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Data Base Management System

There are three fundamental components f Decision Support Systems are essentially made up of three basic elements: Data Base Management System (DBMS): The DBMS is the databank for the DSS. The DBMS is a storehouse for the huge volumes of data that the DSS has to deal with in providing solution for the type of problem for which it has been designed. Unlike in other databases which provide physical data structure, the DMBS works on logical data structures which the users can interact with. In a good DBMS, the physical database structure and the way the data is actually process remains hidden from the user.

The user only knows the different types of data that are available and how best to access this data to aid in decision making. Model-Based Management System (MBMS): The MBMS plays a similar role to that of the DBMS. The main task of an MBMS is to provide a mechanism whereby the applications that use a particular DSS are independent of the particular models that are used in the DSS. By doing so, the MBMS actually converts data available in the DBMS into information that helps in decision making. Users of a DSS usually have to

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handle unstructured problems. The MBMS is therefore required to help the users with building models.

Dialog Generation and Management system (DGMS): People use a DSS to comprehend a system in its entirety. The primary task of the DSS is therefore to provide insight. The interfaces that a DSS uses needs to be highly user friendly as many people who use them specialize in planning and managerial decision making and may not be very well acquainted or oriented towards computing systems. The interfaces not only need to assist in building the models bit also need to provide adequate interactions with the models so that the users are able to gain insight and extract recommendations from the DSS.

The DGMS is therefore primarily tasked with providing easy access and meaningful access to the DSS. DSS for Selection of Construction Materials, its relevance This paper attempts to describe a Decision Support System to assist in making decisions to select construction materials based on a sustainability criterion. For every given construction job, there is a huge variety of construction materials to choose from. Economic factors and technology criteria have been traditionally the primary basis of selection of construction materials.

Construction materials were selected against the requirements a desired life span, and a program of requirements and codes based on the characteristics of the material concerned such strength, viscosity, elasticity, bending moment, etc. Rapid depletion of natural resources required for construction materials has however forced a change in perspectives. The focus has now shifted to ecological, health and ethical considerations. Making a selection decision based only on human judgment and past experience, taking all added aspects into consideration, becomes almost an impossible task.

According to (Pearce, et. al. , 2001) it was essential that some new mechanism of assessing the available construction materials for the highest utility of the specific project was required. The mechanism would have to evaluate the alternatives on the basis of their technical properties and cost parameters but also on the basis of the status of their availability in the ecosystem in the long-term context and from the perspective of natural resources. Such a holistic method could be implemented only through a Decision Support System.

The DSS will have to provide all necessary information to enable the decision maker to take the most optimal decision keeping not only the technical and economical parameters under consideration, but also balancing the right degree of emphasis on the environment and sustainability aspect. To achieve such an objective in the design of a Decision Support System the following development steps will have to be undertaken: Sustainability will have to be defined for the selection of construction material.

Based on the definition of sustainability developed, a methodology has to be developed for selection and comparison of the alternative construction materials that are available. The methodology for selection will have to be automated by development of a Develop a conceptual framework for a Sustainability Decision Support System (SDSS). Defining Sustainability The United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainable development as development keeping the concerns of the future in sight.

Sustainable development is that development that meets the requirements of the present generation without in any way endangering or compromising the scope for development of future generations. (WCED, 1987). Sustainability is therefore the concept of meeting present requirements in such a manner that the resources that go to fulfill the present requirement can also be utilized to meet similar requirements in the long run. In other words, it is handling the present with an eye on the future.

This concept of sustainability works on the inherent principle that human development is a going process that has to sustained at a pace at which the finite resources available in the world can easily cope with. A fine but much simplified example could be that of utilization of timber in the making of any civil construction. The decision maker will not only have to select the timber the quality of which is suitable for the construction in terms of strength, expected durability, etc.

but will also have to ensure that the made is a type of timber that is not endangered or on the verge of being extinct, a type that is easily available in the area of the construction with no threat to its future. The next question that could face the decision maker is whether timber, considering the depletion rate of natural resources, should be used at all. And if timber is not used then what are the other available alternatives that could be used in the place of timber?

The Decision Support System will have to be able to assist the decision maker in making these crucial decisions by providing structured and easy access to all relevant information. Sustainability is therefore a system with stability at its core. Changes to the system are not unrestrained but constrained so that a stable continuance of the system is maintained in the long run. Sustainability is very important for the construction industry because constructions have a very high impact on the ecology and the environment.

The people who make decisions in the construction industry literally hold fate in their hands in the sense that considered and logical decisions based on sustainability go a long way in protecting and preserving the environment that in turn sustains human kind. Decision makers at different levels in the construction industry therefore have to make judicious selection of construction material in order fulfill the present requirements without negatively affecting the requirements of others or putting at stake the very existence of the human race on this earth.

The main goals that a DSS has to meet in selecting of construction materials based on sustainability are to improve the selection process of the construction material during the conceptual stage itself and to promote the use of innovative materials which could have more sustainable properties than the traditional materials that are currently in use.

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