GIS & BIM Integration Benefits in 2021
One unfortunate, but well-known fact within the architecture, engineering and construction industry (or AEC industry) is that a lot of critical data gets lost in-between the different stages of the build process, from conceptualization to construction and maintenance. This is the result of converting and translating data between other software solutions and formats. This problem is preventable. It’s not uncommon for planners, designers and engineers to have to manually re-create the information from scratch, especially if the stakeholder needs data about a particular construction stage.
This tendency in the industry exists mainly because of the rapid movement of a new industry standard, the movement of geographic information science (GIS) towards third dimension and 3D modeling. A similar process is happening in the design and construction industry – the well-known transition between 2D models to 3D building information modeling (BIM) processes. This is one of the primary reasons the GIS & BIM integration needs to become the norm as soon as possible.
How GIS & BIM complement one another
While BIM’s purpose is to provide information for both the design and construction of various singular structures such as roads, bridges, airports and so on – GIS is responsible for the correct planning and operation of these structures. GIS information can provide a lot of geospatial details to BIM that can impact the building’s orientation, construction materials, location, and more.
As previously mentioned, there’s also a completely different scale between the two. BIM is all about designing and constructing a single structure at a time, while GIS often operates on an entirely different level, like regional level, city level, country level, etc. The addition of geospatial information allows structures created in BIM to have better context and be more aware of their surroundings and infrastructure, among other things.
Seamless transition of data between GIS and BIM allows for the reduction or complete elimination of data redundancy. The additional geospatial context for BIM means better designs and even less money spent on the construction process. If the GIS information were able to coexist within the same cloud as the BIM information, it would be much easier for stakeholders to manage that data and repurpose it multiple times without converting it over and over again.
There’s a plethora of different ways to utilize the integration of GIS and BIM. Still, one thing is clear – bringing spatial dimension into the modern information-rich construction process would increase the overall efficiency of every project in many ways.
How the integration of GIS and BIM benefit cities and facilities
It’s not uncommon for cities today to experience various sustainability and resiliency issues when it comes to roads, bridges and other facilities. To even attempt to solve that, all of these constructions would need better designs, and this, in turn, would require the optimization of the data exchange between BIM, CAD (computer-aided design) and geospatial information from GIS.
Being able to place a digitally designed construction project in the context of its actual geographic location eliminates the majority of risk that arises when designing and building another road or bridge. There’s also the fact that the majority of time spent on large infrastructure projects is used on various assessments, like economic, social, environmental and other impact types.
These assessments are performed using the same geospatial data that GIS provides, allowing engineers and planners to see things like floodplain maps, underground utilities, and so on. By integrating this kind of information into the process, teams can significantly lessen the time needed for these assessments, benefitting all of the parties involved.
And that’s not just the construction phase – the integration between BIM and GIS is equally impactful for the structures that are already built. Having the entire model that was used to create a specific structure instead of just a set of manually-created post-construction data, allows the customer to reuse the data multiple times throughout the entire lifespan of the structure.
Smart Cities and Data Loops
Not surprising, the integration between GIS and BIM is also highly beneficial for the mutual dream of “smart cities” that humanity is striving for. Let’s take autonomous vehicles, for example, they’re using highly detailed geospatial data to be aware of their surroundings, and the higher-quality roads and other facilities allow these vehicles to collect the relevant data from the places they’re moving through.
This information can then be directed back to the city designers and planners, allowing them to create designs and plans based on the actual information about the city, thus making the entire process more seamless and efficient than before.
Main benefits of GIS & BIM integration
The topics of both GIS and BIM are quite extensive on their own, and the integration between the two makes it even more information-heavy. To make it easier to digest, here are some of the key, major benefits of the GIS & BIM integration:
- Saving money and reducing costs
- Seamlessly transferring data between different stages of both design and construction processes
- Easing the data reuse for all the parties involved
- Eliminating redundant and duplicate data
- Helping create better and more efficient designs
- Removing data conversion from the equation
- Adding highly detailed geospatial context to BIM as a process
- Making it easier to manage data thanks to the cloud storage, and more.
Of course, these are not the only benefits that exist, but it is clear why the integration of GIS and BIM is so vital to the industry in general, both in the commercial sense and in an evolutional one. At the core of this whole process is the importance of innovation and the need to grow and evolve. The integration between BIM and GIS might be the next big step for the entire world’s AEC industry as a whole.