Integration of BIM and GIS for Formal Representation of Walkability for Safe Routes to School Programs

KEY TAKEAWAYS: The authors produced a standardized method for assessing and visualizing walkability in communities for ease in implementing the evaluation and engineering E’s of Safe Routes to School, consequently reducing CO2 emissions and improving student health. 


  • The method that the authors developed to evaluate walking environments for Safe Routes to School within a designated school district can be used to help standardize walkability assessments and allow for multiple community members/participants to gather walkability information at the same time.
  • The method developed was successfully piloted in an elementary school in California and included first generating a map for the walkability audit, conducting a walkability audit of the school district, developing a Building Information Model (BIM) for the audit, visualizing the resulting data using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and then conducting community meetings using the maps to best understand the walking infrastructure.


  • This study recognized that not all walkability audits leading to Safe Routes to School infrastructure improvements are conducted consistently, and the authors developed a specific method for conducting walkability audits that was formed by:
  • 1) noting that the method is one of facility management;
  • 2) reviewing existing designs and models in the construction industry and determining that the Industry Foundation Classes data model tailored to the National Center for Safe Routes to School guide provides the best information about classification of infrastructure required and walking conditions;
  • 3) identifying criteria from the guide to evaluate existing walkability including: existence, width, broken conditions, blocking conditions of the sidewalk, as well as existence of stop signs, traffic signals, push buttons, school zone signs, crosswalk conditions, and the speed limit;
  • 4) defining “Infrastructure for Walking” as two subclasses – sidewalk and cross street;
  • 5) defining the properties for each subclass, including name of street, number of segment, direction, etc.; and
  • 6) defining the values for each subclass property.

Kim, Jung In, Koo, B., Suh, S., and Wonho Suh (2015). Integration of BIM and GIS for Formal Representation of Walkability for Safe Routes to School Programs (2015). Journal of Civil Engineering (2016), 20(5): 1669-1675.

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