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.

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

Transportation
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.

Surveying
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.

Planning
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.

Construction
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.

Management
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.
(Website: 
https://anewr.com, LinkedIn: ANewR Consulting Group, Twitter: ANewR – Everyday NewerYouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnpvmxnR9hbNxytSfBdfV8Q/videos)

What move could the corporates take to demonstrate their authentic selves?

The bottom line is the final total of an account or balance sheet. In 1994, the bottom line concept was essentially transformed because of the entrepreneur and business writer John Elkington. The triple bottom line was coined. The three bottom lines (Profit, People, and Planet) harmonise seamlessly with ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) that the corporates are coping with nowadays.

“Triple bottom line (TBL), in economics, believes that companies should commit to focusing as much on social and environmental concerns as they do on profits. TBL theory posits that instead of one bottom line, there should be three: profit, people, and the planet. A TBL seeks to gauge a corporation’s level of commitment to corporate social responsibility and its impact on the environment over time.” (Investopedia)

If the corporates do not look into the triple bottom line, they will be noted as obsolete. They may fall into a reputational crisis when they do not act on it. The operational practice mirrors the actual value they hold. Profit is straightforward to quantify as it is numerical. What about the intangible people and planet that seem not initiatively be compatible in the accounting? The far-reaching environmental and social impacts ironically shorten the sight into the business resolutions. It matters to sustainability, and this is the total cost of doing business, after all.

It is tricky to measure and communicate solidly for something uncertain. Standards are established to guide sustainability performance with a KPI set. It highly concerns stakeholders the business would affect. The corporates should get the KPIs managed with authentic actions.

What move could the corporates take to demonstrate their authentic selves?

When involving people, preventive maintenance will significantly change the course, and the result can be observed in the accounting – Total recordable incident rate (TRIR) and fatality rate for direct employees and contract employees.

Preventive maintenance is the systematic approach the owners take to protect the stakeholders from catastrophic operation failures in a precautionary way. The process entails routine inspections, maintenance, and repairs on assets. Not at the time when it breaks, but before it reaches its expiry.

In the building aspect, asset deterioration means a shorter building life expectancy and an unfriendly environment for tenants. In a factory area, machinery failure causes operation discontinuity; and affects operability and profitability. If corporates can predict the breakdown and act on it before, they will avoid vital loss on the asset, people, and eventually businesses. When the failure happens on consumer commodities, the prevention measures become more evident because the potential casualty points to productivity, safety, and reputation issues.

The above vivid revelations turn the triple bottom line apparent and the need for inspection, detection, correction, and prevention. These proactive procedures diminish the asset depreciation rate and extend the life of the assets, which would be exposed in the monetary term—notably, the financial consequence resulting from legal proceedings associated with defect- and safety-related incidents.

Our prime case study of the predictive maintenance using the acoustic camera to detect the flaws conceivably provoking derailment has shown us that the manual cost is 1.3 times higher than the predictive-maintenance-with-IoT cost. It is over 95% of accuracy to pick up the defect wheel of Rolling Stock. In worldwide, McKinsey once estimated the global rail maintenance market to be about EUR 50 billion per year. Among which, 25% efficiency is lost due to inefficient, unreliable predictive condition-based maintenance. SMRT’s 2016 annual report unveiled the number of rail maintenance staff by almost a quarter since 2013. Nearly half of the rail revenue was spent on maintenance-related tasks, rising by $18.0 million or 14.8% to $139.9 million, associated mainly with the strict maintenance regime for the ageing network and more trains scheduled overhaul, maintenance work.

Put yourself into the shoes of other infrastructure industries; when the asset size grows with extended operation hours, the duration between each checking for the same asset set also doubles. The preventive maintenance practice identifies a potential problem without interrupting regular operation. The method can reduce the number of breakdowns, unplanned maintenance, and the required level of reserve asset capacity. Once any irregularities have been detected, the department in charge will receive an alert, and hence they can follow-up action and repair the assets immediately to minimize accidents. It helps enhance the company’s corporate image by promising stakeholders and employees safety and customer services. Since the preventive maintenance is non-intrusive, i.e., being monitored and analysed in real-time, interruption to the regular operation remains ultimately minimal.

