BIM and GIS: partners in digital delivery

by Dr Graham Kelly | May 7, 2021 | 3 min read

BIM and GIS: partners in digital delivery
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Digital development across the built environment is happening rapidly, at a rate when things are passing many organisations by without a sound understanding of what digital can do or the benefits it brings to our projects and the wider industry.

Ultimately converting to new ways of working and achieving greater efficiency is at the forefront of our minds, and what is driving the need to adopt new technologies, and fast. However, as we move further into the realm of the Internet of Things (IoT), we sometimes need to take a minute to reflect on the brilliance of what has been achieved so far and live in the moment, rather than pursuing the quest in searching for the next big thing!

Such as admiring the synergy between BIM and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). GIS is a framework for gathering, managing and analysing data, which makes it the perfect partner for BIM.

GIS data is necessary for planning all operations regarding any infrastructure for example, such as road networks, rail, airports, bridges and so on. It helps put the infrastructure into the context of its surroundings. Whereas BIM is the vital element that allows for the design and build process of said infrastructure to take place.

In creating structured, accurate and information-rich 3D model representations of the infrastructure, these can be further extended to link basic datasets with the powerful GIS functionalities that support spatial analysis.

In the early, days, the advent and use of GIS was an ambiguous area for some, especially when it came to understanding the relationship with BIM. Many have viewed BIM and GIS as being complimentary and a huge benefit for teams managing live projects where previously a lack of integration has limited the possibilities for how we manage design and construction projects more effectively.

The collaboration of the two over recent years has turned into a fascinating development, enabling whole cities to be visualised, managed and monitored in digital real-time solutions. It has also allowed for data to be captured and used to support informed decision making in order to enhance the environment in which we live, study and work.

BIM and GIS integration allows the blending a of model into layers of geospatial context so that designers can use GIS data to obtain the most accurate information about an area where construction is to take place. Combining the two creates the ability to assess the buildability of an asset in any location – adding GIS makes the big picture smarter.

Current industry trends demonstrate positive advancement in pursuit of some of the world’s most revolutionary digital solutions that allow for better connectivity across platforms/devices. BIM and GIS are a prime example. But for the successful delivery of any digital solution, it is critical to have a skilled, adaptable and open-minded team of professionals. Technology alone will not determine successful project delivery.

Generally, having a more diversely experienced team will better enable varying useful insights, such as understanding of the local environment, critical stakeholder objectives and system capabilities to ensure the final product is viable. When we put process and technology in place, we need to ensure the people implementing them have the right digital skillset.

In the years to come there will be a myriad of technological innovations which have the potential to improve the efficiency of the construction process. But for now, let us rejoice in the brilliance of the technology at our fingertips and use this to deliver outstanding projects by incredibly talented people.

For more information, please contact Dr Graham Kelly.