< Digital Construction Ontologies (DiCon)
language en

Digital Construction Ontologies (DiCon)

This version


Previous version



Ontology Specification Draft


Seppo Törmä

Terminology for the representation of digitalized construction and renovation processes

Digital Construction Ontologies (DiCon) are an enabler for the semantic interoperability between systems in the construction and renovation domain. They define the basic terms related to built assets, building design, construction project planning, and construction planning, including the agents, resources and spatio-temporal aspects. The definitions rely heavily on standards (ISO 19650 BIM/IM, ISO 16739-1 IFC, ISO/IEC 21838-2 BFO and ISO 21597-1 ICDD) and on established ontologies (such as OWL-Time, PROV-O and SSN/SOSA). The correspondances of Digital Construction Ontologies with other ontologies are provided explicitly in separate alignment modules.

The objective of DiCon is specifically to support the representation of digitalized construction processes. Digital technologies are increasingly used in all stages of construction lifecycle, from scanning, building information modeling and procurement to supply-chain management and construction management. Mobile devices, sensors and imaging solutions provide a flood of instantaneous data from the project execution. The variety, volume, and velocity of digital information are growing, which calls for automatization of information sharing between tasks and systems, since manual processing steps are becoming increasingly restrictive bottlenecks. Digital Construction Ontologies are designed to provide a common terminology needed for machine-to-machine information flows.

Digitalized construction projects can employ a wide range of task-specific point solutions that can significantly enhance the productivity and quality of individual tasks. However, the improvement of overall construction productivity depends crucially on what happens between the tasks: how the information produced in one task is utilized in other tasks. By improving the semantic interoperability, the Digital Construction Ontologies are an enabler for smoother information sharing and eventually higher productivity and quality of construction and renovation projects.

Overview of ontology modules and alignments

Digital Construction Ontologies contain three kinds of modules: (1) ontology modules contain class and property definitions, (2) vocabularies of individuals consisting of instances of the classes defined in the ontologies, and (3) alignment modules, each of which imports both an DiCon ontology module and an external ontology, and specifies a set of alignment axioms to connect the terms of the imported ontologies with each other.

The arrows in the figure below show the owl:import relations among the three kinds of modules. The direction of an arrow is always from the importing module to the imported module (that is, the owl:imports statement is in the module at the base of the arrow). In DiCon, the references to external ontologies are contained in the alignment modules, with the exception of referencies to individuals specified in external vocabularies (most notably the QUDT vocabularies).

DiCon is modularized using the vertical and horizontal segmentation approach of the Semantic Sensor Network Ontology. In the vertical dimension, a new module imports the previous one and deepens the representation of the underlying domain by defining additional subclasses, properties, restrictions, or alignments (therefore, an alignment is always means vertical segmentation). In the horizontal dimension, a new module broadens the domain by defining classes complementary to the previous ontology as well as properties to connect them to the previous concepts.

In the vertical dimension, the new module should support selected use cases better, having perhaps a narrower user base when compared to the previous module, while horizontal segmentation should extend the set of supported use cases, therefore broadening the potential user base. In the diagram below, the blue rectangles represent the modules of DiCon (the light-blue ones are vocabularies of individuals), green boxes are alignment modules, and the white boxes at top are external ontologies.

Ontology modules at https://w3id.org/digitalconstruction/0.5/

The table below lists all the DiCon ontology modules (for classes and properties), vocabularies of individuals, and alignment modules for mappings to external ontologies. The namespace and the suggested prefix for each ontology modules is provided.

