Construction Informatics Newsletter 2005
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Introduction : If the 2004 was a year of plans and ideas, in the 2005 we had to roll up our sleeves and start delivering on the expectations and promises. The Chair of Construction Informatics has a leading role on three EU projects - the coordination of FP6-InteliGrid and technical coordination of FP6-DataMiningGrid, each worth 2-3 million Euro - as well as the technical coordination of the eContenet project CONNIE. Add another eContent project reUse, a couple of national projects as well as the day to day teaching, the editorial and electronic publishing work, and it be-comes clear we had little time to rest - well, one exception is on the picture overleaf.
Construction informatics, as a field of science, is maturing, but it keeps looking at related fields of research for inspiration. Such fields are computer science, where we are seeing a returning interest in intelligent computing, now in the form of semantic systems, and virtual organi-zation research that is finally getting some solid IT foundation in the web and grid services technologies. Being active in all these fields we are trying to bridge between the communities - telling computer science what we feel is relevant for the day-day engineering and trying to sell the brilliant ideas of the researchers to an industry that very few would consider high-tech.
Tight project and contract schedules did not allow us to properly nurture all the contacts we gained over the years; on the other hand, en-tering new fields was an opportunity to meet new friends. We look forward to staying in touch and wish you all the best in the coming year!
dr. Žiga Turk (chair), dr. Tomo Cerovšek , dr. Matevž Dolenc, Anton Kajzar, Robert Klinc, dr Iztok Kovačič (vice chair),
mag. Vid Marolt, Damjan Murn, Tomaž Pazlar, Etiel Petrinja, mag. Vlado Stankovski, Mateja Šmid, Jernej Trnkoczy, Andrej Vitek
InteliGrid (Interoperability of Virtual Organizations on a Complex Semantic Grid) – www.InteliGrid.com – is an EU IST FP6 project developing grid technologies to provide an interoperability platform to engineering.
As civil engineers we are well aware how grids evolved through time. Centuries ago, people would need to walk to a spring or the village well to get the water for cooking and washing. Later they would each dig their own wells or build cisterns colleting rainwater for their own needs. Finally the water-grid was built, bringing opulent amounts of clean, safe drinking water to anyone. Computing evolved much in the same pattern. Our older colleagues from the Institure of structural engineering, earthquake engineering and computing that pioneered the use of computers in engineering in Yugoslavia still remember carrying punched cards to a data centre for processing. Today we all have each our personal computer and companies have their own computing centres with services and number crunching cluster. Our computing and storage capacity is limited by what we have installed in-house. Grids are supposed to deliver on-demand IT resources from geographically distributed resources. IT, however, is a bit more complicated that water and it is much more that the industry would like to have access to than just CPUs and storage. In engineering we are not all that much interested in a virtual organization (VO) sharing its resources but rather in a VO contributing efforts to deliver a product or a service. Such VOs are interested in high level resources. In fact, all of IT is just a resource in performing their core business and typically the technical solution (grid, web, LAN) is not of primary importance. It is the business function that is vital.
In InteliGrid we believe that the applicability of the grid in the day-day business depends on whether the grid infrastructure can be made domain specific and offer domain specific resources. Central to such understanding of a grid is an architecture that bridges between domain and IT concepts. A system that not only models the real world, but the virtual organization, including its IT infrastructure.
This is reflected in the InteliGrid architecture which is a generic services-oriented architecture that makes a distinction between the real world, conceptual layer, software implementing the concepts and IT infrastructure on which the software is running and communicating. Conceptually InteliGrid spans the semantic web stack and distinguishes between global domain concepts, local domain concepts and IT concepts.
In addition to the architecture, most of the work in InteliGrid in the first year was related to the definition of requirements, user scenarios and the setting up of the first prototypes. We defined the "5S" requirements that our users consider essential: (1) security - industry eager to move to a ground-up secure environment, (2) simplicity - must work seamlessly with current client applications and operating systems, (3) stability & standards, (4) scalable service orientation and (5) semantics.
InteliGrid consortium set up an Industrial Advisory board that is, together with the clients of our industrial partners, reviewing our work and helping us in identifying what is really important. This includes companies such as Centro Ricerche Fiat, CognoVis, Airbus Industries and others. The InteliGrid team includes Technical University Dresden (Germany), VTT (Finland), ESoCE Net (Italy), Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center (Poland), Obermeyer Planen + Beraten (Germany), Sofistik Hellas (Greece), EPM (Norway) and Conject AG (Germany).
DataMiningGrid (Data Mining Tools and Services for Grid Computing Environments) – www.DataMiningGrid.org – is an EU IST FT6 project. The project is lead by University of Ulster and includes three other renowned partners: Daimler Chrysler, Germany; Fraunhofer Institute, Germany and Technion University, Israel.
