December 15, 2022

Four Reasons to Apply GIS on a Project

There are many benefits to using GIS on a project, four stand out for improving accuracy in project deliverables and keeping private development and public infrastructure projects on schedule. There are many benefits to using GIS on a project, four stand out for improving accuracy in project deliverables and keeping private development and public infrastructure projects on schedule.

By Kyle Feffer, Land GIS Manager

At Westwood, our Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team works continuously to ensure successful projects through the use and development of innovative GIS applications and practices. For example, by combining drone aerial imagery and real-time site observations, we can enhance the construction process, minimize changes in the field, and identify non-conformances on site. This data, and an up-to-date punch list, can be easily viewed by our clients in a single georeferenced real-time dashboard. 

GIS provides so much valuable data at our fingertips that it has become a standard tool used by many of Westwood's professional service groups and on projects within every market we serve. Although there are many benefits to incorporating GIS on a project, four stand out.  

1. Real-Time Data Engages Stakeholders 

When Westwood's GIS team gets involved in the early stages of a project, we develop a complete database schema to collect asset information. And because the GIS data is collected and stored in a digital database which is built in real-time, it is viewable by many project stakeholders at once and enables project efficiencies. Furthermore, digital versions of the data allow stakeholders to filter information to their specific needs. 

2. Spatial Overlay of Datasets Provides a Clear Picture  

Using GIS technology, users can spatially overlay different sets of data, which provides stakeholders with a more comprehensive view of a project to further assess and support good decision-making.  

For example, our GIS team overlaid data of the existing electric vehicle (EV) chargers with EV vehicle registrations where they were available across the United States. When analyzed together, one could infer where EV charging investments may be needed due to the ratio of EVs-to-charging station availability.  

Creating data overlays can also aggregate disparate datasets and provide higher-level project insight and analysis relating to civil site design, environmental hazards, site elevations, aerial maps, socioeconomic awareness, and transportation routes. 

3. Spatial Calculations Supports Unified Processes 

The high-quality data produced by Westwood's GIS team helps build automated models for large-scale spatial calculations. The calculations ensure a uniform process for data consistency in our team's deliverables, therefore delivering consistent, accurate, and precise data to our clients, which guarantees a more efficient workflow and higher confidence levels in the final deliverable.  

4. Improves Project Communications and Timelines 

Using GIS technology provides the option to optimize site design and construction monitoring. For example, Westwood's GIS team sets up tracking to provide notifications when project components arrive at a site. These notifications improve communication with the construction teams and keep the project on schedule.  

The Future of GIS  

The future is bright for GIS in the engineering project process. GIS technology and artificial intelligence (AI) are colliding, which we anticipate will further enhance data collection processes and result in additional cost efficiencies. 

Westwood's GIS team continues to develop new and creative ways to apply GIS to improve the way we do our work and deliver optimal project solutions. Across our markets, our clients benefit from the efficiencies and high-quality, dependable project data supported by GIS solutions. 

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