Four Benefits of Integrating BIM and GIS for Rail and Highways

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The road to digital transformation in architecture, engineering, and construction requires interoperable, accessible, and accurate streams of information to enable digital twins, smart assets, and smart cities. The complexity of linear infrastructure, the environmental impact, and project size require the talents of design and geospatial experts.

This article presents four benefits of an integrated approach to GIS and BIM for rail and highways, showing how together they improve digital delivery and productivity. It introduces a panel discussion that explores how Skanksa’s GIS and BIM teams successfully integrate Autodesk and Esri solutions, bringing value to all teams and stakeholders. Using specific project examples, Skanska’s leaders will explain how streamlining workflows between Revit, Civil 3D, and Esri ArcGIS provides a coordinated and enhanced experience to all end users.

Now onto the benefits of an integrated approach to GIS and BIM for rail and highways:

1. Improving Project Delivery from Design through Handover

A collaborative, multidisciplinary approach is essential, from project inception to handover to operations and maintenance. With the concept of the digital twin gaining in popularity and applied in a multitude of ways, GIS and BIM are able to combine the macro and micro to facilitate a seamless flow of integrated information to realize this concept. In the early stages of a project, where 3D model development falls behind the production of traditional 2D design, GIS is a key platform to consume, organize, and share project data with the team. Overcoming technical and cultural changes is also key in maximizing the benefits of digital transformation to bring all project stakeholders along this journey.

Road network

Related: Connecting BIM and GIS: The New Reality of Environmental Projects with Pal Porkolab

2. Facilitating Better Collaboration and Operational Efficiency

Integrating BIM and GIS enables teams to access the latest information quickly, overlaying the engineering design with geodesign, as well as linking the field with the office. This leads to improve collaboration among multiple stakeholders. It enables you to overcome the siloed approaches within AEC, while maximizing the value of available data to enhance project delivery and improve your digital productivity. Where 3D modeling is well suited for presenting the details of a developed design, GIS provides the context and an easily updatable platform to investigate design options, value engineering opportunities, and overlay with the current solution.

Layer list

3. Extending the Capabilities of GIS, BIM, and CAD

Solution development depends heavily on correctly identifying user requirements prior to technical implementation. These requirements typically are transferred via data, with different stakeholders choosing the format that best meets their needs. It is also likely that a particular solution needs a baseline of information that is provided either in GIS, BIM, or CAD, making data conversion essential to the success of the application. GIS interoperability is essential in communication with other systems extending the capabilities of each other.


4. Increasing the Value of BIM

Understanding the interconnectivity of the built environment in relation to a proposed design is necessary for all stakeholders. Ranging from the project managers to the contractor to the local communities, the ability to represent the geospatial context and place assets in the real world form the digital foundation that is essential for the realization of a digital twin. Where BIM platforms generally offer a rigid but well-defined set of features, the capabilities of GIS are more fluid and transformable, and can realize BIM in its full extent, limited only by data science skills. This creates a truly integrated digital platform, facilitating a bidirectional flow of information dependent on the application field.


Watch the panel discussion that explores how Skanksa’s GIS and BIM teams successfully integrate Autodesk and Esri solutions, bringing value to all teams and stakeholders.

Marc Goldman is the director of AEC Industry Solutions at Esri. He works with a global team to define and deliver the strategy for Esri’s products and solutions serving architecture, engineering, and construction users. Mr. Goldman is a leading expert in Building Information Modeling (BIM), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and their impact on the processes and business of the planning, design, and construction industry. Marc began his career in the first days of CAD, and he has evolved over 20 years of success defining, developing, and delivering services and technologies for design, engineering, manufacturing, and construction. He has worked with a strong international network of AEC executives, often creating winning joint ventures, partnerships, and customer relationships. He brings over two decades of delivering products and services for building, construction, and manufacturing.