Marc Goldman – Esri
- Written by: Fatima Taha
- Produced by: Andrew Wright & Cherie Scott
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
In the world of architecture, engineering and construction, working from home typically isn’t feasible. No one can lay bricks or properly evaluate a metal and concrete foundation from their sofa. Yet, as the adage goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.”
For Marc Goldman and the AEC industry, that necessity came in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. Construction workers, architects and engineers still needed to be at project sites, but Goldman found they didn’t all need to be there at same time—and technology could help.
The director of architecture, engineering and construction of industry solutions for Esri began looking for immediate digital solutions. This included promoting the company’s geographic information systems desktop, mobile and cloud-based solutions.
“Integrating context with the real world is what has set Esri apart in the market for nearly half a century,” Goldman says. “The pandemic just acted as an accelerator for digital transformations and upgrades we and the industry already had in mind.”
Esri is a location-based intelligence platform provider and software developer with a wide range of clients, many of whom are planning, designing, building and operating infrastructure projects around the world.
“Esri is the perfect fit for me—my 30-year career has thrived at the intersection of built world projects and technology,” Goldman says. “I’m always looking to provide a solution with context. That’s exactly what Esri does.”
The science of where
When Esri’s CEO Jack Dangermond left Harvard School of Design with expertise in landscape architecture and environmental interests, he moved with his wife back to their hometown of Redlands, California. Using technology, he began providing consulting services to companies and government agencies that could benefit from location data and the related analytics.
Recognizing the growing importance of location data in the world of infrastructure design, construction and operations, Esri’s leadership team wanted to expand its services to the world of architecture, engineering and construction. So, in 2019 Goldman joined Esri’s recently formed AEC team—and made sure to utilize the company’s geographic information system, ArcGIS.
The geographic information system, or GIS, ensures the extended team of project participants are better informed on status, quality and progress, without putting more people on a client’s site than necessary—an essential point as new COVID variants and strains continue to develop. It also helps companies achieve their environmental goals and save time by allowing them to better understand the history and current state of a location before working on it or without requiring them to travel to show up onsite.
As Goldman explains, GIS gathers layers of geographic data and analyzes it to provide location information. ArcGIS-based maps and apps for a California project may have the following layers: green spaces, railways, census data, waste disposal sites, flood data, transportation patterns and a wildfire map. Conversely, sites in Alaska may have information about oil fields, animal migration, weather conditions and glacier run-off.
“Using ArcGIS means that clients can make an informed decision about how much time, money and other resources they want to put into restoring a site for long-term sustainability or building a new one—or simply choosing a new location altogether,” he says.
Locating an unexpected partnership
To further develop Esri’s GIS, the company took an unexpected step by partnering with a long-time competitor: Autodesk, a software company that makes products for the AEC industry and others.
According to Goldman, when Dangermond showed up at the Autodesk University conference in 2017 to announce the partnership, many people in the industry were surprised by his presence and the announcement.
Since then, the two companies have developed a number of integrations and capabilities, most notably a product jointly promoted called ArcGIS GeoBIM ,which connects both companies’ cloud-based offerings.
Released in October 2021, ArcGIS GeoBIM allows users to access data from Esri ArcGIS Online and access the CAD, BIM, other files and data that are stored on the Autodesk Construction Cloud. Before, users would have to look at information in two separate systems to get the data they may have needed to make a decision.
“We’re collaborating in ways serving our shared end-users; both companies are excited about what we’ll create together in the future for each other and our clients,” Goldman says.
Navigating with optimism and determination
Goldman explains that the use of ArcGIS in the AEC industry is growing rapidly, as is the value of location data. However, he explains that many companies and organizations have been using that very software—and its predecessors—for decades. One of those clients is the White House.
Goldman says virtually every branch of state, local and federal government agencies, and all 12 cabinet offices of the president use many of Esri’s technology.
“It just gives you a moment of awe and deep sense of accomplishment to realize that our tools help deliver information that, in turn, helps our society address some of the biggest climate change and environmental issues the world is currently facing,” he says.
Esri developed maps that condense and present climate change information in an easily digestible format, which the company also shared with the current administration. Esri’s work is an enhancement of previous efforts, as earlier teams made similar maps throughout the years to assist those in the government and the private sector to easily and quickly understand issues like climate change at a zip code level.
“We’re making information easy to access and understand, so that anyone with a web browser can comprehend the world around them at a granular level,” he says. “We’re hoping this leads to potentially significant changes in the near future, as we all work to protect our planet and the environment.”
Of course, Goldman is no stranger to sharing information. In addition to his decades of work in the AEC field, he’s currently the vice chair of the Digital Twin Subcommittee for the National Institute of Building Science. He’s also active with building SMART International working groups, and has volunteered at STEM School Highlands Ranch, where he served on the board of directors from 2012 to 2014. He supports students exploring 3D visualization technology and mentoring them to produce augmented reality solutions.
“It may sound simple or obvious, but technology can truly help us change the world, and that’s what I get to help Esri do for its clients every single day,” Goldman says.
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. IV 2023 Edition here.
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