GIS: Geographic Information Systems and Its Vital Role in Civil Engineering

A geographic information system, or GIS, is a system that organizes, analyzes, and maps location-based data in separate layers, allowing the data to be viewed in a geographical context with various other information. GIS data comes from a limitless variety of primary and secondary sources including GPS, land surveys, lidar, digitized maps, worksheets, and historical records, just to name a few, and can be used to inform strategic decisions in virtually any industry or sector. GIS is essentially a living digital document, and collected data can be added, tracked, and updated indefinitely and as needed.

GIS is an absolutely vital tool in civil engineering and its uses and benefits are almost countless. For example, when it comes to site planning and development, geographic data overlayed with various images and other information enable civil engineers and their clients to visualize a project more clearly and allow for a better design. Examining hydraulic and hydrologic modeling in combination with other aggregated data like terrain analyses and flood maps is invaluable for the planning, improvement, and maintenance of stormwater management systems. Surveyors can use GIS to quickly and easily identify environmentally-sensitive areas and garner information about zoning, boundaries, permit status, and other critical aspects of a project.

Finelli Consulting Engineers not only employs GIS in our day-to-day civil engineering activities, but we also implement and maintain GIS systems for municipalities and other clients. In fact, our founder and president Michael Finelli was instrumental in developing the first GIS system for an individual municipality in Warren County, New Jersey. FCE also provides GIS data analysis and can assist clients with any other GIS needs. For more information, please contact us at (908) 835-9500 or

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