About the research
Currently, individuals including designers, contractors, and owners learn about the project requirements by studying a combination of paper and electronic copies of the construction documents including the drawings, specifications (standard and supplemental), road and bridge standard drawings, design criteria, contracts, addenda, and change orders. This can be a tedious process since one needs to go back and forth between the various documents (paper or electronic) to obtain information about the entire project. Object-oriented computer-aided design (OO-CAD) is an innovative technology that can bring a change to this process by graphical portrayal of information. OO-CAD allows users to point and click on portions of an object-oriented drawing that are then linked to relevant databases of information (e.g., specifications, procurement status, and shop drawings).
The vision of this study is to turn paper-based design standards and construction specifications into an object-oriented design and specification (OODAS) system or a visual electronic reference library (ERL). Individuals can use the system through a handheld wireless book-size laptop that includes all of the necessary software for operating in a 3D environment. All parties involved in transportation projects can access all of the standards and requirements simultaneously using a 3D graphical interface. By using this system, users will have all of the design elements and all of the specifications readily available without concerns of omissions.
A prototype object-oriented model was created and demonstrated to potential users representing counties, cities, and the state. Findings suggest that a system like this could improve productivity to find information by as much as 75% and provide a greater sense of confidence that all relevant information had been identified. It was also apparent that this system would be used by more people in construction than in design. There was also concern related to the cost to develop and maintain the complete system. The future direction should focus on a project-based system that can help the contractors and DOT inspectors find information (e.g., road standards, specifications, instructional memorandums) more rapidly as it pertains to a specific project.