Civil engineering projects, by their very nature, involve the storage, manipulation and analysis of many different types of information. Historically, this information has been stored and manipulated in the form of maps and engineering drawings, and has been coordinated and analysed in the mind of the design engineer. The evolution in information technology has altered this scenario. Nowadays, the conventional design process encompasses the collection of digital base data and the development of engineering design in sophisticated software packages such as MOSS, GDS and AutoCAD.
In addition there have been rapid developments in the demands placed on design engineers in terms of legislative, environmental and economic constraints. It is important in terms of cost minimisation, public accountability and the design process that the engineer is seen to have produced a design that incorporates the relevant data through adoption of appropriate mitigation measures.
Environmental impact assessments of preliminary design proposals often result in recommendations for design alternation and mitigation and the presentation of a range of options to satisfy those recommendations. The engineer then has to evaluate this information in terms of engineering limitations, identified environmental constraints, operational requirements and planning restrictions.
The type of data that might be required is diverse in the least: thematic environmental maps; qualitative descriptions; preliminary engineering drawings; topographic data (in paper or digital form; other thematic mapping including soils, geology, drainage etc. is usually small scale and paper-based; a mixture of information types from under-resourced local authorities. All these data (and more) are vital to the establishment of a coherent project design and management tool; identification of real data requirements and the methods of collecting and collating them are critical to effective infrastructure development.
Coordination, management, analysis and presentation of the diversity of data encompassed represents the key to a smooth development operation. Conflicts can be resolved through improved data access and management and through the utilisation of integrative tools for monitoring and evaluation.
The use of geographic information systems (GIS) creates the opportunity in the development process not only to carry out more detailed and accurate coordination and analysis but, also offers the opportunity to convey the constraints and mitigation measures and design logic to a wider audience at a time when public interest in responsible engineering development is high.
The information collected can continue to be of relevance both to the design team and to the public consultation process through the implementation phase. Subsequently, the collected data and the monitoring systems installed can be incorporated into the overall management information systems (MIS) of the installation or structure.
Having worked closely with consulting engineers over the last 10 years, GISL Limited bring an important amalgam of understanding, practicality and achievement to the fore in the pursuit of the efficient and effective solutions essential to the planner and engineer alike.