Context-aware information delivery for mobile construction workers
The potential of mobile Information Technology (IT) applications to support the information needs of mobile construction workers has long been understood. However, existing mobile IT applications in the construction industry have underlined limitations, including their inability to respond to the changing user context, lack of semantic awareness and poor integration with the desktop-based infrastructure. This research argues that awareness of the user context (such as user role, preferences, task-at-hand, location, etc.) can enhance mobile IT applications in the construction industry by providing a mechanism to deliver highly specific information to mobile workers by intelligent interpretation of their context. Against this this background, the aim of this research was to investigate the applicability of context-aware information delivery (CAID) technologies in the construction industry. The research methodology adopted consisted of various methods. A literature review on context-aware and enabling technologies was undertaken and a conceptual framework developed, which addressed the key issues of context-capture, contextinference and context-integration. To illustrate the application of CAID in realistic construction situations, five futuristic deployment scenarios were developed which were analysed with several industry and technology experts. From the analysis, a common set of user needs was drawn up. These needs were subsequently translated into the system design goals, which acted as a key input to the design and evaluation of a prototype system, which was implemented on a Pocket-PC platform. The main achievements of this research include development of a CAID framework for mobile construction workers, demonstration of CAID concepts in realistic construction scenarios, analysis of the Construction industry needs for CAID and implementation and validation of the prototype to demonstrate the CAID concepts. The research concludes that CAID has the potential to significantly improve support for mobile construction workers and identifies the requirements for its effective deployment in the construction project delivery process. However, the industry needs to address various identified barriers to enable the realisation of the full potential of CAID.