Ontology namespace Prefix Description
Contexts https://w3id.org/digitalconstruction/0.5/Contexts# dicc: Multi-contexts data: planned/actual, as-designed/as-built, levels of detail
Variables https://w3id.org/digitalconstruction/0.5/Variables# dicv: Objectified properties for time varying values, constraints and value metadata
Entities https://w3id.org/digitalconstruction/0.5/Entities# dice: Basic categories with identifiers, classifications, breakdowns, and groupings
Processes https://w3id.org/digitalconstruction/0.5/Processes# dicp: Activities and resources, resource assignments, and objects of activities
Agents https://w3id.org/digitalconstruction/0.5/Agents# dica: Actors, stakeholders, roles, legal persons, capabilities, capacities
Information https://w3id.org/digitalconstruction/0.5/Information# dici: Information content entities, information containers, designs, plans, events, and issues
Materials https://w3id.org/digitalconstruction/0.5/Materials# dicbm: Building materials, material object structures, material properties and material bacthes
Occupancy https://w3id.org/digitalconstruction/0.5/Occupancy# dicob: Occupant behavior, comfort, safety and health; indoor air quality and building acoustics
Lifecycle https://w3id.org/digitalconstruction/0.5/Lifecycle# dicl: Evolution of information through LOD levels and over the construction lifecycle
Energy https://w3id.org/digitalconstruction/0.5/Energy# dices: Energy efficiency including energy systems
Vocabularies of individuals
Units https://w3id.org/digitalconstruction/0.5/Units# dicu: Vocabulary of units and quantity kinds specific to construction and renovation
Levels https://w3id.org/digitalconstruction/0.5/Levels# diclvl: Vocabulary of LOD levels based on established frameworks in EU, IT, UK and USA
Stages https://w3id.org/digitalconstruction/0.5/Stages# dicstg: Vocabulary of lifecycle stages based on the frameworks of ISO 22263, RIBA, and HOAI
Alignment/BFO BFO http://purl.obolibrary.org/obo/ obo: Fundamental categories (ISO/IEC 21838-2)
Alignment/QUDT QUDT http://qudt.org/2.1/schema/qudt qudt: Quantities, units of measurement, dimension vectors, and datatypes
Alignment/OPM OPM http://www.w3id.org/opm# opm: Objectified property states with value calculation
Alignment/WGS84 wgs84_pos http://www.w3.org/2003/01/geo/wgs84_pos# geo: Basic geolocation for spatially-located things
Alignment/IFC ifcOWL https://standards.buildingsmart.org
ifcowl: BIM models based on IFC4 ADD2 TC1 (ISO 16739-1:2018)
Alignment/BOT BOT https://w3id.org/bot# bot: Building Topology Ontology
Alignment/OWLTime OWL-Time https://www.w3.org/2006/time/ time: Time intervals and time instants
Alignment/FOAF FOAF http://xmlns.com/foaf/spec/ foaf: Agents and social networks
Alignment/Org Org https://www.w3.org/TR/vocab-org/ org: Organizations, posts, roles
Alignment/PROV PROV-O https://www.w3.org/TR/prov-o/ prov: Origin or information
Alignment/SSN SSN
Sensor data and sensor systems
Alignment/ICDD ICDD https://standards.iso.org/
ct: Information Container for Linked Document Delivery (ISO 21597-1)
Alignment/REC RealEstateCore https://w3id.org/rec/core/ core: Control over buildings and development of services to them for Smart City interaction
Alignment/FIBO FIBO https://spec.edmcouncil.org/fibo/ontology/
Legal entities and corporate bodies
Alignment/Saref Saref Core
Sensor data and sensor systems, in buildings

Main characteristics

Overview of the classes

The following diagram illustrates the scope of Digital Construction Ontologies by showing the most important entity classes and their subclass relations. The various property classes are not included in the figure. The diagram is drawn in the Chowlk notation.

Contributing projects

BIM4EEB - BIM-based toolkit for efficient renovation of residential buildings

(European Union's H2020 research and innovation programme, grant N. 820660)

Diction - Development of shared situational awareness in construction projects

(Business Finland, Collaborative research project 2018-2020)

Contributing organizations
TU DresdenDE
Politecnico MilanoIT
University College CorkIE
Aalto UniversityFI
Seppo Törmä (VisuaLynk) Yuan Zheng (Aalto University)


http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/         License

Last modified: Fri Jul 1 00:04:56 EEST 2022