BIMIt is a fairly common sight to see a BIM architecture which places GIS outside the Common Data Environment (CDE). Is this correct? Well, I think it depends on what you mean by GIS. I want to reflect on this question more in later blogs. But for the purpose of this blog, let us focus on GIS and BIM.

A CDE for a BIM project (or even an organizational CDE) should, of course, contain all the data required by the business to perform their function – whether that is to build a new asset as part of a project, or to operate that asset as part of its’ operational lifecycle. GIS has a role to play in both the planning/project phase of an asset, and also in the operational phase.

But when placing GIS outside a CDE, do we just mean the front-end tool (ESRI ArcGIS for example) or all the required data to perform GIS functions? Below is simplistic architecture diagram which imitates a number of similar “real” diagrams I’ve seen recently.

BIM GIS diagram 1


To me, the issue here is that there may be critical (spatial) data outside the CDE. That is, unless we can articulate clearly that by GIS we just mean a front end tool, not the spatial data. There is also no mention of CAD – as if CAD is implicit in the inclusion of Data Models. Do GIS users risk alienating themselves from the core business architecture if they promote siloing of GIS data, rather than integration. Again, I will revisit this in more detail in a later blog.

It should always be recommended to ensure all your relevant asset-related data is available within the CDE, and then simply enable your tools (DSTs, analytics, CAD, GIS etc) to connect to the CDE in order to extract the data the user requires.

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