An ambient intelligent environment for accessing building information in facility management operations; A healthcare facility scenario
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The Architecture, Engineering, Construction, and Operations (AECO) industry is constantly searching for new methods for increasing efficiency and productivity. Facility managers, as a part of the owner/operator role, work in complex and dynamic environments where critical decisions are constantly made. This decision-making process and its consequent performance can be improved by enhancing Situation Awareness (SA) of the facility managers through new digital technologies. SA, as a user-centered approach for understanding facility managers’ information requirement, together with Mobile Augmented Reality (MAR) was used for developing an Ambient Intelligent (AmI) environment for accessing building information in facilities. Augmented Reality has been considered as a viable option to reduce inefficiencies of data overload by providing facility managers with an SA-based tool for visualizing their “real-world” environment with added interactive data. Moreover, Building Information Modeling (BIM) was used as the data repository of the required building information. A pilot study was done to study the integration between SA, MAR, and BIM. InfoSPOT (Information Surveyed Point for Observation and Tracking) was developed as a low-cost solution that leverage current AR technology, showing that it is possible to take an idealized BIM model and integrate its data and 3D information in an MAR environment. A within-subjects user participation experiment and analysis was also conducted to evaluate the usability of the InfoSPOT in facility management related practices. The outcome of statistical analysis (a one-way repeated measure ANOVA) revealed that on average the mobile AR-based environment was relatively seamless and efficient for all participants in the study. Building on the InfoSPOT pilot study, an in-depth research was conducted in the area of healthcare facility management, integrating SA, MAR, and BIM to develop an AmI environment where facility mangers’ information requirement would be superimposed on their real-word view of the facility they maintain and would be interactively accessible through current mobile handheld technology. This AmI environment was compared to the traditional approach of conducting preventive and corrective maintenance using paper-based forms. The purpose of this part of the research was to investigate the hypothesis of “bringing 3D BIM models of building components in an AR environment and making it accessible through handheld mobile devices would help the facility managers to locate those components easier and faster compared to facility managers’ paper-based approach”. The result of this study shows that this innovative application of AR and integrating it with BIM to enhance the SA has the potential to improve construction practices, and in this case, facility management.