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Home arrow Experts arrow Guest Contributors arrow GISuser Expert Feature - Information Modeling for the Geospatial Professional     

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GISuser Expert Feature - Information Modeling for the Geospatial Professional PDF Print E-mail
Experts - Guest Contributors
Written by Michael W. Schlosser   
24 January 2011

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is beginning to impact the geospatial industry as it attempts to deal with the increasing use of data rich, intelligent 3D design models of our world’s infrastructure.

  If BIM is new to you, you’re not alone. Until recently, BIM has been the domain of architects and building owners. However, BIM is not just about buildings anymore (BIM Expanded). BIM is being embraced by municipalities, utilities, transportation departments, campuses and others with an interest in infrastructure. In fact, the adoption of BIM among contractors, engineers and others is accelerating (McGraw-Hill Construction SmartMarket Report).

What is BIM?

If CAD and GIS are the tools, BIM is the toolbox. Specifically, BIM is a process - not software - that lets you explore a project’s physical and functional characteristics digitally, before it’s built. BIM encompasses CAD, GIS, databases, visualization software and more. What makes BIM unique is intelligent 3D models - models capable of interacting with their digital 3D worlds. For example, with a BIM process subdivision models can react to new survey data by automatically updating volumetric information corresponding to site grading quantities.

Again, the BIM process includes more than just CAD and GIS. BIM encompasses:

  • Model based design
  • Surveying and data collection
  • Planning, site selection and conceptual design
  • Clash detection, simulation and analysis
  • Visualization
  • Multidiscipline coordination
  • Construction and construction management
  • Operations and maintenance

Why BIM?

The promise of significant return on investment (ROI) is a major reason for the adoption of BIM. Many organizations measure BIM ROIs of more than 100% with some reporting ROIs upwards of 1000% (McGraw-Hill Construction SmartMarket Report).

Unlike GIS, the BIM process applies throughout the entire project lifecycle including planning, conceptual design, detailed design, construction, operations and infrastructure management. Consequently, with a BIM approach, geospatial professionals are able to engage with their design counterparts throughout the entire project lifecycle and not just during front end planning or backend management phases.

BIM is used in many ways (Journal of Information Technology in Construction) from enhancing project performance to obtaining LEED certification; from reducing environmental impact to improving management decisions. The benefits of BIM are many:

  • Improved workflows make it easier to integrate design and geospatial data.
  • Stakeholder approvals are improved when BIM models (coupled with GIS for real-world context) are used to create photorealistic visualizations and animations.
  • Projects are delivered faster, more economically with fewer RFIs, fewer change orders and reduced environmental impact.
  • Better communication and collaboration among many disciplines leads to be better planning and better designs.

So what?

The BIM process is impacting how we work with design and geospatial data. Information modeling and the inclusion of GIS in the BIM process will ultimately result in better planning, faster visualization and more effective management of our infrastructure. As our nations continue to struggle with crippling infrastructure deficits and with the ever present pressures to do more with less, any advancements that result in better decision making, superior designs, and increased efficiency are welcome.

About the Author

Article by Michael W. Schlosser (www.geoExpressions.blogspot.com)
January 21, 2011. Michael is a Professional Engineer who has worked in the GIS industry since 1988. He is currently a Geospatial Technical Specialist with Autodesk where he's worked since 2002. Follow Michael on Twitter @engis

Disclaimer: The materials contained and opinions expressed in this article are my own and are not necessarily those of Autodesk 

Last Updated ( 22 May 2013 )
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