Digitization for Integration: Fragmented realities in the utility sector

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    The construction industry and its reform agendas commonly assume that digitization of a construction asset's life cycle also integrates its stakeholders. Behind this lies the premise that stakeholders reduce ambiguity and create consistency by using software that operates on the basis of shared and uniform knowledge. To explore this premise, this study identified the knowledge bases - data standards and modelling protocols for engineering software - that distinctive underground infrastructure owner’s use. To this end, we analysed a utility engineering consultancy that registers and processes asset data of twelve major utility owners. We observed their utility information managers and studied their asset management guidelines. We used two utility taxonomies from literature to compare identified digital modelling standards. Subsequently, we used literature about modelling standards in digital practices to argue how selected examples of divergent digital models hamper uniformity. We conclude that digital reality models may also differ and thus confuse, fragment, and ultimately delimit collaborative digital practices. This insight stresses the relevance of defining shared domain understanding to facilitate the uptake of software for collaborative engineering practices. It stimulates construction improvement agents to consider this important notion of shared digital realities in their debates about achieving integration by ‘going digital'.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    Event34th Annual Association of Researchers in Construction Management Conference, ARCOM 2018 - Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom
    Duration: 3 Sept 20185 Sept 2018


    Conference34th Annual Association of Researchers in Construction Management Conference, ARCOM 2018
    Abbreviated titleARCOM 2018
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    • digitization
    • fragmentation
    • integration
    • standardization
    • utility sector


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