Competitive or complementary?
One of the first questions I’m often asked when I talk to FM and real property managers about the idea of using GIS for their facilities management is, “what about BIM?” They are concerned about whether I am suggesting bringing in a solution that is redundant to or even competitive with their BIM technology.
BIM or building information model technology allows facility planners, designers, and builders to collect and manage the great amounts of detailed data necessary for building and campus design and construction. Over the past decade, these solutions have grown more robust and easier to use. This has been great news for the design and construction industry. However, BIM is not GIS. The power of GIS in building management is the same thing that makes GIS unique among all types of business intelligence; the ability to bring the geographic or spatial dimension into the management and analysis process. The same types of critical questions that a GIS answers outside a building are equally valuable being answered inside: Where are my assets located and how can I most efficiently place and maintain them? Where are the best locations for groups of people who do complementary tasks? Where is my energy usage higher than it should be and why?
The great news is that BIM data, complete and accurate as a building is completed, provides the data input to the GIS, giving those charged with operating, maintaining, and updating a facility an accurate starting point for their work. So, in fact, BIM and GIS work hand in hand to give designers, builders, and facility managers both the data and the best systems to manage that data over the various periods of a facility’s life cycle.
Can BIM be used for ongoing facility management? Yes, it can. Can GIS be used for design and construction? Of course. But the real power of these technologies lies in utilizing each for what it is best at—BIM for design and construction and GIS for ongoing management. These are complementary technologies, and the building facility life cycle is most efficiently served by employing each for the tasks it does best.