CAD, BIM and GIS: Data Interoperability

At the 2018 Geodesign Summit: Chris Andrews, who leads ESRI's 3D Product Management Team, talks about merging BIM and GIS workflows.
At the 2018 Geodesign Summit: Chris Andrews, who leads ESRI's 3D Product Management Team, talks about merging BIM and GIS workflows.

I don't know why we get our phones out and frantically photograph whenever slides of interest pop up during presentations, even though we know they will be online later.  But there we were, clicking away like maniacs when the slides of GIS and BIM interoperability appeared.  ESRI and Autodesk first announced their partnership at Autodesk University in Las Vegas two months before, but it was the first I'd heard of this big news. (Spar3D Article: What the Autodesk & ESRI partnership means for BIM, GIS)

Here's that slide.

This was the answer to a question I began to ask some of the world's most prominent architects and engineers in 2012, while conducting video interviews for the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).  At the 2013 London conference, one of my interviewees responded by inviting me to his office on the Thames, just down the block from the Tower Bridge. He introduced me to people doing BIM work on the under-construction Leadenhall Building (aka the "cheese grater"). I was fascinated, but I couldn't see any connectivity with GIS.  I expect there was little if any back then.

So here was my question:  You are plugging a big building into a city landscape like a component on a circuit board. What kind of analysis can GIS provide that BIM does not?  The short answer is that BIM is about the building itself while GIS is about how the building interacts with the built environment and its systems. GIS provides the holistic (I hate using that word) analysis that BIM cannot.

So now the question is how do I get BIM files (done in Autodesk Revit) into ArcGIS and CityEngine? Since I often work on highway and bridge projects, how about AutoCAD (.dwg) and Bentley MicroStation (.dgn) files, too?

This is the beginning of that search.

The first thing we need to do is install the Data Interoperability extension on ArcGIS.  Check ArcGIS Administrator on your computer to see if it is; if not, look for the extension on your installation media or through your online account and My Esri > My Organizations > Products (below).  If you're using the ArcGIS Pro Single Installation, you may need contact ESRI Customer Care for an authorization file.

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