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Project acronym: eConstruct

Project full title: Electronic Business in the Building and Construction Industry: Preparing for the New Internet

Result: Building-Construction eXtensible Mark-up Language: "bcXML"

Project summary: The eConstruct project aims to develop, implement, demonstrate and disseminate a new Communication Technology for the European Building-Construction industry, called Building-Construction eXtensible Mark-up Language (bcXML). This Communication Technology will provide the European Building and Construction industry with a powerful but low cost communication infrastructure that: (1) Supports electronic business between Clients, Architects and Engineers, Suppliers (of components, systems and services), Contractors and Subcontractors, (2) Is integrated with eCommerce and Design/Engineering applications, and (3) Supports virtual construction enterprises over the boarders of the individual European member states.

Objectives: The objective of the eConstruct project is to help the European Building and Construction industry to build faster, cheaper and better, by developing, demonstrating and disseminating a new Communication Technology (CT) that is specifically tailored to the needs of the industry. Although Internet (plus Intranet and Extranet) potentially forms the ideal open, low-cost communication platform for the BC industry, in practise Internet is currently only used in a limited way. The most important reasons are: insecurity, insufficient bandwidth and insufficient structuring of information. Especially "insufficient information structuring" because the current Internet language HTML only supports freeform data exchange. eConstruct will develop the Internet (XML)-based Building-Construction eXtensible Mark-up Language (bcXML) that will address all problems mentioned above by providing the right information infrastructure for this industry. Moreover, eConstruct will contribute to the development of a true European Building and Construction industry. This objective will be realised by supporting national language and classification specific views on the project information for project partners of different member states, and a common Virtual Reality front-end for Concurrent or Co-operative design, engineering and construction of large-scale (inter)national projects that is real-time accessible by all the parties involved.

Description of work: XML (eXtensible Mark-up Language), the successor of HTML, supports the development of domain specific languages called 'XML vocabularies' that are tailored to the particular needs and terms used in a domain. eConstruct wants to develop such an XML vocabulary, called bcXML including a number of national flavours specific for the European BC industry. bcXML is semantically rich and supports many of the notions used in practise. The semantics included in bcXML will support electronic business communication about construction products, resources, work methods, regulations and much more. Though developed as part of bcXML, the semantics, including the language translations will be developed in a separate part that acts as a "neutral" classification system providing classification-neutral object identifications. This component will help to solve one of the biggest obstacles the European Building and Construction industry is facing, i.e. the fact that the Information Systems (all the information and knowledge related to building and construction) of all the European countries are different. These differences stem from language differences and from differences in the national classification systems which define the BC semantics. If eConstruct is successful in developing a tool that supports both language and classification conversion and this tool (or tool set) can be applied in bcXML-based communications co-operation and electronic business between participants in international projects will be greatly stimulated.

By applying XML technology, bcXML-based electronic communication will be fast, open, secure, inexpensive, and widely available and applicable. eConstruct will develop a cluster of three related bcXML-based applications that support the supply chain and the execution of large-scale projects involving partners from multiple member states and are of enough interest to boost its application in industry.

eConstruct will co-operate with other organisations that develop XML vocabularies for electronic business for the Building and Construction industry, i.e., the aecXML working group initiated by Bentley Systems in the USA and the ebXML organisation initiated by UN/CEFACT and OASIS.

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