Digital library of construction informatics
and information technology in civil engineering and construction


Paper w78-2008-5-08:

Facilitated by the SciX project

Ivan Mutis, Raja R.A. Issa


Abstract: Actors generate, share, and ultimately communicate information with other construction project actors. The content of this information is described within construction documents such as drawings, schedules, and specifications. Poor understanding of the content of the documents has been a factor in the escalation of construction project complexity. The result is a lack of efficiency in the communication that has been documented as failures to interoperate among actors during any construction process. As a consequence, actors need to employ additional resources for aiding the understanding of the shared information therefore significantly raising costs and reducing project productivity. Current research efforts are aimed at aiding interoperability by sharing common vocabulary and models among project actors. These efforts have been addressed through the development of common, shared models and construction industry standards. The objective is that multiple construction participants ultimately recognize the shared models and set a universal language. The implementation and use of the models and the common vocabulary provides the possibility of reusing the information within the construction documents by project actors. However, the industry has failed to adopt the commonly shared models and the universal language to effectively share information. The assumption in the construction industry is that the creation of an a priori consensus over the content of what is described within the information is a condition for interoperability. This paper questions this assumption by diverging into another paradigm, the semantics of the represented information. As an alternative, our research focuses on the semantic paradigm. We move away from the attempts to find consensus through common vocabulary and shared models to new methods that benefit from precise meanings. Our assumption is that strategies for exchanging, sharing, and integrating information will not reduce the lack of full automatic interoperability without working first on strategies for understanding the information from other sources.One of the steps proposed here towards this paradigm is the interpretation of the represented information by other construction actors. Our research explores the relationship between the represented information and the interpreter. For this purpose, a parallel of the interpretation of shared information has been made through the Speech Act Theory (Searle 1969). The objective is to understand what background information is pertinent to the conversation and what assumptions and inferences are needed to capture the intended meaning within the expressed utterance in order to parallel the speech act with the shared represented information between two construction participants. This research proposes the interoperability act concept for construction documents. The significant implications of this effort are the characterization of the interoperability act with the purpose of developing new forms of representing semantics within the construction documents, which provide a method to successfully share and communicate information.

Keywords: Interoperability act, construction concepts, interoperability actions, forms of representation


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