Requirements engineering in innovative systems developments for the construction industry
Collaborative working using innovative integrated VR based IT systems in construction has become a reality as many activities are performed in a distributed manner with the construction stakeholders situated in discrete geographical locations. Computer Integrated Construction (CIC) is the type of innovative integrated information system that helps to reduce the fragmentation and enables the construction stakeholders to collaborate together in the construction projects. Researchers have raised that the concept of CIC has been the subject of research for many years but the uptake of this technology has been very limited because of the development of the technology and its effective implementation. Furthermore, the industrialist and researchers conveyed that the networking, collaboration, information sharing and communication will be popular issues in the future, which can be managed through CIC systems. In order for successful development of the technology, successful delivery and effective implementation of the user and industry-oriented CIC systems, the requirements engineering seems a key parameter. Requirements engineering is the branch of systems engineering and it is related to the issues of the development of the technology and its effective implementation. That is to say, it helps what to develop, how to develop and when to implement. Requirements engineering is concerned with the goals, desired properties and constraints of complex systems such as the CIC systems that involve software systems, organisations and people. Furthermore, it covers all activities related to the acquisition, specification and maintenance of requirements throughout the lifecycle. It also covers how requirements relate to business processes, work redesign, system and software architecture and testing and validation. Therefore, this thesis is about the development of a requirements engineering process through case study research. The case study of the research is the DIVERCITY project, which is the latest CIC development in the area of Construction IT. DIVERCITY was a large EU funded project in the area of construction IT undertaken by a European consortium of researchers and practitioners from the construction industry. DIVERCITY is the acronym for Distributed Virtual Workspace for enhancing Communication within the Construction Industry. The DIVERCITY system presents the mechanism to smoothly and collaboratively conduct the construction projects from early briefing stage to the detailed design stage and even further by the end of the construction phase in construction project lifecycle over an integrated environment. The requirements engineering process that has been developed in the research is targeted at the computer integrated construction (CIC) systems. The key features of the requirements engineering process are the following: (1) ready-to-use, (2) simple, (3) domain specific, (4) adaptable and (5) systematic, (6) integration with the legacy systems. The method has three key constructs: techniques for requirements development, which includes the requirement elicitation, requirements analysis/modelling and requirements validation, requirements documentation and facilitating the requirements management. In short, this thesis focuses on the system development methodologies for the user and industry driven VR based integrated systems development for the construction industry and its theoretical contribution to the fields of Construction IT and Requirements Engineering.