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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

GISCafe Year In Review 2019

December 19th, 2019 by Susan Smith

The year in review is defined in large part by what drives the technology sector. Natural phenomenon such as fires and floods, earthquakes and hurricanes require continual vigilance to be able to record, predict, respond to and recover from. The effort of Digital Cities is an effort to maintain cities in a more efficient manner, with heightened emphasis on people and data.

We cannot look at natural disasters without looking at the escalating effects of climate change. Digital Twins can help in conceptual design and in some cases, address some elements of climate change. Tracking natural disasters gives us valuable information on the location of affected areas, informed by data from a myriad of sources.

Voting data, 911 and emergency response are informed by the U.S. Census and vice versa. The integrations of GIS and AEC become more critical as the importance of integrating location data into AEC and the need for integrating AEC into GIS data become more apparent.

And browsers mining your data?  Privacy protections become more urgent as more data is made available and free.

Climate Change and the Future

Reflect for a minute on the following United Nations projection:

By 2060, the world is projected to add 230 billion m2 (2.5 trillion ft2) of buildings, or an area equal to the entire current global building stock*. This is the equivalent of adding an entire New York City to the planet every 34 days for the next 40 years.

*UN Environment, Global Status Report 2017

In order to achieve the target set by the Paris Agreement ­– to limit the rise in global average temperature to below the 2 degree C threshold – all new construction must be designed to high energy efficiency standards and use no CO2-emitting fossil fuel energy to operate; by 2050 the entire built environment must be carbon neutral.

The following are UN Sustainable Development Goals:

  • Agreed
  • Significant Progress

A Summary for Financial Decision-Makers of the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 º C on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 ºC above pre-industrial levels and related global gas emission pathways. In the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, develop sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty. — New York City, 22 September 2019:

Key messages from the report

  • Already 1ºC of global warming
  • At current rate, would reach 1.5ºC between 2030 and 2052
  • Clear benefits to limiting warming to 1.5ºC
  • We can still limit warming to 1.5ºC but this requires unprecedented changes
  • Waiting for NDCs means missing 1.5ºC
  • Limiting warming to 1.5 ºC would go hand in hand with achieving other societal goals

Global total net C02 emissions -45 C02 in 2030 – net zero CO2 in 2050 Carbon dioxide removal

At 2 ºC warming all warm water corals are gone vs 1—30% left at 1.5 º C

At 2 ºC: in 10 years completely ice-free North Pole.

At 1.5 º C: in 100 years

“Adaptation is easy, it’s just bigger answers to usual questions,” said Keith Clarke, CBE, FREng, FICE, RIBA, Chairman, speaking on the topic, “Forum for the Future,” at the Bentley Year In Infrastructure 2019 thought leadership conference in Singapore in October. “Adaptation without mitigation is immoral; it accelerates inequality. Mitigation = radically reducing CO2E by 2050, trend to net zero by 2050; 1.5 º C by 2030.

Corelogic has been reporting on natural hazards for a number of years now. The U.S. has seen an increase in the number of natural disasters between the years 2016 and 2018. The resulting “underinsurance issues” have kept analytics and data-enabled solutions providers very busy with analyzing the new wave of areas that would be better served by increased natural hazard coverage.

CoreLogic®, a leading global property information, analytics and data-enabled solutions provider, released its newest analysis, the 2019 Insurance Coverage Adequacy Report, which shows increases in reconstruction costs in certain disaster-prone areas range from 5.6 percent to 7.6 percent from 2016 to 2018. According to this report, CoreLogic examines potential underinsurance issues in four regional scenarios of the U.S. with exposure to natural hazards: The Northeast Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions with hurricane-related storm surge risk; California with wildfire risk; and Oklahoma with tornado risk. Read the report

Integrating GIS and AEC

For many years GIS and AEC professionals have sought to integrate their products and there have been partnerships created before between the two industries. Though Vectorworks supports a number of different file formats to import geospatial data, imagery and survey points, the process of importing information has been limited to the files that were available.

Now, with Vectorworks 2020, Architect, Landmark, and Designer users have access to online mapping and aerial images with Esri’s ArcGIS Online.

Access to ArcGIS can be obtained through two new Vectorworks tools: Geoimage and Geolocate. This new Vectorworks functionality performs similarly to other plugins managed by Graebert’s Ares Map and ArcGIS for AutoCAD, utilizing Esri’s application programming interfaces (API).

With proper geographic coordinates and projection in the Vectorworks file, street map imagery and aerial imagery can be immediately placed into the design layer. Depending on the user’s paid ArcGIS online service plan, other mapping imagery can be imported as well. Cropping is an essential part of this feature, since most mapping outputs will depict the street mapping and aerial imagery beyond the project site.

Autodesk and Esri announced a partnership creating tighter integration, AEC ArcGIS collections. According to Autodesk company materials, because engineers and designers can access ArcGIS content in Autodesk applications, they can reduce the time spent finding data, requesting it in a usable format, and importing it. They can also save data to ArcGIS where additional users can access and share information.