Data mining has been recognized as one of the most important information technologies for automating the process of analysing and interpreting the data in modern knowledge industries and high-tech sectors such as science and engineering. On the other hand next-generation grid technologies promise to provide the necessary infrastructure facilitating a seamless sharing of computing resources in complex problem-solving environments. Currently there exists no coherent framework for developing and deploying data-mining applications on the grid. The DataMiningGrid project is addressing this gap by developing generic and sector-independent data mining tools and services for the grid and therefore provide the possibility to exploit grid technology for data mining purposes. In the year of 2005 the first half of the project was successfully completed. During the review in October 2005, the demonstrators of the developed technology were presented.
CONNIE (Construction News and Information Electronically) – www.euroregs.org/index.jsp – EU e-Content project delivering pan-European access to building regulations and standards through a network of European services covering all partner countries. The CONNIE projects and consortium builds on the tradition of the CONNET and I-SEEK projects. The CONNIE approach is novel in several ways: it is based on a conceptual development approach: it is a network of decentralized information portals with a flexible architectural foundation that provides new B2B and B2C internet business models based on advanced data exchange. The framework for the development is defined through CONNIE Commons that have led to an architecture addressing specific content mapping through the proposed networked services based on CONNIE Commons.
The CONNIE system requirements are based on: (a) common types of information and needs; (b) common types of users, (c) common context, and (d) common IPR issues. The solutions are built around common data models common APIs, common syntax and common graphical user interfaces.
Coordinated by the BRE, UK, 11 partners from 8 countries, EU funding: 2.4 M€.
reUSE (Reuse Digital Master Files of Printed Material) – is a cooperative project of national libraries and universities and their libraries from Austria, Estonia, Germany and Slovenia funded through the European Commission eContent Programme. It allows us to continue the research related to electronic publishing that started with the EU project SCIX (Open, self organizing repository for scientific information exchange) in 2003. The project goals are (1) to collect and make available in digital form printed publications of public sector institutions, (2) to archive them for their long-term preservation and (3) to develop an evaluation framework which will provide valuable information to the libraries that would like to implement similar repositories in their countries.
In 2005 reUSE demonstrators successfully implemented their trusted digital repositories and by December 2005 the evaluation of digital repositories within the reUSE project was finished. Three main issues were evaluated: repositories, organizational environment and long-term preservation availability. This data will serve as the basis for other European parties interested in the outcomes of the project. Overall aim of the evaluation is to make user-centred repositories which will be at the same time most efficient in technical and organizational regards.
We have been increasingly thinking about the role of IT in the reformed bologna curriculum. Today, the two professors and two assistants are involved in about a dozen different courses in the graduate and undergraduate program at the Faculty - but the main understanding is that computers are just a tool, like they were 20 years ago. Things have changed since and so we hope will the role of this kind of education. In 2005 we were mentors or co-mentors to one Ph.d. and seven B.Sc. theses and Prof. Turk continued his visiting professorships in Istanbul and Zagreb.The European Master Course in Construction IT started in 2004/2005. The courses are given on-line using distance learning technology. The small number of students was somehow compensated by their enthusiasm.
IFOW01 - Industry Foundation Ontology Workshop. In May we invited to Ljubljana a few key people with backgrounds in conceptual modelling, classification systems, STEP and the IFCs to examine if one could achieve what could be the semantic glue between the divergent approaches to structure engineering information. The results still wait for a time slot to be written up as a paper.
Grids for Business: Challenges at the Turning Point" was a session organised withing the eChallenges conference in October in Ljubljana.
Grid Technology: Infrastructure and Applications was the title of a national grid workshop organised during the eChallenges conference. The primary goals were knowledge transfer about grid technology to the general public, the industry and the scientists in Slovenia.
eConstruction programme continued in its second year, scoring much better in the national SCI/IF publication count.
Targeted research projects. We coordinated GRIDFORUM.SI - Grid infrastructure for virtual organizations - www.GridForum.si that ended with the final report in the fall. We are partners in AgentGrid: Design of multi-agent systems in grid environments and the project SiGNet: Development and implementation of grid technologies in the context of the European project EGEE with transfer to the Slovene e-environment.
We provide 57 different websites (at least this is the number of domains on our main server, quite a few are very small or restricted to intra-project use, but some are quite relevant - linked from http://itc.fgg.uni-lj.si/). After running dirt cheap Intel boxes for our servers for years we finally invested in an upscale machine with RAID disks. One of the many services offered is the ITcon Journal that celebrated its 10th anniversary volume in 2005.
Members of the group travelled to conferences, project meetings or academic visits to Brussels, Istanbul, Zagreb, Dresden, Brussels (again), Las Vegas, Munich, Brussels (and again), Rome, Cracow, Cancun, Vienna, Poznan, Dagstuhl, Brussels (ok, we'll stop now, you got the point) Zagreb, Tokio, Innsbruck, Nice, Beljak-Villach … Nassfeld?