A Web-based approach to publish and manage building information online in a distributed manner emerged as the central result from the DRUM work package of RYM PRE. It turned out that this Web of Building Data approach has the potential to make the building information much more usable across different stakeholders and in new innovative applications. In the future networked society where Web is becoming central to everything the ability to connect building information to other data and make it easily accessible greatly increases its value.
The decentralized, Web-based approach conforms well to existing organizations and practices in construction industry, and can be adopted without major changes in existing processes of construction projects. Cross-model linking can support inter-enterprise workflows, information aggregation for analyzes and summaries, and advanced change management protocols. It enables the linking of building information models to and from external data sources, and open access to relevant parts of building data over the lifecycle of a building. It has a great potential to foster the evolution of a building-related data and.
One of the main advantages of Web of Building Data is the compatibility with distributed nature of building industry and building projects. Data related to the building produced and maintained by numerous different parties cannot be managed in a centralized manner nor with point-to-point file-based exchanges. Distributed publication is more scalable to large number of parties and datasets as it requires neither huge central servers nor a quadratic number of point-to-point exchanges. Distributed publication has also low adoption threshold since simultaneous changes to existing processes are not necessary. The master data remains in the native models of the BIM tools which is important for flexible change management. The distributed online publication of datasets combines the advantages of the other approaches: easy publishing and clear ownership of data.
The most important characteristics of Web of Building Data are granular publishing and linking between datasets. All objects that had a GUID in an IFC model, can be directly and efficiently accessed using the corresponding URI. Individual objects in different models that describe the same physical entity, can be linked across the datasets. This means, firstly, that published objects can be referred to in external datasets, documents, and messages. Secondly, it implies that the complete dataset does not need to be transferred to – and processed by – parties that only need to access small parts of it. Granular publishing and linking between datasets are important enablers for workflow functionalities that need to access only particular properties of individual entities distributed in different datasets. The size of the complete model is not a significant problem since the complete model does not need to serialized into one huge file but is only accessed in a piecemeal fashion.
The information accessible through the links can be used in many innovative ways.When published online, a read-only version of a dataset can be made easily accessible to different parties using standard Web tools. In addition, the published dataset is always the most recent version of the model and the same one for all parties. This will alleviate the problems of obsolete or incompatible versions, even though it does not totally remove them. Since the data is semantic there are opportunities to develop sophisticated automated functionalities in a generic manner. Various kinds of checking, comparison, filtering, aggregation, notification, and integration tools and services can be implemented. All kinds of interesting patterns of data can be queried since the relations and properties of objects are commonly known.
Web of Building Data approach has a great potential in improving the current inefficient document based building processes. The new technology for delivering the up-to-date information between building process stakeholders can enable development of efficient information based processes in the construction industry. The ongoing research, standardization and development activities around Web of Data technology gives a reason to believe that the potential will be realized in future.