The Connect & Construct framework has been developed in five stages:
- Market Analysis of the construction industry
- Development of the framework
- Testing the framework
- Development of the governance model
- Dissemination of the Connect & Construct results
The market analysis shows that construction companies, in particular SMEs, use ICT only to a limited extent. In order to break down the barriers to ICT usage, C&C takes a threefold approach:
- It develops principles and rules for construction companies to exchange information effectively in a digital way. The C&C principles and rules define structural conditions for effective digital information exchange, regardless of the ICT systems used. The rules elaborate on the principles and describe what should be defined and agreed upon before starting to exchange information digitally.
Both the principles and rules are based on and further elaborated on in existing (open) standards and protocols. In other words, the principles and rules summarise and simplify available open standards and help construction companies to apply them in their daily practice.
- It shows that easily accessible tooling can be developed using ICT solutions available in the market, providing the necessary functionalities to exchange construction information digitally, without ruling out the use of any operating/ICT systems and without requiring heavy investments or heavy knowledge of software development. The output is a reference implementation of an online collaboration/storage platform (i.e. the C&C Platform) that is built on open technical standards and applies the Principles & Rules as defined in this C&C-project.
- The framework increases construction companies', and in particular SMEs', awareness of i) the benefits of digital information exchange, ii) how to adapt their business processes to digital collaboration, and iii) how to use ICT and related standards and protocols to their advantage.
C&C aims to increase the awareness, by providing direction in the maze of ICT systems, standards, communication protocols, initiatives, and everything else construction companies need to know to use ICT effectively. For this purpose, the C&C information portal was developed: a single place/ source where information is provided in a clear, accessible and structured way and where organisations can, using a self assessment tool, refer to for targeted advice on what steps they could take next regarding the use of ICT.
The different elements of the C&C framework are depicted in yellow in Figure 1. It is depicted as a layer that fills the gap identified between the needs of construction industry actors, especially SMEs, (as analysed in the C&C Market analysis) on the one hand and the already available standards and tools on the other.
Figure 1. Positioning of the C&C framework and platform