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The difficulty of timely retrieval of useful information from heterogeneous data sources is a major cause of low productivity in the construction industry. The goal of this research is to provide a new methodology to handle the data-heterogeneity problems encountered in a construction project. This research proposes a tree-structured product model, which binds design knowledge, cost data and schedule data together, as a feasible solution for the data integration problem in construction projects. The methodology uses the knowledge representation of construction projects based on an ontology. Metadata are used to describe the conceptual structure of the project knowledge. The concept of views is used to answer particular queries from different domains.
A general methodology is under development to support queries about a particular construction project from different user perspectives based on heterogeneous construction data sources in a dynamic environment. The research is composed of two major parts: (1) organize the heterogeneous construction data into a tree structure; and (2) retrieve information and obtain domain views by specifying the ways of traversing the tree. The future goal is to develop a prototype that will support some of the major functions needed in today’s construction projects. Functional examples are used to demonstrate the validity of the proposed methodology.