Maintenance is one of the value chains to support the corporate’s market status and customer service commitment. The predictive maintenance on the railway has reached tangible benefits – enhance the passenger safety, the feasibility of maintenance schedule of rolling stock, and the accuracy of maintenance checking. The performance can be seen in corporate’s integrated reporting. It is time to consider the transformative predictive maintenance approach for your assets.

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.
(Website: https://anewr.com, LinkedIn: ANewR Consulting Group, Twitter: ANewR – Everyday Newer, YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnpvmxnR9hbNxytSfBdfV8Q/videos)

What to define the electric vehicle’s effectiveness

The government of Hong Kong has published the “Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong 2035” in June 2021. We had no surprise that the content addresses air quality from the subject – the undeniable health and well-being issue. One of the suggesting measures is the electric vehicle (EV). But here, we should be alarmed that dealing with carbon emission for air quality is somewhat different from dealing with the climate change risk. The EV effectiveness is all based on the aim we target to assess.

Fossil fuel is the notorious carbon emission root. We immediately feel the carbon emission from the land transportation by its exhaust fumes. Vehicular emission poses health risks to bystanders. Another seemingly remote source of air pollution is marine and air transports. Faraway as it may seem, scholar unveils that we had seventy per cent of ship emissions within four hundred kilometres of land (Eyring et al. 2010). Marine transport is no less during the COVID-19 period. It is the cheaper means of transport if compared with air freight. That is why the shipping demand increases because of globalisation, which is becoming the origin of pollution.

The link above: A webinar by Heliox, a world leader in charging infrastructure and power conversion for commercial electric mobility at Matters Academy

The electric vehicle is an alternative technology that produces less waste and is less harmful to well-being, recognised by todays’ news. Figures from one of the intelligent energy management solution providers, Heliox, has shown that EVs may potentially reach the targets of reducing over ninety-seven per cent of NOX, ninety per cent of carbon emission and sixty-six per cent of particulate emissions. EV development issues are still at the early stage as a whole, revealed in the “Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong 2035”. With such an alluring good number of potentially reduced, why is the adoption of the EV technologies slow? The answer may be found at the Pillars of Design Philosophy (Heliox).

The photo above: Pillars of Design Philosophy (information provided by Heliox)

The Pillars of Design Philosophy segments different stages of building an EV compatible program. Each step has to meet certain specifications to implement the EV infrastructure – whether the grid can support the EV facilities, the depot characteristics, what charging strategy is suitable, the connectivity, equipment and maintenance such as charger care and connectivity services. All of these explains well the likely high cost incurred for EV adoption and the difficulty.

All of the above are proposed based on the clean air subject. Does it necessarily imply EV dealing with the more thorny issue – climate change? Remind that EV charging gets to feed on electricity generation and charging facilities. Carbon Brief, an online platform that won investigative journalism, had the following findings (source – https://www.carbonbrief.org/factcheck-how-electric-vehicles-help-to-tackle-climate-change):

  • “EVs are responsible for considerably lower emissions over their lifetime than conventional (internal combustion engine) vehicles across Europe as a whole.”
  • “In countries with coal-intensive electricity generation, the benefits of EVs are smaller, and they can have similar lifetime emissions to the most efficient conventional vehicles – such as hybrid-electric models.”
  • “However, as countries decarbonise electricity generation to meet their climate targets, driving emissions will fall for existing EVs, and manufacturing emissions will fall for new EVs.”
  • “Comparisons between electric vehicles and conventional vehicles are complex. They depend on the size of the vehicles, the accuracy of the fuel-economy estimates used, how electricity emissions are calculated, what driving patterns are assumed, and even the weather in regions where the vehicles are used. There is no single estimate that applies everywhere.”

Be aware that EV is not the panacea for our burning climate issues. Without a detailed assessment, it is hard for us to realise the real impact of EVs on climate change. So far, the information we have found implicates the best possible cure for climate change is non-fossil fuel energy generation. While we are queuing to advance to the next genuine sustainability era, we apply modelling to analyse energy consumption to tackle the problem right in front of us as an environmental consultancy.

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.
(Website: https://anewr.com, LinkedIn: ANewR Consulting Group, Twitter: ANewR – Everyday Newer,
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnpvmxnR9hbNxytSfBdfV8Q/videos)