In late 2017, Autodesk and Esri announced a partnership to build a bridge between their respective BIM and GIS technologies. Here on GovDesignHub we also discussed what this means for government infrastructure design/build projects, most notably the ability to synthesize information from both BIM and GIS – with frictionless interoperability – to design in the context of the real world.
One of the first product capabilities born of the alliance is the Autodesk Connector for ArcGIS®. This feature in Autodesk InfraWorks allows you to connect GIS data in a more seamless manner to your BIM design model in InfraWorks. With this capability, all attributes of the GIS data are added to the InfraWorks model, making the 3D context model much more intelligent, robust and accurate.
But what does this really mean on the ground? Here are five use cases for public infrastructure projects (derived from Autodesk’s eBook: BIM & GIS Integration), made possible by removing traditional disconnects between BIM and GIS.
1) Capture existing conditions
BIM and GIS integration begins with the capture of existing conditions (known as “reality capture”) using a variety of tools including terrestrial LiDAR scanning and drone-mounted capture platforms. Once a site is scanned, a detailed set of data or “points” is captured for further processing. When this information is added to a model in InfraWorks it becomes a valuable source of 3D data that informs a more comprehensive existing conditions model.
Another form of data input into the information model is IoT. IoT sensors collect data about traffic, parking, climate, lighting, and utilities that can be used to improve the efficiency of individual assets on infrastructure projects, such as a single intersection, as well as systems of assets, such as a road network in a city.
2) Plan faster and more cost-effectively
Using GIS information in tools like InfraWorks also accelerates improves stakeholder engagement, accelerates project timelines, and reduces costs.
For example, Ramboll-Sweco team behind Norwegian high-speed railway extension project were able to fast-track the project and communicate design intent with over 120 stakeholders to drive design approvals.
They used InfraWorks as the common data environment for the entire project team, enabling a rigorous schedule of project reviews every 14 days – a process the team called Integrated Concurrent Engineering, or ICE. The project was able to recognize a 20%-time savings by implementing the Connected BIM process in the planning and approval phase of the project.
3) Analyze and simulate
By combining GIS, BIM, and reality capture data sources, infrastructure teams can conduct critical analysis and simulation to assess flood risk (video) in urban floodplains and coastal areas.
Using the same model, you can also perform traffic analysis. In the image below, red shows potential areas of delay and blue shows free flowing traffic. This data can be used to inform the real-time impacts of design decisions both of the road or intersection that’s being changed and potential impacts on other parts of the system.
Another use case for GIS and BIM takes simulation down to the micro-level such as evaluating pedestrian traffic around a large park for safety and accessibility. Other microsimulations could include the evaluation of parking structure, bus stops, and other transportation infrastructure.
4) Build a more sustainable infrastructure
Information from GIS can be leveraged in several ways to implement green infrastructure. For example, contextual models that incorporate GIS allow planners to combine rapid design and real-time analysis of stormwater management projects to meet performance requirements or sustainability standards such as minimizing or eliminating runoff.
GIS data can also be used to improve energy savings when combined with the BIM process. Data such as building heights and footprints allows city planners to see information like energy usage intensity, annual energy costs, and potential building candidates for retrofit.
5) Visualize design alternatives and intent (early in the design process)
Preliminary design tools like InfraWorks can save time and money early in any infrastructure project by incorporating GIS data within a 3D model for enhanced visualization. This insight can be used to show different design alternatives and communicate and conduct early stage design intent. Here’s an example from the city of Chicago which allows you to navigate through a 3D version of the city and visualize how different design alternatives would look at various stages along the Chicago River (created by WSP).
You can also add value to your models by adding virtual reality and augmented reality experiences around them for a 360-degree user view of surroundings.
Bringing it all together
As a result of the frictionless interoperability of GIS and BIM that helps the two technologies work seamlessly together, each of the above use cases allow government agencies and departments to deliver increasingly complex projects quicker, better communicate design intent, and reduce risks. what are the keys to success? Read the eBook: BIM & GIS Integration to learn more.
All images courtesy of Autodesk.