Data Day Speaker Spotlight: Jon Anunson of AECOM

Jon Anunson, Global Manager of Process and Metrics, will be presenting at Data Day 2018, August 8th in St. Louis, MO on BIG data. We reached out to Jon to get a better understanding about him and his presentation.


What is the title of the presentation?

BIM isn’t big data…YET.


Class Description

Are Revit models Big Data? Not really.  Sure, they could represent millions of data points, even Gigabytes of information, but according to the traditional definition of BIG DATA as data with problematic Volume, Velocity, and Variety, it’s not BIG on its own. So why does it keep coming up regarding BIM? Big data is popular, there are lots of techniques being developed to handle it, and the data science & analytics potential for big data continues to grow. While a BIM is rarely BIG DATA on its own, there are a few ways BIG DATA is still important for BIM. When we utilize spatial / BIM references as semiotic tools to organize the massive flow of Operational, IOT, and management information that our clients deal with, BIM is the framework of meaning that enables better understanding.

In this talk, we’ll look at what BIG DATA techniques need to be effective and cover 2 key ways we can meet those requirements; through a broadening of scope, and through accretion and data-continuity. Then we’ll examine several ways BIM can turn data into actionable intelligence and what future opportunities this could yield for our industry.

Based on an article by Jon Anunson at BIM Today.

What is the one thing an attendee would learn/know after the session?

Once we’re done, attendees should see the ways they can prepare for the impact BIM Data may have on their design practices, and even use their data to derive meaning from the broader data ecosystem of our infrastructure.

How did you get involved with Data and its implications for the AEC industry?

While finishing architecture school, I started working for a medical school, developing demographic statistical analyses databases before I found my first architectural internship job. The digital aspects of design have always been fascinating to me, and once I encountered the Project Technologies team at AECOM, I had found the ideal spot to really develop our use of data in and around the design process.

Tell us something about why you are a data geek?

Being a data geek blends so many of my favorite things, how could I not. I love puzzles, math, problem-solving, invention, and design.  Today’s world of data and Business Intelligence (BI) is a great blend of the most fun aspects of my job!

What lessons have you learned that would benefit others?

Always develop in a sandbox, even little stuff. One tiny line of SQL, accidentally executed on live data, can be disastrous.  It’ll always be cheaper to have a second copy, take the time to back up the table, etc.

Never dismiss an opportunity, even if it doesn’t look like what you imagine for your future.

If someone asks you, “Can you do it?” Say yes.  Figure the rest out if you have to 😉

What challenges have you faced that you have overcome or are still wrestling with?

When you come from traditional design and art instruction, it’s hard not to want to get things just right, but when working in digital media, data, and especially big data, it’s far more effective to get it wrong, but close. Fail faster and ultimately, you’ll end up with more effective solutions, because what you THINK is just right when you start, may not even be the answer to the right question.  It’s something that has slowed my progress on many projects, and I try to consciously remember this when the work is stuck and time is tight.


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