Sometimes the view from above can be a valuable addition to your projects. Today, data from GIS (geographic information system) technology can be leveraged across many different facets of the business in construction.

These systems, which capture, store, analyze, and manage data with geographic location data references, are more than what they used to be for contractors. Given the spatial and modeling capabilities of the technology, GIS can also be incorporated as part of the BIM (building information modeling) strategy as well.

AECOM Technology Corp.,, Los Angeles, Calif., considers this technology to be a significant tool for use in the technical delivery of services to clients around the world. The company says it is actively implementing GIS across its global business lines and geographies to improve the efficiency and quality of project delivery and long-term project performance.

For AECOM, GIS is already paying dividends. A recent project in China that involved the analysis of residential access to parks and open space was aided through the use of GIS. Matthew Palavido, senior GIS specialist for AECOM’s design + planning business line, talks about the project, saying, “On the surface, just looking at the plan, it appeared as though there were adequate parks distributed throughout the plan.

“However, using GIS, we were able to analyze population densities in relation to distances to the nearest park, and the analysis clearly showed that certain areas of the land-use plan had limited access to parks due to a lack of pedestrian or transit infrastructure,” he says. “Using this information, the planners were able to address the issue by reconfiguring the plan to provide better access to parks for potential residents.”

Palavido has seen estimates that show up to 80% of a project’s data either has a spatial component or is location based. By using GIS, AECOM can access an array of data and discover complex spatial patterns and relationships that previously may have gone unnoticed. This is due to AECOM’s vast enterprise GIS databases, according to Palavido, who says it contains multiple spatial datasets that cover a wide range of subject matter. This includes transportation, environment, planning, economics, and sustainability.

The value of GIS touches so many areas and regions for AECOM, that the benefits seem endless. This even includes integrating a BIM (building information modeling) system or traditional relational database, for the purposes of having GIS play a supportive role in decision-support for facility management. And this is merely one example.