In Las Vegas, engineers at VTN Consulting, a civil engineering and land planning firm, are beginning to use GIS and analytics to bolster communication and collaboration among project stakeholders. Their pilot project, based on Autodesk's AutoCAD Map 3D and Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler software, interweaves civil, geospatial and building data. Planners, GIS analysts, project managers, architects, city leaders and other stakeholders can visualize projects in context and with existing parameters, such as underground utility lines, traffic patterns and surrounding buildings.
"Traditionally, engineers have to work with multiple two-dimensional paper plans that are tucked away in different silos," says Keith Warren, VTN's Building Information Manager.
VTN's project comprises a central database that serves as a storehouse for survey and architecture plans, infrastructure specs and more. Pinpoints include water and sewer pipes, utilities, street signs, parcels, roadways and structures. Information is rendered in 3-D so that users can visually analyze the impact of new construction or renovations based on site requirements.
The striking models can help planners decide the number and location of street lamps to place outside a new building based on a light and shadow assessment of the structure and its environment. Or they can clearly illustrate utility thresholds for various proposed projects -- for instance, a library would probably consume less energy than a casino.
Warren says the database was built using standard GIS fields so that clients will be able to hook into their own analytics engines. For instance, if a building's air conditioner goes out, repairmen would not only be able to call up its exact location but whether nearby air conditioners also are in need of service based on their maintenance records.
Saving animals' lives
For the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), stepping up business analytics to include GIS data is literally a matter of life and death.
Millions of cats and dogs enter animal shelters annually, and more than half are euthanized due to non-health-related issues such as overcrowding. The ASPCA battles this overpopulation crisis with low-cost or free services, including spay/neuter clinics and outreach programs that teach responsible pet ownership.
However, knowing where to target limited resources can be difficult, according to Greg Miller, GIS analyst for the ASPCA. "The ASPCA used analytics to study the communities its shelters serve, but couldn't always uncover why, despite the availability of critical services, there hasn't been a reduction in incoming dogs and cats," Miller says.
The ASPCA is convinced the missing link has been location information, Miller says.