The Many Uses Of GIS In Engineering

Engineering requires various tools and technologies, and those tools and technologies are constantly evolving. One of the biggest advancements? GIS. The use of GIS in engineering, though relatively new, has the potential to revolutionize the industry. When you can visualize location-based data in an interactive map, insights become apparent, and analysis is made far easier. As an engineer, the opportunities this technology provides are endless. 

Advantages Of GIS For Engineers 

Manage Data Geographically

Whether it be a snowstorm in the rocky mountains, the construction of a new bridge in San Francisco, or a real estate sale in Dallas, every event has to happen somewhere. That’s one reason (of many) why GIS is such a powerful tool; it ties data to location, and for engineers, this is crucial. Once they know where their project is taking place, engineers can use GIS to learn about the surrounding population, the local flora and fauna, land conditions, and relevant zoning and permitting requirements. The best part is, all of that data will be tied to the location on a map, so when they need to reference it in the future, doing so will be easy.

Easily Access Data

Prior to the use of GIS in engineering, sharing important data could be an incredibly burdensome task for everyone involved in an engineering project. Drawings, data, and project plans would be passed along from engineers to other engineers, clients, and regulatory bodies, meaning professionals would often have to use their time hunting down information from multiple parties. With GIS, all of the necessary information is stored in one, easy to access location, to which any relevant party can be granted access. Everything is tied to a map so you know exactly where to look for data, and instead of switching between various programs to review it, GIS combines multiple file types to make the data cohesive. 

Streamline Workflows

There are a lot of steps in planning an engineering project, but with GIS, one application can handle virtually all of them – data capture, editing, analysis, visualization, design – you name it. This will both simplify the process and save engineers a good deal of time. The program keeps files and information organized, stores all necessary files in one place, and professionals can communicate new information to the entire team all at once by updating the map with new data. 

How Can You Use GIS In Engineering?

Using GIS in engineering is far more advantageous than using tabular data, as engineers can often “see” problems before a project even begins by analyzing a layered map and 3D models. Accordingly, the uses of GIS in engineering are virtually endless – these are just a few examples:

Infrastructure

GIS is a pivotal tool when it comes to building, repairing, and maintaining the infrastructure we rely on. Being able to visualize not only the structure itself but the environment that surrounds it allows engineers to see how each element interacts with one another. In short, GIS gives engineers the ability to quickly assess the suitability, risk, and capacity of projects, allowing them to better plan how they prioritize their work.

Asset management is another use of GIS in engineering. GIS maps let engineers see both the visible infrastructure and the infrastructure that lies below the surface, and it won’t just show that the infrastructure exists. It will also show detailed descriptions of the sewers, bridges, buildings, etc. For instance, by looking at a city’s wastewater management system on a GIS map, engineers could find data on previous repairs, the size and type of materials used, the location of prior bursts, and more. Tracking details such as these makes managing existing infrastructure significantly easier, as engineers will be working with all of the relevant information, not just bits and pieces. 

Environment 

GIS can also come in handy when conducting an environmental impact analysis. With a GIS map, engineers can add a layer for any element that affects or is affected by the environment. They can then overlay the data to see how the different elements interact with each other, showing patterns and relationships that wouldn’t otherwise be apparent. 

Not only that, but GIS growth models can also help predict future conditions. For example, say you were attempting to determine a particular city’s demand for water 15 years in the future. You could look at historical water use data, water flow at differing nodes, and population growth trends to come to a conclusion far more accurate than would have been possible. 

Site Analysis

When it comes to site analysis, GIS will be of huge benefit as well. To start, you could overlay zoning regulations, environmentally protected lands, soil and topographic maps, traffic flows, population growth, satellite images, etc. to quickly find suitable locations for a project. This makes siting an appropriate location for, say, a building that needs to be less than 50 miles away from raw material supplies, zoned for office space, and 15 miles from an interstate highway significantly easier – the program will highlight areas that meet every condition you require. 

Level Up Your Engineering Projects With MapRight

MapRight is an easy-to-use GIS-based digital toolbox that can help professionals during every step of an engineering project. We offer eight different base layers, over two dozen GIS layers, and an array of customizations so you can make your map exactly what you need. You can even upload, consolidate, and correct data from external sources. What you’ll end up with is an interactive map that’s not only beautiful, but provides the insights you need to plan your projects. And when the time comes to share your findings, we make that easy too. You can send your map via text, over email, or upload it online with the embed script we provide. So, are you ready to streamline your next engineering project? Start your free trial of MapRight today!  

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