How GIS Provides Value to Owners

By Amador Castro, Acoustical Technician

Driving project success using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) methods and technology

Insightful spatial analytics and services conducted with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) methods and technology can efficiently communicate real-world data through maps, graphic and written materials. The array of industries and work environments that rely on GIS services vary from practical uses in construction planning to research-based demographics studies. Through the expanding access to specialized geo-databases and the integration of comprehensive spatial analytic tools, the processes offered by current GIS technologies serve purposes that go beyond the display of physical features on maps.

How GIS adds value on projects

The collection, analysis, and presentation of spatial data have a great impact on the planning and shaping of our daily life. By offering the ability to create models of spatial changes in the built environment, GIS services are becoming an increasingly useful component within the fields of project and construction management.

Land Use Analysis. Through the use of publicly available and privately generated geospatial “layer” shapefiles, GIS technology can help analyze the local and regional trends of new land developments and possible future changes in land use classifications. Land change and use analysis allow local municipalities and private entities to generate their own data layers, as these can be accurately collected by field technicians. In addition, the combination of remote sensing technology (using sensors on airplanes or satellites), and ground-level data-collecting devices, provides a more precise classification and quantification of land use as it changes over time.

Demographic Analysis. Demographic information (total population, age groups, income, etc.) is often represented in GIS platforms as individual, or as a combination of different features belonging to a real-world physical boundary. Also known as aggregates, this type of information is useful given the importance of demographic shifts in the planning of short and long-term development. Past changes in demographics can be used with GIS to build spatial statistical models in order to predict the “where” and “how many” questions concerning where various segments of the population will live within a chosen location.

Method Evaluation. As environmental public policies evolve over time, the changes in technology and materials used to mitigate the detriments caused by environmental conditions serve as a reference that informs the needed changes to current methods. For example, Cotter Consulting (Program Management/Construction Management) PM/CM for the Residential Sound Insulation Program (RSIP) in Chicago, has benefited from the use of GIS technology as a planning and record-keeping tool when assisting the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) with current and future methodology decisions.

Environmental Impact. New developments are often required to provide an overall assessment regarding their estimated impact on local traffic, waterways and air quality within their vicinity. In order to meet these standards, GIS allows local authorities and developers to work together to predict the impact of new infrastructure on both the built and the natural environment. While GIS spatial models can help predict the additional vehicles expected due to a new development, they can also assist in quantifying the effects of the additional stormwater runoff caused by the new ground surfaces such as roads, parking lots, and other paved surfaces.

Author
Amador Castro Acoustical Technician