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The "Craft" May be Design...
But the "Business" is Data Management

By Mathew C. "Quint" Redmond, The TSR Group

Design collaboration over the Internet...screen shot of Riverfront web site. The mission of a truly integrated digital design practice is to create and manage digital data so that it can be stored, analyzed and distributed electronically to colleagues and clients without losing its innate electronic value.

Today's landscape architects have an unprecedented opportunity to integrate digital and spatial technologies in the practice of their disciplines. While some digital technologies, software packages and concepts related to the design fields have existed for more than 25 years, we are still in the early stages of adoption and integration of these tools into the design professions.

The industry has the digital tools/technologies for design (GIS, GPS, relational databases, visualization, the Internet), but the "rules of the road" have not yet been established to standardize the way we work with them. For five years, the TSR Group has been forging a path in this arena and proposes an integrated solution for landscape architects in land development, analysis, planning and design.

Keystone example

4:35 PM Monday:

Call from client

7:00 AM Tuesday:
Delineate and GPS North-side wetland boundary

9:00 AM Tuesday:
Finished in the field

3:00 PM Tuesday:
Process files, post to the Internet

4:25 PM Tuesday:
Call to have discussion of impacts with client

We are not simply talking about CAD files or software brands, but rather the role digital technologies will play in the design work flow (in the public and private sectors) in the foreseeable future, and how to use these tools for profit and to make the planet a better place.

The "digital practice" concept is not just about creating drawings, but how to develop, manage, distribute and analyze data to help you operate more efficiently and profitably.

A truly integrated digital design practice is not based on the concept of "drawings," but rather on "database" technology. A digitally integrated process is based on a "data-centric" approach. Each project comprises three different components of data management: data collection, data analysis, data distribution. All activities undertaken during any project by any person can be classified into one of these three categories. Firms need to be organized (HR, billing, management) around these themes to survive.

The Land Development Problem

Currently, there are significant inefficiencies inherent in the land development process. These in turn add to the development cost and affect the return on investment.

  • Each step of the process is typically performed by a different organization that controls the data they own.
  • The data collected by these organizations on the same piece of land is in many different formats - textual, numeric, drawings, plans, etc.
  • Life cycle constituents are dependent on paper for distribution and communication.
  • No single repository or library exists for project spatial data.
  • No uniform standards exist for collecting and distributing geographic project data.

Three areas where ROI can be enhanced:

To enhance your return on investment (ROI) for design:
Review your due diligence process to increase speed and accuracy.
Reduce costs by:

  • Optimizing consultant roles
  • Improving communications
  • Optimizing reprographic work
  • Reducing rework
  • Lowering travel requirements
  • Collecting data only once
  • Reducing transportation costs (couriers, FedEx, etc.)
Speed up the development process to:
  • Reduce time lags throughout the process
  • Speed up collaborative planning
  • Spend more time on proper planning
  • Spend more time on alternatives and refinements
Speed up regulatory and public approvals by:
  • Enhanced public agency support
  • Integration with existing GIS data
  • Visual presentation of plan and potential impacts
Enhance productivity with a uniform data environment.
Better Sales and Marketing Tools increase efficiency because:
  • Earlier deployment of website utilizes actual data
  • Integration of map and video helps prospects visualize
  • Resale value of land goes up and lifecycle costs are lowered by implementing a "living" plan
To enhance the ROI for construction process:
Make constructability (political and physical) an initial consideration
Make cost and schedule considerations inherent in the design process.
If designs are more evolved:
  • Change orders are reduced
  • Construction schedules are tightened
  • Costs are lowered
If changes can be rapidly accommodated:
  • Crews and equipment continue to work
To enhance the ROI for facilities management:
Collect accurate and consolidated data:
  • "After the fact" data collection is less expensive, especially for underground features
Create a valuable inventory of physical assets which includes:
  • Description, installation date, etc.
  • Warranty tracking for all infrastructure, i.e.
  • Trees and landscaping
  • Sprinkler/irrigation system
  • Utilities
Map based maintenance dispatching can then:
  • Save time and money
Property then has greater resale value based on unified database.

In the foreseeable future GIS will provide the reference structure (as a digital library of sorts) for all design project data. It will do this by a combination of CAD integration and document management.

Matthew C. "Quint" Redmond is the founder and CEO of the TSR Group, which was established in 1997 in Denver, Colorado. He is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Planning at the University of
Colorado, Denver.

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December 7, 2019, 3:51 am PDT

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