Data standards and data exchange for Construction 4.0

Dennis Shelden, Pieter Pauwels, Pardis Pishdad-Bozorgi, Shu Tang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Today, a new generation of digital technologies is rapidly advancing capabilities in other industry sectors, from health care to transportation. Software is moving to the cloud, involving continuous transactions between remote systems, server based data, and mobile communications. New digitally driven industrial paradigms including the Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain are changing the ways business is being conducted, and promising the next generation of digitally driven efficiency. These advances are beginning to appear in the AEC industries. Software companies are migrating their technologies to the cloud and providing new ways for interfacing with the information generated by their tools. A network of new innovators within professional design and construction companies and at startup companies are developing tools to support aspects of the integrated project workflow. Promising applications of building information are repurposing BIM data into smart building and smart commerce applications. Today’s AEC interoperability standards – developed to support file-based exchange of whole building models – have not kept up with this evolution in technology. In response, a new generation of data exchange standards is currently being designed – one that draws from the architecture and supporting protocols of web- and cloud-services to rethink the base assumptions underlying today’s building oriented open standards. This chapter will provide an overview of building information exchange standards, including motivations and potential, current state, and next generation developments. The basic principles of IFC and its place in the broader stack of open information exchange standards will be provided, along with a discussion of IFC’s current applications and limitations. Alternative data standards and associated information architectures relevant to aspects of Construction 4.0 such as IoT and geospatial systems will be discussed. An overview of modern web services oriented schema, encoding standards, and web services communications protocols from XML and JSON to REST, OWL, and GraphQL will be discussed, with specific focus on current and potential construction applications. Finally, the motivations and potential for a redeveloped open standard for next generation information exchanges will be presented including both the technical underpinnings and the industry economic and collaboration context impacting adoption.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConstruction 4.0: An Innovation Platform for the Built Environment
EditorsAnil Sawhney, Mike Riley, Javier Irizarry
PublisherTaylor and Francis Ltd.
ISBN (Electronic)9780429398100
ISBN (Print)9780367027308
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Building Information Modeling
  • Linked data
  • Standards
  • Construction 4.0


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