Three-Dimensional Information Retrieval (3DIR): Exploiting 3D Geometry and Model Topology in Information Retrieval from BIM Environments

Three-Dimensional Information Retrieval (3DIR): Exploiting 3D Geometry and Model Topology in Information Retrieval from BIM Environments

Peter Demian (Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK), Kirti Ruikar (Department of Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK), Tarun Sahu (Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, Guwahati, India) and Anne Morris (Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/IJ3DIM.2016010105

Abstract

An increasing amount of information is packed into BIMs, with the 3D geometry serving as a central index leading to other information. The 3DIR project investigates information retrieval from such environments. Here, the 3D visualization can be exploited when formulating queries, computing the relevance of information items, or visualizing search results. The need for such a system was specified using workshops with end users. A prototype was built on a commercial BIM platform. Following an evaluation, the system was enhanced to exploit model topology. Relationships between 3D objects are used to widen the search, whereby relevant information items linked to a related 3D object (rather than linked directly to objects selected by the user) are still retrieved but ranked lower. An evaluation of the enhanced prototype demonstrates its effectiveness but highlights its added complexity. Care needs to be taken when exploiting topological relationships, but that a tight coupling between text-based retrieval and the 3D model is generally effective in information retrieval from BIMs.
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Building design, construction and operation are information intensive activities. For example, even over a decade ago in the UK construction industry, on average, one computer-aided design (CAD) document was produced for every 9 m2 of building floor space (Gray and Hughes, 2001). Several researchers (Leslie, 1996; Veeramani and Russell, 2000; Ugwu, 2005) have reported the problem of “information overload” in the construction sector.

It is interesting to put this construction problem of “information overload” within the context of information in modern life. The vast amounts of information available and the unprecedented ease with which information can be stored and transmitted in our current “information age” make information retrieval and information management very important everyday challenges. For example, Lyman and Varian (2003) estimated that in 2002 five exabytes (1018 bytes) of new information was produced by human activity. More recently, Bohn and Short (2009) analysed numerical data from the US Census and estimated that the average American in 2008 consumed information for 12 hours per day, corresponding to 100,500 words and 34 gigabytes per person per day. Although only peripherally relevant, the question of how much information exists in the world is useful for putting the research presented here in context. Hilbert (2012) provides an information theoretic and methodological discussion about the challenges of quantifying information, and notes the limitations of this kind of research.

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