Linked data

Linked Data for buildings

A way of structuring data to clarify the relationship between data in a Building Information Model. Due to the linked data structure, a computer is able to answer questions like “How will 10% larger windows affect the cooling need?” Linked data also enable different professionals to work in the same distributed BIM model.

Linked data technology allow construction stakeholders to clarify the links and relations between different types of building data. For example a data point specifying the floor area of a room can be linked directly to data points specifying the room length and room width. Due to the linkage between these data points, design changes to the room width or length will automatically induce changes to the floor area.

Linked data technology can structure complex building data in a way that makes the data understandable to a computer. Consequently, linked data technology can make a computer able to answer questions (queries) posed by a construction professional. During construction design, this may be questions like “What is the total number of rooms in the building?” or “How will 10% larger windows affect the need for cooling and heating?”. When the building is finished, linked building data may be used for answering questions like “Why is this room so cold?” or “When was the ventilation system installed?”.

With linked data technology each data point is only stored in one place, from where it accessible for all stakeholders via a link. This ensures that all stakeholders work with the same basic data and makes it easier to handle changes. To ensure that data is can be transferred between different stakeholders and IT systems, linked data technology rely on standardised data vocabularies and ontologies. An ontology may for instance specify that if a given data set is referred to as a “room”, it will have the relation “part of” to another data set called a “building”.

Benefits and challenges

  • Faster construction process, due to more streamlined work processes
  • Improved collaboration between stakeholders
  • Easier to handle changes to the project during design and construction
  • Optimised facility management as data from several sources are combined
  • Need for strict access control and security protocols to avoid data breaches

Application examples

The Danish engineering consultancy NIRAS is working on creating a common knowledge model for building data. The company has demonstrated the potential of linked building data by using a common knowledge model to automate the work processes involved in dimensioning heating systems (www.niras.dk). 

An online community has linked all the freely available content from Wikipedia. By specifying the links between different data sets, the community has created an complex knowledge graph, called DBPedia. DBPedia can be used to answer complex queries, such as “Give me a list of all cities with low criminality, warm weather and open jobs?” (wiki.dbpedia.org).

Development stage

The technology is still undergoing a lot of research and development. Its potential in construction has just recently been demonstrated.

Construction impact

All phases of construction projects may benefit from linked data.

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Video by Manu Sporny

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http://www.technologycards.net/the-technologies/linked-data-for-buildings
18 OKTOBER 2019