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GIS for Asset Management: the complete guide

GIS in Asset Management helps to map data relating to asset location and characteristics. Find out how to implement it

Those working in the field of Asset Management know how important it is to easily locate their assets and instantly obtain reliable information on their conditions and performance.

However, this becomes challenging when the assets to manage are numerous and located in different geographical areas, more or less distant from each other.

Today, resource management can be facilitated by associating Asset Management with GIS (Geographic Information System) technology. To simplify maintenance processes, I recommend using a GIS asset management software that, through map-based visualizations, offers a powerful system to map the location of your resources and record all data related to their operation.

If you are not familiar with this technology and want to learn more, discover the uses and benefits of the integration between GIS and Asset Management.

What is GIS Asset Management

The term GIS Asset Management refers to asset management processes focused on the use of geographic information systems, commonly known as GIS.

Asset Management represents the set of activities aimed at managing an organization’s physical resources throughout all stages of their lifecycle, in order to meet the strategic objectives set by the company.

Various types of assets can be part of a company’s assets, including real estate, goods, plants, machinery, equipment, and so on.

In most cases, these resources are not concentrated in a single location but are distributed over a rather large geographical area. They are also so numerous and diverse that their localization, management, and monitoring processes become almost impossible to develop using traditional methods.

Therefore, the opportunity to use GIS systems to reduce complexity that usually characterizes Asset Management processes is becoming increasingly prominent. Let’s discover how this technology works and why it is so important in the field of resource management.

What is GIS mapping

GIS mapping is the process that allows creating and storing data on a geographic map for subsequent analysis, processing, and querying. The term GIS specifically refers to the computer tools through which this process can be implemented.

The main objective of GIS mapping is to “georeference” data. GIS systems allow registering any type of information by integrating it with data related to its spatial location.

GIS data is characterized by two essential components:

  • a spatial component that serves to identify the object’s, element’s, or data’s position in space;
  • a descriptive component that aims to provide additional information regarding spatial requirements and helps characterize each element both qualitatively and quantitatively.
GIS data features

GIS data features

The importance of GIS in asset management

GIS technology has become indispensable in many sectors, but it offers a significant contribution especially in Asset Management because it helps solve the inefficiencies that have always characterized the processes of managing and maintaining resources.

One of these inefficiencies is related to the difficulty in identifying the exact location of assets when they are too numerous and/or distributed in different places.

As we have seen before, GIS provides the necessary tools to create and provide geographically referenced information that ensures a quicker and more efficient location of resources.

But the usefulness of this technology does not end with providing simple information about the location.

GIS can associate additional attributes to the spatial data of a given element, which can be layered and displayed in different combinations to facilitate the understanding process.

Furthermore, they allow collecting, managing, and analyzing information related to the conditions of resources, equipment performance, required maintenance strategies, and any other element that can help asset managers optimize their work.

The role of GIS data in asset management

The integration of GIS in asset management transforms the way assets are managed, from detecting conditions to identifying risks and planning maintenance, confirming its key role in modernizing and improving management practices.

This technology allows integrating descriptive data – such as age, condition, size, and materials – for each element of the system, offering a 360-degree view of managed assets and facilitating detailed mapping of the entire infrastructure.

Here is the role of GIS in Asset Management:

  • enhances asset management by providing a common understanding of asset conditions, deterioration models, and associated risks;
  • helps understand the factors influencing asset performance;
  • proactively identifies assets in need of repairs, improving preventive maintenance;
  • enables prioritizing asset rehabilitation based on key economic and environmental factors.

Using GIS to identify and manage risks allows for a more effective real-time response and facilitates scheduling targeted interventions. This approach not only improves operational efficiency but also supports strategic management decisions, such as selecting equipment suppliers.

In summary, GIS data plays a fundamental role in asset management, transforming management from a reactive to a proactive process, based on precise analysis and strategic planning, contributing to a more sustainable and economically advantageous long-term asset management.

Through the use of specific extensions such as Esri’s ArcGIS integrated with BIM management software like usBIM and an asset management software like usBIM.facility, the GIS asset management software usBIM.geotwin is born. This integration enables effective maintenance planning, work order processing, and service request management.

GIS Asset Management: software usBIM.geotwin

GIS Asset Management: software usBIM.geotwin

What are the benefits of GIS in Asset Management

For many years, companies and organizations in every sector have wasted time and money due to inappropriate resource allocation and poor management, which have contributed to slowing productivity.

The main benefits of using Geographic Information Systems in Asset Management are as follows:

  • simplify asset location processes;
  • improve field operation efficiency;
  • store and manage data more effectively;
  • reduce the time and costs required for resource management and maintenance;
  • obtain a visual representation of data that helps improve understanding;
  • integrate heterogeneous data into a single map and derive models, interactions, and trends;
  • significantly reduce risk;
  • improve communication;
  • obtain a quick response to emergencies;
  • lay the groundwork for an information-centric informed decision-making process.

GIS can collect a large amount of data, which could potentially cause storage and management issues without a solid data management strategy. However, thanks to a GIS asset management software, it is possible to easily manage a large amount of data without any storage and management problems.

