Towards a Decentralised Common Data Environment using Linked Building Data and the Solid Ecosystem

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Towards a Decentralised Common Data Environment using Linked Building Data and the Solid Ecosystem

The article is Open Access. It was originally published on September 2019 on Research Gate. Link to article.

With the emergence of Building Information Modelling (BIM), the construction industry is rapidly catching up with the digital revolution that has boosted productivity in virtually all economic sectors. In current practice, the focus of BIM lies on exchange of documents, often through proprietary formats exchanged using the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC). However, with web technologies such as RDF, OWL and SPARQL, a data-and web-based BIM paradigm becomes within reach. The decentralisation of data and decoupling of information and applications will enhance a more general adoption of Big Open BIM, and is expected to lower the BIM threshold for smaller companies that are active in different phases of the building life cycle. Since one of the promises of the Semantic Web and Linked Data is a highly improved interoperability between different disciplines, it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel for the setup of an infrastructure that supports such a network of decentralised tools and data. In this paper, we evaluate the specifications provided by the Solid project (Inrupt Inc.), a Linked Data-based ecosystem for Social Linked Data. Although the exemplary use case of the Solid ecosystem is decentralisation of data and applications for social network purposes, we notice a considerable overlap with recent ambitions and challenges for a web-based AECO industry (Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Operation). This includes standardised data representations, role-or actor-based authorisation and authentication and the need for modular and extensible applications, dedicated to a specific use case. After a brief introduction to Linked Data and its applications in the building industry, we discuss present solutions for building data management (Common Data Environments, multi-models, etc.). In order to translate these approaches towards a Linked Data context with minimal effort and maximal effect, we then review the Solid specifications for use in a construction-oriented web ecosystem. As a proof of concept, we discuss the setup of a web-service for creation and management of Linked Building Data, generated with the Solid-React generator. This application is envisaged as a bridge between the multiple data stores of different project stakeholders and the end user. It acts as an interface to a distributed Common Data Environment that also allows the generation of multi-models.

Jeroen Werbrouck (*1,2), Pieter Pauwels (*2), Jakob Beetz (*1), Léon van Berlo (*3)

*1 RWTH Aachen University
*2 Ghent University
*3 Netherlands organisation for applied scientific research - TNO