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Computational Science, Engineering & Technology Series
ISSN 1759-3158
Edited by: B.H.V. Topping
Chapter 1

Internet Information and Communication Systems for Civil Engineering: A Review

Z. Turk

Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Full Bibliographic Reference for this chapter
Z. Turk, "Internet Information and Communication Systems for Civil Engineering: A Review", in B.H.V. Topping, (Editor), "Civil and Structural Engineering Computing: 2001", Saxe-Coburg Publications, Stirlingshire, UK, Chapter 1, pp 1-26, 2001. doi:10.4203/csets.5.1
Keywords: civil engineering, construction, information technology, communication technology, communication revolution, internet, world wide web.

Throughout history, information and communication technologies have been supporting building projects. The paper first introduces the concept of the communication revolutions and analyses how they influenced the construction profession. It then defines the modern understanding of the terms and concepts, proposes a taxonomy of communication types and groups them into four application areas: (1) to deliver information, (2) to enable collaboration and (3) commerce and (4) to provide a platform where the core engineering work gets done. The four are merging into a single platform.

A popular understanding of human history refers to the three major revolutions the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution0 and the computer or the information revolution. To understand the role and importance of the Internet and other communication technologies the author suggests to look at communication revolutions:

Figure 1.1: The communication revolutions and paradigms of construction.

The first is the writing revolution. The second can be called the paper and print revolution and happened in the 15th and 16th century. Several related inventions such as scaled and perspective drawings enabled advances in all fields of technology, including civil engineering. For the next 500 years, the media to store information remained to be material - usually paper. Due to the invention of steam and diesel engines, paper moved around faster and faster, but the electronic revolution, with the invention of telegraph and telephone, and then radio and TV, finally de-materialised the media and begun moving information around at the speed of light. Finally the various types and media for information storage and exchange are being digitised which we may call the digital revolution. The communication revolutions delimit the three paradigms of construction (Figure 1.1).

The digital revolution introduced several new technologies along the following topics: to support collaboration through collaboration and information sharing, to support eBusiness and to support core engineering work such as designing. The four kinds of technologies are merging into one seamless platform. In Figure 1.2 they are positioned according to their complexity on the vertical, and according to the specialisation on the horizontal axis.

Figure 1.2: The evolution of Internet technologies for civil engineering over the last decade.

Because the products of civil engineers are unique and because they are built by a unique team of partners, communication is perhaps more important in civil engineering that other industries. To date, systematic studies of communication systems, person to person relations, teambuilding etc. have not been in the focus of the research of the construction industry.

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