Ontology of Building Service Performance
Saturday, April 12, 2008 at 04:31PM
Toby Considine in Enterprise Interaction, Ontology

The first assigned duty of man in each of the great creation myths is the Naming of Things. The formal name for this task is semantics. Procedural programmers usually stop there. To interact with multiple procedures, to move into services, one must decide how to group things. Often a single semantic object will belong in several groups. These groups are in turn, members of still others. In everyday life, we call these groups meaning; when we discuss these groups formally, we call them Ontologies.

Ontolog is an open, international, virtual community of practice on ontology, ontological engineering and semantic technology. I have been meaning to write on these concepts for a while, but will not do so today. Instead I am sharing with you excerpts from the correspondence leading to the founding of a new Ontolog project this last week. I hope to post soon on the importance of this project.


Toby Considine

I have multiple potential participants in a project on defining the surfaces between control systems and the outside world. The goal is to define informational interoperability different domains with quite different needs. Traditional integrations have been process oriented and therefore difficult and requiring deep domain knowledge.

The surfaces that come to mind quickly are:

Each of these implies one or several IDMs, to fit into one or several ontological frameworks…

Bob Smith:

Basically, the idea is to use a SOA to connect connecting service providers with service consumers (initially two domains: Health Informatics and Emergency Response Systems). A key standard in both of these two pilot test domains is the EDXL family of standards.

Deborah MacPherson

Do you know of similar problems, or better know of any solutions, getting the physical space and semantic space to stay connected. NBIMS is lucky because our artifacts, buildings, actually can only have one at time in the same place or time.

Deborah MacPherson

Sounds interesting. Personally, would also like to consider keeping track of material performance over long periods of time. For example owners being able to monitor warranty time periods for all their facilities, manufacturers being able to evaluate life expectancy of their products in various applications and climates. The building informatics, hopefully working towards reduce, reuse, recycle.

Toby Considine

I have just been on the phone with Bob and Deborah, in series. I was trying to align the Deborah's Building Purpose Classification with my own interest in defining a Building Service Provisioning Framework. After some arm-wrestling, Deborah and I have come up with:

BuildingServicePerformance - an Ontolog project to formalize how we describe the Purpose(s) of a Facility and the associated services expected from the building systems. We hope to include the beginning of a compliance framework as well, that is, how to understand if the service is being provided in accord with required performance metrics.

We clearly do not intend to write the metrics, but we believe the framework will allow others to formalize the metrics require for different scenarios pretty quickly.

A measure of success would be that the framework can be used to generate IDMs to at last create information bridges between building systems and buildingSmart, although that is not the only use we see.

Bob wants us to begin fleshing out the wiki to define this part of the project soon.

Deborah MacPherson

Yes - services expected from the building systems which can be "building things" like HVAC systems, a restaurant, brick and mortar cavity walls and larger performance requirements that are bigger than the building like " a tornado is coming and there are x number of people here perhaps some back and forth about how sturdy various structures can be expected to be.

Two sides of a coin where one side is the program and spatial proportions of the building "Hotel, 250 rooms, 8 stories, OCCS class etc" - which is nicely aligned to BIMstorm and OPS. To BIMStorm is to develop a project and get these spaces to work, Owners, Designers, City Planners can all play with and create the same spaces. Analysis can be performed on the results for any number of reasons - cost, geospatial and so on.

The other side is physical performance - for example a necessary performance requirement of the hotel class is to achieve an acoustical goal between rooms, to get there x, y, z gypsum board and a certain type of insulation are used. All the materials have classes which can be mapped into other classes and, what I'm trying to do, eventually map into the spatial programming world of BIMstorm and similar.

There is now a bridge between idea requirements and physical requirements. That same bridge may be able to be extended and reused for other purposes that need the physical world and semantic world to stay connected under certain conditions.

Rex Brooks

BSP is fine with me, but it misses the one part of Toby's original post that resonated especially well with me, which was the notion of helping standardize practices in the interface between building control systems and the outer environment. In the exchanges since, another particularly relevant concept surfaced, improving/maintaining the alignment/awareness/contact between semantic space and physical space. However, I think both of these fit within the rubric of BSP, but we might want to elaborate a bit on these and other aspects/factors that we want to capture and work with.

That said, I also think that we have more than enough to get us started.


The team will need to develop its charter at its upcoming initial organizing meeting.

It should be an interesting project. Come on by if you want to participate.

ONTOLOG - collaborative work environment

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