April 11, 2011
GIS News from Autodesk AEC Day 2011
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on GIScafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each GIS Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the GIS industry, GIS product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by GISCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Welcome to GISWeekly! From March 29-April 7, I will be traveling to two conferences, one of them will be the Autodesk 2011 Media Day Event. Keep a lookout for blog entries during the next couple of weeks.

GISWeekly examines select top news, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Top of the News, Acquisitions/Agreements/Alliances, Announcements, New Products, Around the Web and Events Calendar.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me at 

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

GIS News from Autodesk AEC Media Day 2011

By Susan Smith


Autodesk Galileo – Boston Photo credit: VTN Consulting

At Autodesk’s AEC Media Day 2011 held in Waltham, Mass., the opening discussion revolved around the various Design Suites which now the method by which Autodesk is delivering its products. According to Jay Bhatt, senior vice president, AEC Solutions, suites are a simplified way for customers to absorb their technologies.

With that said, the area of interest for geospatial users (even though the term “geospatial” is not used at Autodesk), is the area of infrastructure.

Paul McRoberts, vice president Infrastructure PLG, talked about the fact that Autodesk has really invested in the recession: “we have a $41 trillion need for infrastructure and have a $21 deficit,” he said.

What was at first a little disconcerting was that he began his discussion with a look at building information modeling (BIM), which is not a technology that GIS folks are really familiar with. The reason for this soon became clear: the bigger picture looks at the ultimate design of 3D cities, an area which is very dependent upon GIS data and analysis, but also will require the input from the architectural community, namely 3D models of buildings that will populate the newly designed city. Thus, the Infrastructure Design Suite currently includes the products Map3D, Civil3D, Navisworks, Simulate, and AutoCAD.


Autodesk Galileo Photo credit: VTN Consulting

The big news is Project Galileo, known as the product LandXplorer in its previous incarnation, still in Autodesk Labs (a laboratory setting that users can check out if try out if they want to), and the integration of Map 3D and Topobase.

How Products are Arranged

These are the advantages Autodesk feels their customers will gain from the suite, which have been divided into Plant, Building and Infrastructure:

•        Reduced cost

•        Improving compatibility

•        Ability to update (e.g. patches and service packs) apps all at once

•        Streamlines license management

What customers need in their products:

•        Flexibility to innovate

•        Economical and convenient

•        Comprehensive and sophisticated

The product suites are to to be sold in these packages:

Standard – AutoCAD based design and documentation

Premium – BIM for Building, BIM for Infrastructure added to the Standard package

Ultimate – simulation and analysis added to the Premium package

Autodesk Map Server, Map 3D

Infrastructure Planning 2012

Infrastructure planning is a process that precedes the detailed engineering design phase of a project and looks at the overall scope, feasibility and alternatives at an appropriate level of detail and scale to help make well informed decisions.

What is needed for infrastructure planning is data access, analysis and industry models, said McRoberts.

The mapping product for Autodesk has been Map 3D, which is able to access data from many different sources and is built on all different types of coordinate systems. It has 3,000 types of analysis that it can run such as traffic design flow analysis, storm and sewer analysis, and many others. Map 3D 2012 can use more data formats and includes access to the ArcGIS format, also surface contours, hydrology, parcels, roads, buildings, satellite imagery, drawings, design documentation, databases and spreadsheets. Industry models can be created and include GIS environments that have been modeled based on industry criteria.

The integration of the Map3D and Topobase environments gives coordinates xyz, GIS data, location and layers, relationships, time, and the past, present and future of Topobase. These capabilities are generally separate in a traditional GIS, but this integration leverages GIS data and provides what is thought by the company to be a better management environment.

AutoCAD Map3D
  • Querying
  • Spatial analysis
  • Cartographic styles
  • Data access

  • Topobase
  • Data models
  • Connectivity
  • Business rules
  • Forms & administration
  • DWG - ease of use & portability

  • “Map3D was based on the idea of a single coordinate where you layer in information,” said McRoberts. With Topobase no longer dependent on the Oracle database, Map3D as the product will continue to be called, will be able to have a data model, rules and relationship management. Also, it opens up possibilities to people who want to do GIS and community planning at the town or rural level and for smaller organizations. Topobase also adds the factor of time associated with rules.

    Again, because AutoCAD is Autodesk’s most successful customer base, the product is designed to be familiar to AutoCAD users but enable those users to use GIS data.

    Infrastructure Design

    Project Galileo, currently a technical preview on Autodesk Labs, embodies the best pieces of Autodesk LandXplorer augmented with Autodesk’s graphics capability, which is common to most of their products. Galileo is built on Feature Data Objects (FDO) technology and provides a type of sketching capability as well, allowing planners and organizations to be able to sketch out the type of environment they envision.

    “With Galileo, I want to be able to capture GIS information, model that city out in a short amount of time, say, 40 minutes to create a vision of city of Boston, then sketch in data – roads, highways, bridges,” said McRoberts. “This goes into the GIS database and I can then move this data through the design phase. This provides an information flow and information transfer for being able to plan.”

    The types of data that Galileo can bring in include 3D building information models i.e. Autodesk Revit models, that know exactly what they are. The technology allows city planners and others to do conceptual planning and look at the cost, environmental impact, tax zones, and other relevant data in a visual way.

    Arnab Ganguly, technical marketing manager, talked about “Conceptual Design for Infrastructure – Project Galileo,” outlining an electricity utility design technology they are working on that employs the rules engine that is in Topobase.

    In addition, using a lot of data that has already been captured in GIS, users will be able to do context model creation and configure what they want to, including adding BIM models where needed. This type of model creation can be very useful for providing a rich visual experience for public approval processes and other public venues.

    Laura Gutwillig, senior manager of the Building Business Line, spoke on the topic of cloud computing. The possibilities she outlined applied to the design process and renderings. As geospatial employs more visualization that is CPU-intensive, users will be looking for cloud computing offerings to free up computer power and boost productivity.

    Primary targets

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    -- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.

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