How to utilise GIS in a complex project

Have you been frustrated about the copious data sets that crossed the functions for a single project and found it exponentially laborious to make the judgment?

Projects have their novelty that sets the project is distinct from the regular operation. The front-line operation, data collection, analysis, maintenance, management will run very strewed when there are no standard sets. Therefore, the first and foremost mission is to gather all the necessary information to construct a projection for every stakeholder to plan to avoid the crisis. If not, resources to deploy to the project will be either very tight or at a high cost.

In past decades, the technological transformation has been on the way. COVID-19 pushed the wave of change even faster and higher. We design a Dashboard, monitoring system, management system to facilitate smooth operational and managerial flows to another efficiency level. Automation is achieved through the compatibility of hardware, software, and the Internet of Things – a network of physical objects with sensors connecting and exchanging data over the Internet. The fundamental element among them is data. We are capable of collecting data at various individual functions. Here comes down an honest question – all functions contribute to a single project. They have sophisticated parameters to be understood. How can the decision be made incorporating all data sets from different stakeholders, not being confused, misunderstood, or missing?

Digitalisation evolves to help us to have bigger pictures and make better decisions. The well-known digital approach is visualisation. When integrating all data for decision-making, we have a favorable result of sound and convinced judgment. What are the type of projects involved and tools?

A Civil Engineering project comprises design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and built environment. Its complexity happens from a voluminous amount of data from various sources, differentiating by location, infrastructure, environment, and socio-economical factors. Meanwhile, environmental legislations come into force globally. Builders have to oblige to the environmental protection principles converging on the specific natural resources management. The ongoing effects of an intrusive construction project are monitored; otherwise, the builders will be blamed and punished by law against the environmental regulations. The ecological protection momentum accelerates the much better understanding of our environment and its complexity across social factors to determine the best project practices.

It is complicated to cross different reference data to finalise the proper, comprehensive decision. GIS, Geographical Information System, is a system that generates, controls, analyzes, and outlines all types of data (ESRI). Data sets will be connected through a map of the integrating location data with all sorts of descriptive information. The all-in-one map creates interactive inquiries, analyse spatial data. The users can edit the map. The GIS map will present the result of all. When the crossed functions information appears in one map, the decision-makers will have the whole picture of what their operations will cause based on the projected input within the project area. Stakeholders can understand each others concerns. They can easily communicate for change and cooperation. Project management will become swifter and more efficient. These are the distinct benefit of applying GIS to a scoping project.

Photo above: Terrain big data visualisation

Here are ways how GIS does good work in a civil engineering project.

GIS’s thematic map format visualise the completed work record, illustrating rates of operations, completed operations, and pending operations.

It graphically displays traffic information such as speed data, road geometry, traffic flow, picturing traffic management with the accident, and hot spot analysis and rerouting.

Monitoring and maintenance
GIS’s data integration functions, for example, for raster images and CAD drawings, empower the builders. The stakeholders can view scheduled maintenance work, ongoing activities, recurring maintenance problems, and historical information. The project impact can be traced through the network and analysed for monitoring and maintenance.

After measuring the location’s objects on the earth’s surfaces, the builders can incorporate the data into GIS to estimate the area and prepare digital maps.

Soil mapping
Soil stability is critical for development projects to decide the land use activities and prevent environmental deterioration. GIS can be used to identify and classify soil types.

GIS is useful when the builders have scenarios to assess site selection, environmental impact, ecosystem study, natural resources risk management, sustainability, traffic congestion, roads, and pipeline routing.

Data collection
Site data collected is beneficial for conducting predesign analysis, design, and field survey calculations.

Analysis and design
GIS can create data of grading, contouring, specifications, cross-sections, design calculations, mass haul plans, environmental mitigation plans, and equipment staging. The capability will reach a new higher level when the builders integrate traditional design tools and databases into GIS. GIS can perform water distribution analysis, traffic management analysis, soil analysis, site feasibility analysis, environmental impact analysis, volume or area analysis of catchment, river or canals pattern analysis, temperature and humidity analysis.

Utilising GIS can guide resource usages such as timely construction equipment use, seasonal fluctuation effects, dumpers, concrete truck routes optimisation, earth filling and cutting, volumes calculation, and constructed areas for estimation and valuation.

Presenting data by visualisation enhances stakeholders’ engagement and communication.

Environmental engineering and impact studies
Environmental impact studies are derived with physical data, geological data, biological data, social data, historical data, future development plans, industrial concerns, and other data. GIS empowers the builder to view trends, patterns, and relationships by visualising them.

Infrastructure protection
The builder will have to gather information from evacuation, elevation routes, inspection results, and structural specifications to respond to the situation quickly. Weather data, traffic, barrier protection, and the new changes can also be consolidated in GIS for real-time monitoring.

Building Information Modelling (BIM)
By integrating with BIM, the builders can blend data of different formats and visualize the object.

Site selection
When GIS links various data layers, the builders will identify the critical issues on the sites and make the comparison. The pre-assessment is essential to the project’s success.

Terrain mapping and analysis
The situation can be difficult to set foot on the location when it is a terrain area. GIS allows the builders to identify the optimal development locations on terrain areas and make a detailed analysis.

Planning and development
Integrating the information on demographics, natural resources, and other statistics in GIS can help the builders monitor the city’s growth and expansion direction to make sustainable decisions. The builders can apply GIS for highway maintenance, traffic modelling, accidental analysis, and route planning in the transportation project.

Utility management
It is crucial to map the utilities with their inventory systems, tracking maintenance, monitoring regulatory compliance or model distribution analysis, and land analysis. GIS can integrate modelling data to provide detailed analysis.

What about GIS for environmental protection projects? One of the our track records is to provide a desktop GIS software with an associated service package to map the tree records from the complaint register, Tree Register, and Tree Failure Database. The users are enabled in tracking the progress of follow-up action and mitigation measures completed by the tree management and maintenance departments.

Find out the potential use of GIS for your project with us now. 

By: ANewR Consulting Limited, a digital environmental consultant headquartered in Hong Kong since 2008. Our expertise has grown into the context of air and water qualities, noise, green building, waste management, and remediation. With extensive know-how in environmental planning and assessment, feasibility study and policy review, ecological design, monitoring, and audit (EM&A), ANewR has matured to be a leading management consultancy. Standing in the digital transformation reign, ANewR has participated in various environmental digital projects – interactive 3D visualisation, immersive automation virtual environment, Virtual reality, automation system, and monitoring platforms.
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