5 ways to use GIS in Asset Management

GIS systems offer powerful analytical and visualization capabilities that make them essential for numerous applications in the Asset Management sector. They can be used, in particular, to:

  1. map asset location: GIS systems have the ability to associate specific references with any element that identify its location. They allow for geolocating real estate and assets of various kinds (such as plants, equipment, transportation vehicles, workstations, IT equipment, etc.) and tracking the movements of each resource in real time;
  2. manage maintenance activities: in addition to easily locating any type of equipment, with the help of GIS maps it is possible to identify resources in need of repairs and maintenance. By integrating specific GIS data, it is also possible to trace the root cause of the problem;
  3. monitor asset performance: thanks to the ability to record and display any type of information, GIS represents an essential tool for tracking and monitoring the performance and operating conditions of each equipment;
  4. track work orders: with a proper GIS infrastructure, asset managers can keep track of all updates related to work orders, as well as visualize and monitor the performance of technicians and operators and identify potential areas for improvement;
  5. manage inventory: information on the location of elements provided by GIS systems can be used to improve inventory strategies and organize warehouse space more efficiently.
GIS asset management uses

GIS asset management uses

To fully exploit the potential of GIS Asset Management, it is necessary to use systems that allow you to automatically record, update, and visualize all data related to the location of your assets. Therefore, you can rely on a Facility Management software capable of working in a BIM environment.

By using this tool, you can efficiently locate real estate, facilities, and equipment, and track data related to the management and maintenance activities of your assets directly on 2D floor plans or 3D BIM models.

Which assets are managed with GIS Asset Management?

By combining a large amount of information that enables organizations to make more effective decisions, reduce costs, and maintain assets, GIS asset management can be applied to a wide range of sectors, from utilities to transportation.

The main areas of application of GIS asset management are:

  • infrastructure: by collecting comprehensive information on each asset, including location, proximity, adjacency, and history, maximizing asset lifespan and performance while reducing lifecycle costs, combining mapping and spatial analysis for strategic data organization;
  • machinery and equipment: for real-time traceability, detailed capability, field service improvement, this tool helps map the locations of machinery or other resources, facilitating field services, maintenance, and utility operations;
  • buildings: the physical dimensions and usability of buildings make them an ideal asset in the vast landscape of geospatial asset management (distinctive architectural features make each building a unique identifier on the map, buildings host various equipment, machinery, and IT hardware, providing detailed data for asset management, etc.);
  • public service lines: public service lines include everything from water, gas, and electricity utilities to sewer and drainage lines and represent a field where the use of GIS Asset Management can have broad application;
  • transportation: these assets are almost always associated with a specific location, perfect for mapping and tracking, transportation assets often span vast geographic areas, benefiting from a geospatial overview;
  • construction projects: in construction projects, the use of GIS in resource management optimizes new construction plans, aids in detailed planning and design of complex structures like multi-story buildings and workshops, and provides real-time management of construction inspections;
  • construction sites: BIM-GIS integration allows for the creation of real-time interactive maps of the construction site, showing the location of different work teams, equipment, and materials.

Integration of GIS in Asset Management

Implementing a GIS in Asset management is a rather complex and responsible task that requires a systematic approach to ensure that the technology can effectively support asset management needs.

Here are some critical steps to ensure proper implementation:

  • defining objectives: first and foremost, it is necessary to determine the management system’s objectives and the volume of assets to be managed;
  • data collection and integration: subsequently, data on assets must be collected and identified;
  • setting appropriate standards: documenting data standards to ensure consistency is necessary;
  • data transformation: at this point, asset data can be converted into GIS format and georeferenced;
  • creating a database project: different types of tables must be created to store asset information;
  • creating GIS visualization: ensuring that the created maps are suitable for effective asset management;
  • performing spatial analysis: spatial analysis tools can be used to assess asset status;
  • data quality control and verification: to ensure reliability, asset data must be regularly checked and errors corrected;
  • considering regulatory requirements: ensuring that the system meets standards and requirements is essential;
  • choosing the best GIS asset management software: requirements such as ease of use, scalability, and the ability to integrate and manage large amounts of data must be considered.

How to effectively implement GIS Asset Management?

To effectively and seamlessly manage the application of GIS for asset management, a solution for integrating GIS data with openBIM IFC models can be helpful, allowing you to access numerous pieces of information directly from the GIS view, including geometric data, design information, asset management data, Facilities Management, IoT (Internet of Things).

This solution allows you to:

  • easily locate assets: you can immediately make all changes and updates made to each digital model available on the GIS;
  • simplify maintenance activities: through GIS, you can detail maintenance interventions to be carried out on each model, the properties of each asset, active maintenance tickets, activities performed on each object;
  • inform users about potential hazards: by opening the GIS, all users have real-time alerts on dangerous territorial situations;
  • improve collaboration and activity coordination: the use of openBIM open formats ensures continuous access to data, information sharing, and perfect coordination of activities for all stakeholders involved.

Additionally, the building and its maintenance data can be experienced in immersive or augmented virtual reality to provide cloud-based guidance on activities to be performed, before or during the intervention.

GIS asset management connection with VR: usBIM.geotwin software

GIS asset management connection with VR: usBIM.geotwin software