ArcGIS streamlines project delivery, from planning to operations. Esri’s partnership with Autodesk enables you to deliver data to the right user, at the right time, with the right tool. Project information can easily follow the design process, seamlessly flowing between applications.

The collections enable teams to improve data visualization, work better together, and gain understanding of project status. These collections are built on Esri’s powerful next generation GIS platform, enabling users to easily turn raw 2D and 3D project datasets into digital and print maps. Esri also showcased their integrated offerings at Autodesk University in Las Vegas this year.

Technology to Watch

Apple launched the Indoor Mapping Data Format program this year. With this program, apps connected with specific venues like shopping malls and stadiums can design custom, interactive maps that help people locate and navigate to indoor points of interest. Indoor maps can include overlays that highlight specific areas, such as rooms, kiosks, and other locations. They can also include text labels, icons, and routes. So far, there are about 50 airports in North America mapped out with this program.

Anyone who has watched the movie “The Great Hack” will recognize that Authentic8 is one of the answers to the world’s current and future technology and social problems.

Thom Kaye, federal program manager, Authentic8, spoke about the secure browsing experience provided by  Authentic8.

Authentic8 was funded by the owner, Scott Petry, the CEO and cofounder of Authentic8 and Founder of Postini, based on the sale of Postini that was the largest acquisition made after YouTube – and ultimately became gmail. Authentic8 was designed to create a secure browsing experience for the user.

“In a nutshell, if you think about how commercial browsers work, they’re treating us not as customers but as their products,” said Kaye. “Commercial browsers use many different tactics to collect information on their users and sell that information to advertisers.  Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer are all free, they do this by targeting advertising. This is our nexus to geography – determine your location and your hyper location. It is not just information such as, this person lives in a state or zip code, if you live in a small town then they can cross reference publicly available information like census data, and they can learn a lot of other things about you provided by the U.S. government.”

Kaye pointed out that these browsers can get down to the level of your town and watch your browsing habits, hence you see advertisements very relevant to your online purchases or searches. It is not just social media that is mining your data, but your browsers as well. Read the story

According to the 2018 Gartner Hype Cycle, Digital Twin is a trend that is now approaching the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” and is estimated to hit the “Plateau of Productivity” within 5 to 10 years. Image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Digital Twins

IDC recently noted that by 2020, 30% of global 2000 companies will be using data from Digital Twins to improve organizational productivity by as much as 25%.

According to the 2018 Gartner Hype Cycle, Digital Twin is a trend that is now approaching the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” and is estimated to hit the “Plateau of Productivity” within 5 to 10 years. Image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

A good description of a digital twin is as follows: “A digital twin is a digital representation of a physical object or system. The technology behind digital twins has expanded to include large items such as buildings, factories and even cities, and some have said people and processes can have digital twins, expanding the concept even further. The idea first arose at NASA: full-scale mockups of early space capsules, used on the ground to mirror and diagnose problems in orbit, eventually gave way to fully digital simulations.” – Network World

In our AECCafe Voice Industry Predictions 2019, digital twins were cited as one of the trends to watch in 2019.

In the UK, the National Infrastructure Commission is exploring creating a digital copy of the country’s entire infrastructure. This would involve linking smaller digital twins of the country’s cities and towns and infrastructure networks. It is hoped that the UK digital twin would help in the preparation for and response to extreme weather events. This would be a collaborative effort involving both private and public sectors in all corners of the country. AECCafe Special Report: Digital Twin Technology Mirrors AEC Reality, Materializes the Intangible

Belgian company Orbit Geospatial Technologies (Orbit GT), specialists in 3D and mobile mapping, was recently acquired by Bentley Systems at the Bentley Year In Infrastructure 2019 thought leadership conference in Singapore.

Road mobility digital twins converge cities’ digital context (including 4D surveying facilitated by Orbit GT for drone-and vehicle-mounted mapping), and digital components (included from Bentley’s OpenRoads engineering applications) with CUBE simulations – to model and assure real-world throughput capacity for proposed and existing roadway assets.

An interview with Peter Bonne, former CEO of OrbitGT and now with Bentley, and Bob Mankowski, vice president, Digital Cities for Bentley, shed some light on the OrbitGT acquisition and how it fits into the big picture for Bentley Systems.

“Initially Bentley approached us to see if we can do something more and that resulted in the acquisition,” said Bonne. “This is fantastic for our team, it’s very promising now with Bob running the new entity, Digital Cities. That’s where we belong rather than construction because we are GIS people. We fit more in the cities idea. The new Digital Cities entity of Bentley Systems feels like a good spot to grow and to spread out our ideas in the organization.”

