April 2014

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Classification or what ‘things’ are called.
Ken Sinclair, Publisher

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One of the key components of keeping the cloud open is controlling what things are called and understanding the meaning of the data they produce.

The construction industry is also struggling with what things are called. Yikes! Many parts of the industry are wrestling with the same issues.

I have learned lots from my Haystack friends about the importance of a name and its' tagging. This Brian Frank interview talks about how tagging after classification will get us to the next level.

An Update on Project Haystack  Haystack tagging makes it possible for software applications to easily consume and understand data. An example is the ability to automatically assemble graphics of equipment systems with almost no human involvement.

This BSRIA post caught my eye.  The BIM folks say;

BIM - it's all about the classification March 2014

As BIM experience increases, a number of key issues are becoming apparent.  One such example is classification – what ‘things’ are called.  If you have a vast quantity of data or information, that can be a very powerful resource.  However, all that potential may be difficult to realise if you can’t find the particular piece of information efficiently when you need it. Classification can be defined as:

‘the act or process of dividing things into groups according to their type’

Classification has been used in the construction world for many years, often without the users knowing it.  For example, many engineers would recognise that a section called ‘T10’ in their specification dealt with ‘Gas/oil fired boilers’.  This came from a classification system called Common Arrangement of Work Sections (CAWS) which covered architectural and MEP elements for construction projects.

Subsequently, Uniclass was derived from this system and gave the opportunity to classify ‘things’ in different ways, not simply as a system or an object.  Uniclass was based on the general structure described in ISO 12006, which promoted the use of classification classes, each of which relates to a classification need.  As well as products (or objects), some of the other classes suggested by ISO 12006 are:

Entity e.g. a building, a bridge, a tunnel

Complex (a group of entities) e.g. airports, hospitals, universities, power station

Space e.g. office, canteen, parking area, operating theatre

Product e.g. boiler, door, drain pipe

Facilities this combines the space with an activity which can be carried out there, e.g. operating theatre

Indeed, other classes can be added to a classification system such as ‘system’, which works very well in an MEP environment.  Similarly, an ‘activities’ class would be very helpful to define a range of activities which might be able to be done within a particular space, as an alternative to using the ‘facilities’ class.

This caused me to ask Would Haystack work with BIM?

The replies were great and I wish to share my email responses with you because this is simple, but very important stuff - what we call things.

From: Brian Frank [mailto:brian@skyfoundry.com]
Sent: March-26-14 8:07 AM
To: John Petze
Cc: Ken Sinclair

Subject: Re: Would Haystack work with BIM?

Quick differences:
- BIM focuses on the architectural side and physical layout
- Haystack focuses on control system and actual operational data

Hopefully the two will come to together over time

On Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 7:56 AM, John Petze <john@skyfoundry.com> wrote:

Control Solutions, Inc Hi Ken,

Yes BIM and Haystack address the need to classify data. The difference is the focus of the data they look to work with. You may remember that one of the keynote speakers at Haystack Connect was from Autodesk. He spoke to the use of BIM and related tools for the design and construction process. He accepted our invitation to speak because they too see that the data from the construction phase (now addressed by BIM) and the operational phase need to be bridged. This is the focus of Haystack.

The two models are complimentary and over time the communities that are using them will see opportunities and need to bring them together in projects. They don't compete. BIM can include the classification data related to the physical characteristics of a piece of equipment (brand, capacity, dimensions, location in the building, etc) but has never been extended to address the data produced by the equipment. Thats where Haystack comes in.


Conclusion: If we are to keep the cloud open and as useful as possible you can not allow unstructured naming of anything, you must take ownership of your classification or what ‘things’ are called. The Haystack Project is a great start on an open source solution.



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