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Paper w78-1998-4:
Information and communication in construction : closing the loop

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Alexander J, Coble R, Crawford J, Drogemuller R, Leslie H, Newton P, Wilson B, Yum Kwok-Keung

Information and communication in construction : closing the loop

Abstract: Both nationally and internationally, the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector is highly fragmented : it is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the nature of information and knowledge can be dispersed among firms and organisations, and consortia are frequently formed from geographically dispersed firms. In recognition of the potential improvements to be gained through an integrated approach to project information used throughout the design, documentation, construction and operation processes, substantial research is underway in Australia to "close the loop" of information flows between designers and constructors. The paper will explore and discuss both the technology platform in terms of information and communications technology (mobile, high-speed and wide area networking linking the design and engineering offices with the construction site) and the information platform in terms of the content of communications between project stakeholders and the requisite information (traditional spatial as well as non-spatial data) of key concern to the stakeholders at various stages of the project lifecycle. The paradigm shift that has occurred over recent years from stand-alone personal computing (which reinforced fragmentation) to mobile and Wide Area networked computing now provides a platform capable of promoting integration, accessibility and co-operation within the sector with attendant gains in efficiency. A minimum requirement to achieve these gains is access to the right information (not just simple data) at the desired level of scale and detail for a particular stakeholder’s view - information which once collected can be stored and refined and then held for use elsewhere on the project without loss and without the need for subsequent re-entry. The information needs to be available quickly and easily, that is at the right time and in the right location for maximum benefit and project efficiency. Demonstration collaborative systems to support interactive Computer Aided Design and information exchange between project stakeholders such as architects, various engineers (electrical, hydaulic, mechanical, structural) and project managers, in an innovative collaborative manner have become available to bring dispersed project members together electronically. Such systems allow project members attached to a network to undertake a range of information access and exchange from simple e-mail; through on-site access to central project data sources via handheld computers; right through to the use of optional live (or pre-recorded) video to enhance collaboration. Using communications infrastructure, this functionality can be shared in various ways - in a corporate-wide environment between regional and/or interstate offices within a company, or in a consortium situation (between offices of a consortium working together on a specific construction project). The questions then arise as to how such systems fit into industry practice, and how the industry might adapt to embrace new opportunities provided by such technological advances. Ease of access to up-to-date, accurate project information for a range of project stakeholders is being extended through research in the US and Australia to close the loop between some of the stakeholders, and this will be discussed in detail in the paper. As well, the progress of industry-based support for a level of interoperability for building and construction information by organisations such as the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI Australasian chapter) will also be discussed, plus the likely impact of the adoption of Industry Foundation Classes in the Australian building and construction industry in areas such as the design life for buildings based on durability of materials.



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Series: w78:1998 (browse)
Cluster: papers of the same cluster (result of machine made clusters)
Class: class.communication (0.057235) class.environment (0.023003) class.synthesis (0.022896)
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Permission to reproduce these papers has been graciously provided by Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. The assistance of the editors, Prof. Bo-Christer Björk and Dr. Adina Jägbeck, is gratefully appreciated.


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