VISTA 360: the digital transformation of street data in Costa Rica

“From Bentley’s perspective, we were very interested in what they were doing,” said Mankowski.  “Our talks this week were all about Digital Twins and the importance of the digital context. The digital context means understanding. Digital twin is the virtual replica of the physical asset, or process or system, and in order to have that virtual representation, you need to have the geometry and its appearance and everything. That’s digital context. Peter’s company has deep expertise in that, decades of expertise in creating digital context and managing the data associated with digital context, and so that’s what we looked to add to our portfolio, to add to our mapping and surveying expertise from Bentley. We have a deep history of making maps and we have ContextCapture and the reality modeling there, so then we have this data management platform and the tools and capabilities there and more importantly we have Peter and his team. They have all this expertise they’re bringing to the table going forward.” Read the story

An important partnership to watch is the expansion of Airbus Defence and Space’s digital services, Earth Monitor, under the umbrella of their OneAtlas platform. Airbus Defence and Space and Orbital Insight have expanded upon their partnership agreement to create Earth Monitor, a powerful change analysis and insights service which provides situational awareness over archived or newly tasked areas of interest.

“Our core business is to deliver satellite imagery and information derived from the  imagery to our customers,” said Arnaud de Saint Vincent, Analytics Strategy – Digital Services Intelligence Communications, Intelligence, Security of the Defence and Space intelligence branch of Airbus, “We have undertaken, an initiative called OneAtlas that aims to go in the cloud and deliver our data and information services in a much more digital way. Within that initiative, I’m in charge of analytics that is the part responsible for extracting information automatically and digitally in order to deliver insights to our customers.”

This advanced service brings together Airbus’ reactive tasking capabilities and premium archive imagery from the Living Library to offer access to advanced statistical analyses, trends and detection maps. Read the story

Voting Rights and the U.S. Census 2020

What do you do if you don’t have an actual physical street address and you want to vote? You are definitely eligible to vote, except for that one small detail that has become critical in North Dakota under a new statewide voter identification law.

This legislation, which requires that all North Dakota residents have identification including a street address, has become a major issue in North Dakota. Yet these three individuals: Jean Schroedel, professor of policy and Politics at Claremont Graduate University CGU, Thornton Bradshaw Chair in the Department of Politics & Government,(teaching voter rights among other subjects), Brian Hilton, Clinical Full Professor, CGU with research focus on GIS and OJ Semens, Executive Director of Four Directions (advancing equality at the ballot box across Indian Country) have come together to create emergency building addresses on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota.

Their stories, and how they came together, provide a remarkable insight into the challenges faced by Native American populations on reservations in the state, who rarely have building addresses.

Just three weeks before the 2018 election, Claremont Graduate University and Four Directions used Hilton’s Esri GIS maps to build emergency building addresses on the Standing Rock Reservation. With just two weeks until Election Day, Hilton obtained shapefiles of the voting precincts of North Dakota from the Harvard Election Data Archive. He selected the precincts that intersected the Standing Rock, Turtle Mountain and Spirit Lake reservations, then split those precincts into four roughly equal areas. He used ArcMap and ArcGIS Online to access imagery, streets and OpenStreetMap basemaps. Read the story

Dr. Ron S. Jarmin and other spokespeople from the U.S. Census Bureau spoke at the Esri User Conference 2019 Plenary Session about the enormous responsibility of the U.S. Census Bureau to administer the constitutionally mandated count of the U.S. population, a task that is done every ten years since 1790.

“Decennial census is a fundamental part of our democracy,” said Dr. Jarmin. “It determines apportionment of seats in congress allocates nearly $9 billion in federal funding to communities each year.

The important task will start in January 2020, and people will receive letters in the mail inviting them to go online and complete the census. “Our goal is to count every person living in the U.S. in April and count them only once and in the right place, so geography is a central component,” said Dr. Jarmin. “It’s a big job. We’ll be printing 1.5 billion questionnaires, letters and postcards, and hire nearly 400,000 people to knock on doors of those who haven’t responded.”

The April 1, 2020 census count will begin months earlier in Alaska’s Toksook Bay, a rural village on the Bering Sea that can only be reached by dog sled, snow machine or bush plane when the ground is still frozen. Read the story


These are just a few of the topics headlined that will most likely find their way into 2020. Stay tuned for our January 2020 trends and predictions offered by industry experts, offering a global view of what we might expect to see in the New Year!

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Categories: 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), 9-1-1, 9-1-1 GIS systems, aircraft tracking, airports, analytics, Apple, ArcGIS, ArcGIS Earth, ArcGIS Online, ArcPad, asset management, autonomous driving, autonomous vehicles, banking, Bentley Systems, Big Data, citizen science, data, election maps, emergency response, field GIS, geocoding, geospatial, GIS, government, GPS, handhelds, health, image-delivery software, in car navigation, indoor location technology, indoor mapping, insurance, laser radar, laser scanner, lidar, location based sensor fusion, location based services, location intelligence, mapping, mobile, mobile mapping, Open Source, public safety, real estate, reality modeling, remote sensing, resilient cities, satellite imagery, sensors, situational intelligence, spatial data, storm surge, subsurface utilities, survey, telecommunications, transportation, UAVs, underground mapping, utilities, wildfire risk, wireless networks

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