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Ontology‐based information and knowledge management in construction

Chimay J. Anumba (Department of Architectural Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA)
Raja R.A. Issa (M.E. Rinker Sr School of Building Construction, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA)
Jiayi Pan (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA)
Ivan Mutis (School of Construction, The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA)

Construction Innovation

ISSN: 1471-4175

Article publication date: 11 July 2008




There is an increasing recognition of the value of effective information and knowledge management (KM) in the construction project delivery process. Many architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) organisations have invested heavily in information technology and KM systems that help in this regard. While these have been largely successful in supporting intra‐organisational business processes, interoperability problems still persist at the project organisation level due to the heterogeneity of the systems used by the different organisations involved. Ontologies are seen as an important means of addressing these problems. The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of ontologies in the construction project delivery process, particularly with respect to information and KM.


A detailed technical review of the fundamental concepts and related work has been undertaken, with examples and case studies of ontology‐based information and KM presented to illustrate the key concepts. The specific issues and technical difficulties in the design and construction context are highlighted, and the approaches adopted in two ontology‐based applications for the AEC sector are presented.


The paper concludes that there is considerable merit in ontology‐based approaches to information and KM, but that significant technical challenges remain. Middleware applications, such as semantic web‐based information management system, are contributing in this regard but more needs to be done particularly on integrating or merging ontologies.


The value of the paper lies in the detailed exploration of ontology‐based information and KM within a design and construction context, and the use of appropriate examples and applications to illustrate the key issues.



Anumba, C.J., Issa, R.R.A., Pan, J. and Mutis, I. (2008), "Ontology‐based information and knowledge management in construction", Construction Innovation, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 218-239.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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