Construction project information management in a semantic web environment
Modem construction projects, characterised by severe fragmentation from both geographical and disciplinary perspectives, require accurate and timely sharing of information. Traditional information management systems operate on a textual basis and do not always consider the meaning of information. Current web-based information management technology supports information communication to a reasonable extent but still has many limitations, such as the lack of semanticawareness and poor interoperability of software applications. This research argues that Semantic Web technologies can enhance the efficiency of information management in construction projects by providing content-based and contextspecific information to project team members, and supporting the interoperation between independent applications. A Semantic Web-based Information Management System (Sams) for construction projects was created to demonstrate the above concept. The approach adopted for this research involved creating a new framework for Semantic Web-based information management. This extensible system framework enables the system to merge diverse construction information sources, ontologies and end-user applications into the overall Semantic Web environment. The semantic components developed in this research included a project document's annotation model, a project partner's user profile model, and several lightweight IFC-based ontologies for documented information management. This supports intelligent information management and interoperation between heterogeneous information sources and applications. The system framework, prototype annotations, and ontologies were applied to a concept demonstrator that illustrated how the project documents were annotated, accessed, converted, categorised, and retrieved on the basis of content and context. The demonstrator (named SwiMS) acts as a middleware, which mediates between user needs and the information sources. Information in project partners' documents were mapped and accessed intelligently. This involved the use of rule-based filtering and thus prevented the users from being overwhelmed by irrelevant documents or missing relevant ones in heterogeneous and distributed information sources. It also enabled the adaptation of documents to individual contexts and preferences, and the dynamic composition of various document management services. Evaluation of the system framework and demonstrator revealed that the system enhances the efficiency of construction information management, with the three most beneficial areas being project knowledge management, collaborative design and communication between project team members. The Swims annotations, ontologies and deductive rules are important technologies provide an innovative approach to managing construction information. These enable the information in construction documents, both structured documents and un-structured documents, to be interpretable by computers. This ensures the efficiency and precision of construction information management.