Computer and communication engineering : internet protocol telephony in construction
A construction project traditionally involves intensive communication flows between the site operations (workers, gangers, engineers, foremen, etc.), the site office, the company and the Supply Chain. Typically on the jobsite, a temporary site office is set up in order to conduct the operations of the construction project phases. The site office is equipped with traditional telecommunication means such as phone, fax and Internet connection. The site personnel are provided with a multitude of mobile, satellite and wireless telecommunication devices where appropriate, such as PDA, GSM and satellite phones/fax, and walkie-talkies. Technically, these legacy systems, once put together, could be able to provide adequate communication resources to the construction project teams. But one of the main issues emerging from the use of the abovementioned traditional telecommunication systems is that their cost can be found in some cases to be very high. On the other hand, in the absence of providing the necessary communication means available through the traditional telecommunication systems to the personnel on the move for whatsoever reason could be very harmful and, may negatively affect the execution of the construction works and the project lifecycle as a whole. This situation could be overcome if alternative solutions are put in place to reduce cost and improve communications. Therefore, this study has investigated a new communication paradigm known as IP (Internet Protocol) Telephony, which could possibly provide the site office, as well as the entire project team members with adequate, cheaper and more effective communications means at the jobsite. IP Telephony refers to communication services such as voice, video, facsimile, and/or voice-messaging applications that are transported via the Internet, rather than the Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN). The basic steps involved in originating an IP Telephony call are the conversion of the analogue voice signal into digital format and the compression/translation of the signal into IP packets for transmission over the Internet. This communication paradigm eliminates the need for separate infrastructures for voice and data networks as these services can be implemented over a single data infrastructure. Furthermore, while, from the technical point of view IP Telephony Technology could be ready to satisfy the business case in general, its development within the construction sector has not been observed due to several barriers that have been investigated in this work as being part of the development of an integrated framework that aimed at enabling the use of Internet Protocol Telephony in construction. This research aimed at developing a generic integrated framework for enabling the use of Internet Protocol (IP) Telephony in construction. The process involved in the development of this framework included the conduct of intensive literature around the traditional telecommunication systems used by construction firms in the United Kingdom as well as the investigation of the current situation of IP Telephony technology in terms of availability of commercial services and applications used by the construction industry. The field investigations were obtained through appropriate surveys and interviews conducted with construction firms, telecommunication operators and Internet Protocol (IP) Telephony equipment vendors respectively. The research further looked at the issues related to the transfer of such a technology into the construction industry and investigated the main barriers preventing its implementation in construction sites' environments. These investigations represented an important part in the development of the "Internet Protocol Telephony on Construction Sites (IPTCS) Framework" which represents the focus of this research. The various modes of communications are described under this common framework which is expected to benefit in premier-lieu the construction industry by driving construction firms to look at IP Telephony technology as an adequate and cost effective alternative to their communication means for empowering their mobile personnel on construction sites and in the office alike. It could also motivate telecommunication operators, IP Telephony application developers and equipment vendors to establish specific solutions suitable for construction sites environments according to the industry's needs and requirements.