FAQ

General questions

INTERLINK aims to launch a new pan-European initiative to provide NRAs and their supply chain with future-proof information management standards for the delivery and operation of infrastructure assets. The proposed solution will use the cutting-edge capabilities of Linked Data for a proposed European Road Object-Type Library. This approach will result in a system that is: 100% software vendor-neutral and open; applicable to the whole life-cycle and supply-chain of infrastructure assets; and focused on data exchange and sharing. Powerful Semantic Web technology will be applied to express infrastructure asset object-based information and knowledge on a European level. The system will be designed to integrate and reuse any existing and forthcoming BIM standards in flexible ways, thereby minimising obsolescence of earlier investments by NRAs.

The research programme started at august 31th, 2016 and will last at least two years. The outcome will be public after approval by CEDR not before the end of 2018.

Information about the progress of this research programme can be found on here

An object type library OTL is an open available library with standardised object-types names (e.g. road, viaduct) and properties or specifications.

An object-type library in general is an abstract, simplified view on a part of reality to be represented for some purpose.

The purpose is to support a common understanding between humans and computers of information required for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of road infrastructure assets.

An object is described with its object-type data, geometry data and metadata, Metadata are data (or information) about the data of objects. Metadata are needed because each object type has its own properties. How the object types are grouped is called an ontology

 

A cable-stayed bridge is an example of an object-type. An instance of this object-type would be a data object carrying relevant data about a particular bridge, for example the Millau Viaduct in France. The relevant object-type data for such a bridge would depend on who is looking for the information. For a designer, it could be the number of pylons, the number of spans, the spans lengths and the deck material. A contractor may find a web link to a construction specification. For an asset manager, the relevant data could be the expected residual life of the structure and the time to the next inspection of the bearings. For the bridge inspector, it could be the access route for inspecting the pylons.

 

Objects can carry or reference graphical data and non-graphical data. They can also carry metadata, i.e. data about the data. An example of metadata for the Millau Viaduct object could be when and by whom the object data was last revised. The object-type library defines the data structure and the variables to be populated at different stages of an asset's life, often in the context of associated open data standards.

Figure 2 shows the three perspectives on the use on an OTL. Together with other relevant OTLs (international, country-specific, company-specific or even project-specific ones) the European Road OTL will support the three perspectives:

  • Agreement on civil infrastructure assets definition and specification by experts in the road domain;
  • Giving structure to asset data for exchange and sharing between stakeholders and their software applications, along the asset’s life-cycle and supply-chain; and
  • Provision of a kind of ‘hub’ or ‘entrance’ to all relevant asset data and documents, (native, according to any existing open existing standard; or preferably as rich, linked ‘object’ data that can be directly understood and processed by software)

A common European road object-type library (the European Road OTL) is an OTL that contains that part of the object specifications of road assets upon which the NRAs in Europe agree.

When agreed upon between the parties in a specific domain, the European Road OTL can be considered a ‘standard’ for that domain. When this standard is shared publicly, it can be considered an ‘open standard’.

The OTL can be linked to other data dictionaries with the definitions of object-types.

The purpose of an OTL is to enhance collaboration of road-asset management stakeholders by improving the handover of asset information from the capital delivery phase of projects through to the operation and asset management throughout its life cycle. Focusing on the entire lifecycle of assets and using recognised standards, enables all parties, who are involved in the asset management of roads, to adopt these standards and practices, thus helping to optimise efficiencies and in the long run, reduce contingency cost.

The OTL describes object types with a standard-language, -syntax and –semantics.  By using an OTL with these standardised object-type names and standardised object-type specifications to describe objects/assets, the stakeholders use the same language, which is required for a reliable exchange of information.

An OTL is the support for a common understanding between humans and computers of information required for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of road infrastructure assets. Figure 3 shows an example of how an OTL can be used in the communication between a contractor, responsible for the design and construction of an asset, and an NRA, responsible for management of the asset. The example is from Rijkswaterstaat, the Dutch NRA. It shows that the data exchanged or shared within each organisation, and the data exchanged between organisations, are structured using the OTL.

Yes, it should be a European OTL because:

  • It is efficient to develop one standardized OTL together with the NRA’s, which can be used by all CEDR members in Europe, using the already available OTL-know how of CEDR members.
  • The OTL should be used by the stakeholders, like contractors and engineering companies, who operate in different countries in Europe.
  • The ICT-tools to be able to use an OTL should be developed by ICT suppliers. These ICT suppliers are international operating companies, needing a large market for their products.
  • The OTL should be a standardised OTL by standardisation bodies for BIM Building Information Management. These standardisation bodies are ISO and CEN, who develop worldwide and European wide recognized codes.

The European road OTL is also aimed to be used within an organisation or within a country.

 

The common principles will focus on the commonalities of the different national approaches and will allow for national differentiation when deemed necessary. Principles will address the technical specification, the standardisation body and the acceptance in practice. The acceptance will be facilitated by a proposed Linked Data and Semantic Web environment that supports development, publishing and deployment of the OTL, enabling a feedback-driven (bottom-up) approach. Figure 3 shows how the European Road OTL will sit between and connects international and national standards.

