Combining 3D GIS and BIM to improve collaborative working
The Skanska, Costain and STRABAG Joint Venture (SCS JV) has improved collaboration on a multi-billion pound engineering project, by integrating 3D GIS and BIM models to create one of the most advanced 3D mapping systems in the UK. Using this state-of-the-art solution, teams can share information and make better decisions to reduce costs and improve safety.
Bespoke solution developed using Esri’s ArcGIS Enterprise and 3D City Information Model
Web app puts BIM models in the 3D geographic context of the environment in which they exist for the first time
Simplicity of ArcGIS web app makes solution easy to use for all the organisation’s employees
The Skanska, Costain and STRABAG Joint Venture (SCS JV) is responsible for delivering a key section of Britain’s new high speed railway line, High Speed 2 (HS2), from Euston to the edge of Greater London. In this multi-billion pound rail infrastructure contract, numerous teams need to work together and communicate effectively to ensure that the best possible decisions are made throughout the duration of the project.
Given the complexity and scale of this development, SCS JV has to be able to properly store, manage, exchange and visualise an extraordinary amount of information and highlight how surrounding areas and assets are being affected by new infrastructure. The organisation therefore relies on both a geographic information system (GIS) solution from Esri UK and a separate Building Information Modelling (BIM) solution. “The goal was to combine the strengths of these two domains and create a single solution that would give our employees all the information they need in one place,” says George Floros, GIS Data Specialist and developer of 3DGIS/BIM at SCS JV.
“Our pioneering work in combining 3D GIS data with 3D BIM is transforming the way that teams collaborate and helping SCS JV to ensure the successful delivery of one of the largest rail infrastructure projects in Europe.”
George Floros, GIS Data Specialist at the Skanska, Costain and STRABAG Joint Venture
SCS JV had previously used Esri’s ArcGIS Enterprise to create a series of web apps, making GIS data and mapping tools available to all SCS JV teams working on the HS2 project. “ArcGIS already supported collaboration in our business by giving everyone easy, intuitive access to all our project information in 2D,” says James Gasson, GIS Manager at SCS JV. “What we did next was to move this up a level and create a platform for sharing 3D GIS data, integrated with our 3D BIM data.”
Named GeoBIM, the solution was developed by George Floros in SCS JV, by enriching Esri’s 3D City Information Model, integrating it with other third party tools, and making it available to the team via the ArcGIS Enterprise portal. One of the most advanced 3D GIS systems in the UK, it includes a workflow for inputting BIM data, based on industry standards, open source components and Esri templates.
Now, employees can gain a 3D view of the HS2 route, buildings and surrounding landscape, all in one place for the first time. The ArcGIS solution also allows employees to perform analysis of the 3D environment and query BIM models in ways that were not possible before. Gasson explains: “In the past, employees could view BIM models but there was no contextual information to help them make sense of the diagram. It was just a model hovering in space. The strength of the Esri platform is that it puts BIM models in the 3D context of the urban or rural environment in which they exist.”
Another key advantage of the new ArcGIS-based 3D solution is its ease of use. “By transferring high quality BIM models into ArcGIS, and releasing them via our ArcGIS web apps, we have made it easy for hundreds of employees to explore the route and features of the HS2 project in 3D,” Gasson says. “You don’t need to be a GIS specialist to use the system; anyone, in any role, can view the 3D data in the context of the surrounding geography.”
“By transferring high quality BIM models into ArcGIS, and releasing them via our ArcGIS web apps, we have made it easy for hundreds of employees to explore the route and features of the HS2 project in 3D.”
James Gasson, GIS Manager at the Skanska, Costain and STRABAG Joint Venture
Improved collaboration on HS2 development
Using the 3D GIS and BIM solution, employees can now work together more effectively, as they share a deeper understanding of the HS2 route, existing infrastructure and planned new assets. “Our pioneering work in combining 3D GIS data with BIM is transforming the way that teams collaborate and helping SCS JV to ensure the successful delivery of one of the largest rail infrastructure projects in Europe,” Floros says.
More cost efficient project delivery
By minimising the need for site visits, the new 3D GIS and BIM solution also reduces health and safety risks, as accidents are more likely to occur on construction sites. Furthermore, the solution plays a key role in ensuring the safety of HS2’s future employees and passengers, by making it easier for specialist design teams at SCS JV to view and evaluate the proposed emergency exit routes in 3D BIM models and ensure they are placed in the best locations.
Fast, well-informed decision-making
Significantly, the new 3D GIS and BIM solution gives employees at SCS JV fast, easy access to accurate information, which accelerates business processes and helps employees to make the right decisions, the first time, to avoid unnecessary delays in the construction of HS2. “ArcGIS empowers everyone to take measurements and do more technical tasks themselves, without having to wait for an expert to become available, enabling the project to progress more quickly,” Gasson says. “Everyone has access to the accurate data they need to make fast, well-informed decisions and deliver a high quality rail infrastructure for the UK.”