Invisible Data Curation Practices: A Case Study from Facility Management


  • Tor Sporsem SINTEF, Trondheim, Norway
  • Morten Hatling SINTEF, Trondheim, Norway
  • Marius Mikalsen SINTEF, Trondheim, Norway


Facility management, which concerns the administration, operations, and maintenance of buildings, is a sector undergoing significant changes while becoming digitalized and data driven. In facility management sector, companies seek to extract value from data about their buildings. As a consequence, craftsmen, such as janitors, are becoming involved in data curation. Data curation refers to activities related to cleaning, assembling, setting up, and stewarding data to make them fit existing templates. Craftsmen in facility management, despite holding a pivotal role for successful data curation in the domain, are understudied and disregarded. To remedy this, our holistic case study investigates how janitors’ data curation practices shape the data being produced in three facility management organizations. Our findings illustrate the unfortunate that janitors are treated more like a sensor than a human data curator. This treatment makes them less engaged in data curation, and hence do not engage in a much necessary correction of essential facility data. We apply the conceptual lens of invisible work – work that blends into the background and is taken for granted – to explain why this happens and how data comes to be. The findings also confirm the usefulness of a previously proposed analytical framework by using it to interpret data curation practices within facility management. The paper contributes to practitioners by proposing training and education in data curation.