The UK’s Construction Knowledge Task Group has published a metadata standard for discoverable construction knowledge.
The first industry-wide standard to make construction knowledge more discoverable has been published. It has been developed by the UK’s Construction Knowledge Task Group (CKTG), comprising representatives from design firms, contractors, manufacturers, professional institutions, industry organisations, universities, publishers, and the Designing Buildings wiki.
A 2018 survey by the CKTG revealed that 38% of practitioners did not have easy access to the knowledge they needed to do their jobs (read survey results). The CKTG then set about developing a new metadata standard. It aimed to help practitioners find the knowledge they need, when they need it, making it easier for them to keep up-to-date, follow best practice, adopt innovations and comply with standards.
Designing Buildings founder Gregor Harvie likens the potential impact of this standard to the way that IFC and COBie have revolutionised BIM and digital engineering (in 2019, DB launched its ‘BIM Wiki’, having , in September 2017, identified the disconnected nature of BIM knowledge). He says:
“It’s time to stop publishing construction knowledge in dumb formats that are just digital versions of paper documents. This new standard means knowledge will come out of the dark ages and become a smart, structured resource that can be found and managed intelligently, supporting people as they work. BIM has already made this change for data and information; it’s time for knowledge to catch up.”
Discoverable Construction Knowledge
Work progressed through 2019 and into 2020, and was led by Tom Bartley, founder and CEO of tech startup Barbal, who obtained funding from the Lloyds Register Foundation with the support of the Open Data Institute. Barbal provides cloud software for collaborating on technical documents such as contracts, specifications and policies, and supports professional communities to develop and publish new data standards for digital transformation.
The new standard can be used to identify construction knowledge resources, to define their type, subject and location, and to describe the circumstances in which they might be useful. Industry adoption of the standard will allow the creation of tools that can search, filter and manage all construction knowledge, whatever its source, and to integrate it into project environments.
The standard (see specification) includes two mandatory fields (title, location), 11 recommended fields, and 16 that are optional. The schema is based on the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (a widely used system recognised by Google and other major search engines; see Wikipedia) and extended with construction-specific elements such as the Uniclass 2015 classification system.
The CKTG says industry publishers should apply the standard to their knowledge, and calls for technology providers to create new tools to help practitioners use that knowledge.
Barbal’s Bartley said:
“We’ve made this standard as easy to adopt as possible. There are just two fields that need to be added to construction knowledge to make it discoverable. Then there are a number of optional fields that can be added depending on the needs of the publisher and their audience. The standard can be adopted by traditional publishers, and by practitioner organisations who want to share their knowledge externally or organise their internal knowledge in a more structured way.”