This thesis presents a study of the fragmented nature of activities involved in the
specification and procurement of construction products. Existing Internet-based
approaches have perpetuated fragmentation in this domain and this has resulted in a
problem known as ‘digital anarchy.’ The thesis describes the design and development of
an application based on the metaphor of software agents to address this problem.
The thesis has validated the view that failures in the existing approaches have resulted in
the ‘digital anarchy’ problem. Such approaches have failed to eradicate paper-based
communication patterns and its related sequential work methods. The thesis has
established the proof of concept of using agents for the management of distributed
information in the selected domain. The work has also synthesised agent technology,
XML and Web Services into a cohesive architecture, demonstrating that the ultimate
solution to the ‘digital anarchy’ problem will emerge from a synergy of the various
streams of research in Internet-related technologies. The work has established that there
is significant scope for systematic improvement in the specification and procurement of
construction products listed on the Internet based on the agent paradigm.
A dissertation thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of
the degree Doctor of Engineering (EngD), at Loughborough University.