Improving knowledge management in construction industry by combining ontology with collaborative technologies

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The concept of knowledge management has been introduced to the construction industry for many years. Recently, its importance is more recognized as modern construction projects are more complex and globalized. Managing knowledge assets is a challenge, especially in the construction industry, as it is characterized as a project-based business which delivers one-of-a-kind product, and it has a highly fragmented working environment. While explicit knowledge has been handled by many existing commercial project information management systems, tacit knowledge is more difficult to handle because of its intangible nature, and so far very few computer systems have attempted to handle tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is usually created and transferred in a social environment, and maintained mainly in human's head. Therefore a combination of a group of advanced IT technologies should be adopted for efficient knowledge manipulating. In this research, web-based collaborative system, blogging technology, domain ontology and semantic web environment are used together to provide technology support for knowledge management. The original contribution of this research is that it demonstrates the effectiveness of using construction domain ontology in semantic blogging to promote knowledge sharing. While focusing on technology support, this research also investigates appropriate KM framework and system architecture for small and medium sized construction organizations. A prototype knowledge management system is proposed and implemented; some knowledge management cases are presented to demonstrate how the proposed KM framework and advanced IT tools could help the KM process in the construction industry.
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