BIM and GIS Integration for Infrastructure Planning and Design
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BIM and GIS Integration for Infrastructure Planning and Design

It has never been easy for Infrastructure planners and design engineers to aggregate and use existing data and geo-information (GIS) to correctly plan, design, construct and even operate and maintain assets such as rail networks, airports, bridges and roads. GIS provides the context in which the new infrastructure is positioned with respect to the existing utilities, buildings and other infrastructure. While GIS helps us understand how to put the infrastructure in that context, BIM information is the vital element that allows for the designing and building process of that infrastructure to take place.

In the AEC industry, the process that many use solely relies on consistent data and software systems with inherent problems of data validity, incompatibility and inability to share the data seamlessly between different platforms. Such problems have been causing more issues than the industry can solve. Each time data is moved between the stages of a certain project a good percentage, if not the entire sets of data, are lost.

The problem appears the moment a project stakeholder requires data from an earlier stage of the process. Engineers, designers, and planners must retrieve that data, sometimes manually, which causes even more problems. The GIS industry stepped forward by making a move towards 3D modelling to solve this issue.

The process of merging BIM and GIS data is referred to as BIM and GIS Integration. Once merged, BIM and GIS data provides a geospatial element that can be used in infrastructure design, which allows for more efficient workflows and consistent data. This has greatly helped in reducing the data loss when moving from the planning stage down to design through to construction and even operation.

Figure 1 – Integrated relationship between BIM and GIS

In simple terms, BIM and GIS integration is the process of blending the BIM model into layers of the geospatial context. This will enable designers to make of GIS, sometimes including surveyed data to get the most accurate information about proposed construction project areas. For example, GIS can provide the designers with the information on flooding history of a location proposed for construction, and if it reveals that the area is prone to flooding, appropriate design provision will be made and correct construction methods can be taken to avert future flooding once the project is open for public use.

Figure 2 – Integrated GIS and BIM Model

BIM and GIS Integration is important because GIS information can be applied in varying project sizes – from small, localised project areas to cities, provinces/states and even country areas while BIM data is closely tied to designing and constructing infrastructure components such as roads, bridges, rails, drainages structure of different shapes and sizes. The integration therefore allows both the GIS and the Engineering team to work together to deliver more resilient and sustainable infrastructure. Put data at the centre, remove silos and connect workflows with integrated GIS and BIM Models.

Figure 3 – Putting Data at the center and connecting workflows

Including GIS makes the broadens the picture by adding a smarter and larger environment context, meaning that the object will become a part of the roads, utilities and land in that environment.

Integrating GIS and BIM data allows design and construction companies to collect accurate and valuable data that will lead to much more effective and efficient design and project management.

Some of the Benefits of GIS and BIM integration:

  • Combine BIM information with up-to-date GIS, hence eliminating data redundancy.
  • Access GIS during design without data duplication.
  • Access BIM details from within GIS.
  • Combine BIM models in one spatially correct environment.
  • Move data seamlessly between the stages of the design and construction process.
  • Store all data in the cloud to improve data management in any environment.
  • Eliminate the need to convert data for use in other contexts.

In conclusion, the need for GIS/BIM integration has risen from the initiative to take the most innovative infrastructure design and construction approach toward building smart cities. To do that, geospatial companies must make their decisions, plans and everything else smarter than before.

The best way to do that effectively is by connecting and integrating GIS and BIM. Such integrated systems are the very foundation of the evolution to come. This evolution will include the most advanced infrastructure ranging from autonomous vehicles to entire smart cities.



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