CEDR (Conference of European Directors of Roads) started this research project „Asset Information using BIM“ to enhance the use of BIM (Building Information Modelling) for information management during the delivery and operation of civil infrastructure as a new pan-European initiative to provide ist CEDR members, the National Road Authorities of 26 European countries, and their supply chain (Contractors, ICT supliers, Engineering companies) with future-proof information management standards for the delivery and operation of infrastructure assets.

In September 2016 INTERLINK commenced a two-year CEDR (Conference of European Directors of Roads) research project into the use of BIM (Building Information Modelling) for information management during the delivery and operation of civil infrastructure. The consortium commissioned for the project, entitled INTERLINK, comprises a research institute (TNO from the Netherlands), engineering and asset management consultants (ROD from Ireland and Royal HaskoningDHV from the Netherlands), ICT consultants and software companies (AEC3 from Germany, Vianova Systems from Norway, interactive instruments from Germany, and Semmtech from the Netherlands), and a national BIM implementation body (planen-bauen 4.0 from Germany).

INTERLINK aims to launch a new pan-European initiative to provide NRAs and their supply chain with future-proof information management standards for the delivery and operation of infrastructure assets.

The proposed solution will use the cutting-edge capabilities of Linked Data for a proposed European Road Object-Type Library. This approach will result in a system that is: 100% software vendor-neutral and open; applicable to the whole life-cycle and supply-chain of infrastructure assets; and focused on data exchange and sharing. Powerful Semantic Web technology will be applied to express infrastructure asset object-based information and knowledge on a European level. The system will be designed to integrate and reuse any existing and forthcoming BIM standards in flexible ways, thereby minimising obsolescence of earlier investments by NRAs.

This project has the following four sub-themes:

  1. Exploration of procuring asset information for better projects and Asset Management Systems
  2. Exploration of BIM data structures
  3. Design for common principles for a European object-type library
  4. Design and test a basic European object-type library and open BIM standards

The first phase of the project will involve extensive engagement with NRA asset managers and project managers, contractors, academics, consultants and software developers (sub-themes A and B). This will lead to a clear understanding of the current and future needs for how asset information is produced, formatted, accessed and processed for various life-cycle stages, contract-types and asset-types in European counties. After that a Proof of Concept will be developed and tests will be executed, linked to existing road information systems in four countries (sub-themes C and D). The European Road OTL will be freely available for other road information systems and will be introduced in national and international standardisation initiatives.

INTERLINK aims to launch a new pan-European initiative to provide NRAs and their supply chain with future-proof information management standards for the delivery and operation of infrastructure assets in a European road OTL.

The proposed solution will use the cutting-edge capabilities of Linked Data for a proposed European Road Object-Type Library. This approach will result in a system that is: 100% software vendor-neutral and open; applicable to the whole life-cycle and supply-chain of infrastructure assets; and focused on data exchange and sharing.

Powerful Semantic Web technology will be applied to express infrastructure asset object-based information and knowledge on a European level. The system will be designed to integrate and reuse any existing and forthcoming BIM standards in flexible ways, thereby minimising obsolescence of earlier investments by NRAs.

The outcome will be the reports about the Business and Data needs, the Principles of the road OTL, the Proof of Concepts and the test results of these principles.

A road-map will be described how the European road OTL can be used starting with document-based available exchanged asset information developing to object-based shared asset information.

The research programme started on August 31st, 2016 and will last at least two years. The outcome will be made public after approval by CEDR. It is envisaged that this would not take place before the end of 2018. Reports will be published on the website www.roadotl.eu.

Information about the progress of this research programme can be found on here.

The first reports with the business needs and data needs investigation results are already available.

Via our INTERLINK website www.roadotl.eu you can ask questions or send information related to this development.

On the website is the OTL dissemination calendar, with events on which OTL-information and the OTL development results and progress are presented.

Participation during the research is possible via our INTERLINK website and via participation in events and congresses on which the OTL results are presented.

The steps to the road-OTL and collaboration with your suppliers using a road OTL can be:

  1. Use a basic set of object types with its specifications of the road OTL, like the European road OTL, to be able to describe your assets with. That basic set of object types can be a list to start with, or a link to an existing library within your organisation, your country, or another country example.
  2. Map your assets to standardized open available standard object types based on existing guidelines or codes, like the European road OTL. Describe your assets as objects with the object-types and its specifications from this basic OTL.
  3. This mapping of assets to standardized object types can be done document based, with available documents on which assets are specified, or if possible object based, with available asset information in a database, which you can link to the OTL.
  4. Register your assets with standardized object type data in your database.
  5. Use these standardized asset information to share or exchange with your suppliers, if possible with a standardized exchange format or with Linked Data.
  6. Manage your asset information and manage your object type data together with your suppliers and together with the organisations who are involved in the development and standardisation of the road OTL.

Agenda:

INTERLINK paper for TRA2018 conference

Sept. 29, 2017 - Nov. 29, 2017

Submission of INTERLINK paper for TRA2018 conference

CEDR INTERLINK Meeting with Benno Koehorst

Oct. 4, 2017

Meeting with Benno Koehorst on D4 Principles for a European Road OTL.

BIM Loket Kennisdag (= national BIM conference, 200 attendees)

Oct. 6, 2017

Prestentation on Linked Data for Construction, at BIM Loket Kennisdag (= national BIM conference, 200 attendees), in Dutch.

See Publications.