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Implementing a prototype computer integrated construction environment Gorlick, Andrew L.

Abstract

Construction projects rely on a large body of information produced by many sources at many levels of abstraction and detail. This is a major contributing factor to the fragmentation of construction data. One possible solution to this fragmentation is Computer Integrated Construction (CIC). CIC provides methods for handling the information generated throughout the lifecycle of a project. The Construction Management Group at the University of British Columbia has developed a model for computer integration called Total Project Systems (TOPS). TOPS is a conceptual model with the potential to provide the basis for the development of a new class of CIC environments that are comprehensive, integrated, and flexible. Therefore, the main goal of this research was to develop a prototype CIC system based on the TOPS model and then to test the system to determine if the TOPS model provides a suitable basis for the development of the next generation of CIC systems. The main approach was to develop a TOPS Implementation Prototype (TIP). This prototype was a multi-tiered architecture with repository technology at the core providing the persistence management functions. The TIP adopted an open, modular, and non-proprietary architecture so that any application could 'plug-in' to the system via standard TIP interfaces. The TIP also supported an architecture capable of being distributed via the Internet. Repository technology was used to create a robust, integrated data source for the TIP. Repository technology is an innovative database technology developed by the software industry. It further enhanced the TIP architecture by making it extensible and by supporting data evolution and the dynamic development of project schemas (i.e. schema evolution) without destroying information already stored in the database. The TIP was successfully implemented and both a generic data browser application and a specific project management tool (a short cycle scheduling application) were constructed to test the potential of the prototype. The system performed well (given its prototype nature) and provided useful results on the TOPS approach for developing future integrated construction environments.

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