Geospatial data, data related to or containing information about a specific location on the Earth’s surface, has become a part of our daily lives in recent years. Whether it is in sat nav systems, on Google maps, or on the smart watch on your wrist, it can be found almost everywhere we look. Since early 2020, geospatial data has been used by governments and health organisations across the globe to monitor the locations of coronavirus cases throughout the course of the pandemic, using GIS (geographic information systems) to analyse data and convert it into layered maps for easier interpretation.
In 2018, the UK Government set up the Geospatial Commission to set the UK’s geospatial strategy and coordinate public sector geospatial activity. In June of last year, the Commission launched the UK’s Geospatial Strategy 2020-2025, setting out the role it believes location data can play in areas such as improving infrastructure, tackling climate change, building new homes, and introducing electric vehicles to name but a few. The UK is already leading the way in data accessibility and usability, with the Global Open Data Index ranking Great Britain as third in the world behind Taiwan and Australia.
So what is the direct impact of geospatial data on the construction industry? At Soben, we have previously discussed the rise of digital twins and smart cities, and the importance to construction of staying ahead of the game when it comes to utilising new technologies.
Geospatial technologies are a critical component of smart city operations, with precise mapping data being used before, during and after a construction project. Geospatial construction, or ‘geoconstruction’ uses data from a wide range of focal points such as location, population, and environment, to influence the design and construction of a building in order to save, time, money and reduce waste.
In fact, the construction and property industry in the UK is already testing new ideas as to how to best use these different types of data. Property company Knight Frank’s geospatial team used data to identify Government owned car parks with limited use that could be converted into land for housing development.
BIM and GIS
BIM has already played a significant part in modernising planning and design in the construction industry. Merging data from BIM and GIS provides a geospatial element that should further improve efficiency and bring a new approach to the use of data in construction in planning, helping put buildings and infrastructure in the context of its surroundings.
Whilst BIM is key to the efficiency of the building and its construction, GIS data adds a smarter environmental context leading to more effective and efficient design and project management.
As ever as an industry we have a long way to go before the use of this type of integrated data becomes the norm, not least as there is a substantial lack of appropriate skills within the workforce at this current time, however with UK already prioritising geospatial data, and the industry’s increasing BIM adoption, the future is looking bright.