Department of Civil Engineering

DiCtion: Digitalising construction workflows

Construction projects suffer from low productivity and risks pertaining to schedules, quality, and costs. Over recent decades, construction productivity has improved by a mere one percent. DiCtion is a research and development project led by the Aalto University that seeks to boost productivity through the digitalisation of construction workflows.
DiCtion: Digitalising Construction Workflows

One of the reasons for inefficiencies in construction is that situation awareness is lacking. Construction managers and workers typically have insufficient information about the current and planned states of work on the construction site.

A poor flow of information seriously hinders construction workers. They waste the bulk of their time on the jobsite in activities that do not add value. Instead of focusing on their core tasks, they are searching for and moving materials and tools, or trying to find information.

Aalto University’s Department of Civil Engineering leads the project consortium and is the research partner together with VTT. The business partners are Bonava, Consolis Parma, Fira, Ruukki, Sweco, and Trimble.

DiCtion studies, develops, and field-tests data models, processes, and technologies that improve construction site and supply chain productivity. The project aims at a future in which every stakeholder in a construction project has access to real-time information about the past, present, and future events of a project–the shared situation picture.

Aalto’s 12-person research team is headed by Olli Seppänen, Professor of Practice. The project is funded by Business Finland. The two-and-a-half year project will be completed in June 2020.


Research & Art Published:

Real-time Data Helps Improve Construction Productivity

The productivity of construction work depends on many factors. Jianyu Zhao, a doctoral candidate at Aalto University, has used indoor positioning to measure worker presence and task progress. His study will help construction companies identify productivity bottlenecks and find way to improve productivity. We sat down with him to discuss his research and its implications.
Research & Art Published:

Virtual Design and Construction from a Client Perspective

We’ve seen how the strategies and ambitions of clients can be key drivers of digitalization of the construction industry. Sampo Oksama talks about Bonava’s efforts in the field and its collaboration in the DiCtion R&D project.
Research & Art Published:

DiCtion Strives for a Digital Quality Footprint That Supports Learning in Construction

Finnish AEC firms started adopting systematic quality management in the mid-1990s. Still missing, though, is an overarching view of quality issues in a construction project. DiCtion is exploring the use of shared digital quality data for that purpose.
construction site
Research & Art Published:

DiCtion Uses Visual Data to Automate Construction Site Processes

Sensors and cameras on a digitalised construction site provide a huge amount of useful data. As a result, it’s becoming almost impossible to interpret that data manually. Aalto University is now looking for ways to automate the processing and use of construction data in the DiCtion research project.

Why is DiCtion essential and timely?

Construction is one of the least digitalised industries. Advances in digitalisation have predominantly taken place in the design phase. Building information modelling, for example, is gradually becoming mainstream. However, digitalisation has not increased the overall productivity of construction. This is mainly due to poor digital support for the work on construction sites.

What is DiCtion?

DiCtion is a research and development project that aims at a future in which every stakeholder in a construction project has access to real-time information about the past, present, and future events of a project. The shared situation picture is made possible by digitalising construction workflows and using common data models and ontologies.

DiCtion applies technologies from three domains: building information management (BIM), construction management (CM), and supply chain management (SCM). Until now, these technologies have been separated, with little data-level interaction between them. DiCtion creates connections between these application areas, which is a game-changer in construction information management.

Diction Picture

Who are in the Consortium?


  • Aalto University’s School of Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering
  • VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
  • VisuaLynk Oy

Housing developer

  • Bonava


  • Fira

Engineering design

  • Sweco


  • Consolis Group / Parma Ltd

  • Ruukki Construction

Software development

  • Trimble Solutions Ltd

Who will benefit and how?

Better productivity saves time and money for all stakeholders involved in the USD 10 trillion construction industry. Building owners and users get better end products, delivered within budget and on schedule.

DiCtion helps construction software and technology developers deliver improved products, which in turn reduce development costs as they can use the data models and process definitions created and tested in real life in DiCtion. The cross-pollination between BIM, CM, and SCM systems opens opportunities for new products and services.

The researchers get invaluable data and information from real-life case studies. DiCtion sets in motion new research and development that is necessary for the future success of construction.

What will DiCtion deliver?

The project delivers data models, guidelines and software applications that advance the digital transformation of the industry. Key deliverables include:

  • an ontology, a common model for information sharing
  • shared information architecture and requirements for ontologies
  • a common generic workflow model
  • a model for collaborative planning
  • definitions related to the situation picture
  • a shared collaboration plan.

In addition, contractors and software companies develop and test software that makes use of DiCtion data models and best practices.

What’s the timeline?

DiCtion started in January 2018 and will be completed in June 2020.

Who funds DiCtion?

Business Finland funds the research project.

RECAP final Reports

Browse the final reports of studies conducted under the RECAP project. Content mainly available in Finnish only.

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