A Partnership May Transform Traditional GIS, BIM and CAD Data Exchange
Melanie Stone posted on March 03, 2020 |
vGIS an MGISS partner to combine 3D formats in augmented reality
vGIS augmented reality interface on a tablet. (Picture courtesy of vGIS.io.)
vGIS augmented reality interface on a tablet. (Picture courtesy of vGIS.io.)

Building owners, operators and additional companies that help build or renovate them face a variety of operational challenges. Managing complex data from geographic information systems (GIS), building information models (BIMs) and computer-aided design (CAD) sources is only one of those myriad challenges—but one that more technology should be able to simplify.

A visualization platform, vGIS, aims to make this vast amount of data more accessible and intuitive to consume by melding consumer-level technologies (like smartphones and tablets) with infrastructure and building information through the use of augmented reality (AR).

This transcontinental development is the result of a collaboration between MGISS, a geospatial firm based in the United Kingdom, and Toronto’s vGIS.

Mike Darracott, managing director and founder of MGISS, said: “Initiatives such as digital twinning and the expectation of ‘Business as Usual’ (BAU) operations require the capture and representation of increasing complex real-world environments. Asset owners and operators face a number of challenges and opportunities, including the need to improve safety, reduce risk, and ensure what lies beneath our feet meets future infrastructure needs.”

While a 3D visualization of a facility may not always be required, even a simple 3D model created quickly can go a long way in communicating to those who don’t have a design and technical background.

Taking advantage of 3D visualization on the site using ordinary and familiar consumer hardware, like tablets, makes a lot of sense. You don’t have to go back and forth between the site and the workstation in your office—a common inconvenience for users working with modeling software.

Since the dawn of BIM—in my case, an introduction to Revit in 2004—users have needed an improvement in the process of maintaining buildings like that which this vGIS and MGISS partnership aims to provide.

For example, not long ago, performing work in a hospital’s patient care areas used to entail a carry-a-ladder-lift-a-tile-and-spray-a-lot-bleach approach, which is not a foolproof method of infection control and disturbs the flow of the hospital floor. While mobile containment units are more common now, and would be required to perform an actual repair, exploratory searches above the ceiling could be eliminated with this technology.

We envision teams with tablets, not only sharing what they see, but also receiving 3D images and instructions for troubleshooting many systems, especially those that are harder to access physically, such as isolation techniques like positive and negative air pressure rooms. Against the backdrop of a world gripped in fear of the coronavirus, improvements like this do more than impact an operator's bottom line; they could save lives.


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