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Role and uses of GIS in smart cities

GIS has a clear role to play at every stage of the city life cycle. Find out what are the uses of GIS in Smart Cities and what role it plays in the management phase

Smart Cities are urban spaces that apply Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to optimize and improve infrastructure and services to citizens making them more efficient and sustainable.

For an efficient implementation of a Smart City Project, however, it is necessary to develop a digital system capable of managing and visualizing geospatial data in a user-friendly environment. The solution to this need lies in the implementation of the Geographic Information System (GIS) that offers advanced and user-friendly features for smart city projects.

GIS plays a primary role in the different phases of a city’s life cycle, including maintenance, where the use of GIS technology and facility management software allow a smarter management of the urban facility. Let’s explore together the role and uses of GIS in smart IOT cities.

Can GIS be used for city planning?

Not only the answer to this question is affirmative but we can also say that, when undertaking the design of a city, the determining factor for the success of such a complex project is precisely a BIM collaboration software that allows the integration, coordination and synergistic operation of the different participants in the smart city ecosystem.

A centralized information system based on GIS – acronym for Geographical Information System – integrates not only all stakeholders, but also all aspects of smart city processes – from conceptualization, planning and development to maintenance.

GIS for Smart Cities

GIS for Smart Cities

Below we see how GIS is useful for all phases of a city’s life cycle:

  • acquisition: in this first step, the right sites for the development of the city are intercepted and the legal boundaries are identified;
  • planning and design: at this stage the integration of GIS with design tools, including Building Information Modeling (BIM), offers greater and more powerful design analysis skills and estimation of time and costs;
  • construction: in the construction phase it is possible to integrate the project and financial management software with the GIS in order to provide a single access point to all documents and all executive files;
  • maintenance (maintain): in this last phase it is possible to enhance the maintenance activity by integrating the technical information of the geolocalized digital model, with maintenance information and deadlines.

Examples of GIS  application in smart cities

To be sure to achieve an efficient, serious and forward-looking Smart City Project, you cannot ignore the use of GIS and integrated design, requirements that we know can be found in the BIM methodology. The integrated use of GIS and BIM enables you to address all phases of an urban asset’s lifecycle, from planning to maintenance, effectively and saving time and cost.

The integrated uses of GIS and BIM are linked to the design requirements of the urban asset and the components of the municipal heritage to be managed subsequently, these uses will therefore be:

Building the digital model:
the first step consists in the realization of the digital model of the city in which the various urban components are described. The combination of GIS and BIM provides a powerful tool for building the urban digital model with georeferenced data and visualizing this data in a user-friendly environment. To take full advantage of the benefits of BIM-GIS integration in smart city design, I recommend using BIM-GIS software for free.

Cataloguing of all urban assets:
thanks to specific municipal asset management software it is possible to identify and catalogue urban assets and it is clear how this will greatly simplify the management and maintenance phase.

Computerization of urban facilities:
the integration between GIS and BIM makes it possible to geolocate assets, including all urban facilities, and enrich the digital model with information content necessary to manage the next management phase.

Geolocation of maintenance activities and places of intervention:
thanks to the use of GIS technology, it is possible to directly identify the networks of urban facilities on the maps and access the information content that concerns them, including the geolocation of the maintenance program.

The role of GIS in smart city management

Integrating GIS in the management of smart cities allows you to undertake “smart” initiatives that promote sustainability, optimization and saving of resources.

Let’s see in detail in which aspects of Smart City Management GIS makes its valuable contribution:

Energy management:
that of energy management is an ever-present theme and under the watchful eye of all designers. Clearly when the energy issue takes on a scale as large as that of a city, looking for a smart management has an importance not to be underestimated. Intelligent energy management within an urban system contributes to the reduction of light pollution and up to 30% savings on energy costs.

Water resources management:
water use is, especially today with the pressing threat of climate change, an aspect to be addressed in the most responsible and smart way possible. Studies have shown that about 16% of drinking water is wasted each year due to network failures. A “GIS based” management would certainly help to reduce this percentage.

Management of the transport system (Mobility management):
another urban service on which the GIS can intervene is that of urban mobility, both private and public. Mobility management based on the use of GIS technology would turn the city transport system into an efficient, safe and above all sustainable service.

Municipal waste management (Waste management):
let us not forget the collection, transport and management of municipal solid waste, in a scenario in which, with the increase in population and its economic development, the amount of waste generated also increases and in which their sustainable management becomes increasingly important.

Creating Maintenance Plans (Management Plans):
thanks to the integration of GIS and BIM methodology, it is possible to create automatic maintenance plans, both ordinary and extraordinary, and record and manage service and maintenance requests.