is against this backdrop that I want the industry to recognise and respond to the need for a digital golden thread of information that is an essential part of delivering improvements in building safety.”

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CIOB CEO Caroline Gumble said: “Quality has been at the heart of the CIOB’s work for many years. We know that keeping accurate and up-to-date information on buildings is a key component in delivering improvements in safety. The report provides a clear sense of the direction the industry needs to take to embed this culture change to improve safety for all.”


Information is for sharing at the appropriate stage of any project. It is important that at the end of the project the client inherits accurate information from the last custodian of it (whoever that is with the particular arrangement under consideration).

Alan Edwards, 4 January 2021

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