Integrating geographic information systems and augmented reality for mapping underground utilities

Amr Fenais, Samuel T. Ariaratnam, Steven K. Ayer, Nikolas Smilovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Underground infrastructure is a critical component of the basic utility services provided to society. The single largest threat to the safety of underground utility lines is being struck by construction earthwork projects. One of the causes of this problem is miscommunication between utility owners and contractors. Therefore, it is vitally important to coordinate resources, share information, and ensure efficient communication between construction personnel and utility owners. Geographic information systems (GIS) provide a solution for interoperability in the construction industry. Applying such technologies in the field of underground construction requires accurate and up-to-date information. Augmented reality (AR) has been identified as a technique that could enhance information extraction from the virtual world to the real world and improve the access and utilization of information. However, there is currently limited research that has integrated AR and GIS and evaluated the effectiveness and usability of the combination in this domain. The main objective of this research was to develop an integrated AR-GIS for mapping and capturing underground utilities using a mobile device. The data are shared instantaneously with other stakeholders through a cloud-based system. In order to achieve these objectives, a design research approach was utilized to develop and evaluate a mobile extended-reality (XR-GIS) application. Validation of the XR-GIS was conducted through a focus group discussion and a questionnaire. The results revealed that 86% of the participants validated the system's adaptivity to the underground construction. We can conclusively say that this research has produced an efficient solution for data collection and sharing among stakeholders in the underground construction industry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number60
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 24 2019


  • Augmented reality
  • Cloud-based solutions
  • Design science
  • Geographic information systems (GIS)
  • Global positioning system (GPS)
  • Keyhole markup language (KML)
  • Mobile computing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Computer Science Applications


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