GIS and BIM Integration in Infrastructure Design and Construction

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Introducing geospatial services to infrastructure design and construction leads to building much safer, and smarter, transportation methods, roads, and buildings. Merging BIM and GIS data provides a geospatial element that can be used in infrastructure design, allowing for more efficient workflows and consistent data. 

This initiative came from the knowledge that the AEC industry has been facing a real challenge. How to solve the puzzle of lost data between the stages of the construction process? From the planning stage down to operations and construction, vital segments of information are lost.

Since the latest technology used in this industry is solely relying on consistent data and software systems, such a problem has been causing more issues than the industry can solve. Each time data is moved between the stages of a certain project, 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 have to retrieve that data, sometimes manually, which causes even more problems. The GIS industry stepped forward by making a move towards 3D modeling to solve this issue.

Building Information Modeling in Construction and Design

The rapid evolution of the BIM industry made a real disruption in both the design and construction industries. This evolution includes a digital transformation, shifting from 2D to 3D building information modeling. The emergence of BIM and GIS integration brings a whole new approach to construction and planning. 

Image License: Illustration 71782433 © Sentavio – Dreamstime.com

This approach allows introducing a geospatial element to BIM design. This means that construction and infrastructure design companies can plan and put their newly built objects in the matching contexts of their surrounding environment. 

The BIM and GIS Integration and Benefits

GIS data is necessary for planning all operations regarding any infrastructure such as rail networks, airports, bridges, roads, and so on. It helps put this infrastructure in the context of its surroundings. 

While GIS helps 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.

Image credit: John Victor

BIM and GIS integration is the process of blending the BIM model into layers of the geospatial context. So, designers can use GIS to get the most accurate information about some areas where construction is to take place. If the area is prone to flooding, designers will learn about it and influence a structure’s construction materials, orientation, location, etc.


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The reason why this matters is that GIS information can be applied to the country, regional, and city scales. On the other hand, BIM data is closely tied to designing and constructing a specific object, structure, or shape. By combining the two, you get the capability to build any structure at an object level. 

GIS adding makes the entire picture bigger 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.

Here are some of the benefits of GIS and BIM integration:

  • Eliminating data redundancy
  • Moving data seamlessly between the stages of the design and construction process
  • Adding more effective geospatial context to the BIM process
  • Reducing costs and saving money
  • Better and improved designs
  • Storing in the cloud to improve data management in any environment
  • Reusing and repurposing data if necessary
  • Eliminating the need to convert data for use in other contexts

Long-Term Savings and Efficient Design

Regardless of what the contractors’ goal is, to turn some object into an open-air construction site or scale the entire process down to the factory-level prefabrication, minimizing data losses and time as well as improving logistics scheduling, become a top priority. 

The use of BIM and GIS introduces a whole new spatial element to this smart and innovative industrialized construction process with one simple goal in mind – to increase the efficiency of the entire design and construction process. 

Companies that provide geospatial services use geographic information systems and BIM modeling to enable better design, making every process, operation, and construction project much more efficient in terms of effort, time, and resources.

The integration and synthesis of these advanced technologies can be applied to any design and construction project at hand. The digital work that comes as a direct result of the integration is a very effective way to retrieve, store, and index and record vital data. The necessary information can be used to support any project and see it through to a successful end.

Post-Construction and GIS/BIM Integration

Aside from being useful in pre-construction, geospatial services, BIM modeling, and geographic information systems can be used in post-construction too. Since facilities management requires data, too, the flexible GIS/BIM model ensures the operations get every piece of information needed.

The integration is particularly useful to the clients as well. They can use the integrated GIS/BIM solutions to retrieve and reuse vital data through each stage of the structure’s lifecycle.

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 be able to do that, geospatial companies have to make their decision, planning, and everything else much smarter than ever 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 might include the most advanced infrastructure ranging from autonomous vehicles to entire smart cities.

About the author: John Victor has been an avid blogger for 5 years, with particular interests in CAD and related technologies. He is now associated with IndiaCADworks. His other interests are in blogging, movies and photography.


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