BE Conference 2007 -- Geospatial and Applied Research

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Industry News
BE Conference 2007 – Geospatial and Applied Research
by Susan Smith

Current Applied Research project: To prototype a general framework for geolocating remote sensing devices and providing capabilities for managing and accessing those devices using ProjectWise

Bentley’s BE Conference 2007 held in Los Angeles in May attracted over 2,000 attendees. Some new venues were held, one being the BE Executive Symposium, a panel moderated by SparPoint’s Bruce Jenkins. The four diverse presentations of the symposium were presented by Buddy Cleveland, senior vice president, Bentley Software, who spoke on the newly formed Applied Research Group at Bentley and the direction it is taking; Doug Eberhard, CIO of Parsons Brinckerhoff, who presented their approach to dealing with some issues facing infrastructure professionals with sustaining both physical and professional infrastructure; Sarah Slaughter, a doctor and profession at the MIT Sloan School, who talked about how research can work with industry to explore and test theory that industry doesn’t have time to do. Jim Amerault, retired vice admiral with three stars, spoke about his work for MELE Associates as COO, planning for smooth and coordinated response to natural disasters.

Bell South has been combining GIS and GPS technologies to be able to sustain their COMS infrastructure. After a major hurricane, there are many services to get back up and running as soon as possible. In many cases is people send a surveyor out to the site, looks at the site, the site perhaps wasn’t recognizable as the same place he visited the last time he was there, and he perhaps doesn’t have the information to tell him specifically what should be there. This can make it difficult for him to know which types of people and what kind of supplies need to be sent out there to fix it. Bell South has all their assets catalogued and located inside a geospatially managed database. They drive down the road with their GPS and their GPS communicates with the GIS database. MELE Associates is exploring ways for the Navy to catalogue all their landbased assets.

Applied Research Group

Buddy Cleveland presented a talk on the new Applied Research Group at Bentley. Bentley has always invested in research, so what is new about this group? Cleveland said that their past research has been very much product focused, which makes it subject to product delivery deadlines and schedules. Without an exclusive focus, said Cleveland, it’s nearly impossible for the company to distinguish research from product development, difficult to gauge the magnitude of our research investments on the one hand, much less the return on these investments on the other.

The Applied Research Group, from a business point of view, is intended to help Bentley increase the visibility of its investments to make sure they are aligned with their business objectives and the customers’ business objectives.

Bentley’s mission is to look “beyond the next release of software, and to identify white space in solutions, determine where we can bring new technologies to you, in support of improving the world’s infrastructure.”

The mission will be executed on one project at a time, some will involve internally prototyped development, others will be joint projects with other organizations, technology providers or partners.

A project around the concept of Digital Pen & Paper, licensed from Anoto
Examples of types of Applied Research projects:

1) Projects to implement new software that uses new capabilities in existing areas and provide capabilities in new areas. Although it is does not have anything to do with geospatial, Bentley’s GenerativeComponents (GC) is an example of this type of project. GC is “an associative design system, giving designers and engineers new ways to efficiently explore alternative building forms without manually building the detail design model for each scenario,” according to its chief architect and spokesperson, director of Research & Senior Scientist at Bentley, Robert Aish. GC is also Bentley’s first true research project. Aish is now a colleague in Applied Research, and the first version of the software will be released soon.

2) Incorporating new technology into existing Bentley products, example: a project around the concept of Digital Pen & Paper. Licensed from Anoto, this technology incorporates a special pen that accurately captures and stores marks made by that pen, and does it by way of special optics in the pen that can record where that pen is based on a microdot pattern embedded into the paper. This microdot pattern is unique over an extremely large area, roughly the size of Europe and Asia combined. “Our project is focused on validating and prototyping the integration of this technology into our project content management and plotting capabilities,” said Cleveland. “If successful, this will enable users to use their standard paper plots to electronically record and manage their comments and as built information as if they had been done on computer with an application like Bentley Redline.”

Update on where Bentley is with the project to date: the idea is to open ProjectWise plot organizer, sign into ProjectWise, open plot set of project drawings, pick some plots to send, user will just say I want to enable Digital Paper. Once plots are generated user can use pen and pick up the paper and start writing with the pen. They don’t have to tell it which drawing they’re writing on, they can go to next sheet, they don’t have to tell it they’re going to another sheet. The paper itself looks a little gray with microdots. Once it’s done, the user can upload the pen marks into ProjectWise using Bluetooth, once loaded, log into ProjectWise, ProjectWise knows automatically, and has related the microdot pattern to the actual version, and the plot number is plotted, so when it opens the pen marks it knows what file was being marked up and creates a Bentley Redline file. The user can check the redline file and make any comments. Then the user can check that into ProjectWise. Mark Smith is the principal researcher on this project.

This may be useful to those in engineering who need to access geospatial data at some point in time.

3) Application of existing products in totally new areas. Current project: To prototype a general framework for geolocating remote sensing devices and providing capabilities for managing and accessing those devices using ProjectWise, alongside all the other content that ProjectWise manages. The devices could range from remote video, environmental sensors of all types. “The objective of this project is to bring together real time information from diverse types of sensors and understand how they fit within the context of the infrastructure asset, not just physically where they are, but in the context of design data, analysis data, documentation , software applications and emergency procedures,” said Cleveland.

The example of the floor plan of building 1 of the Exton campus was given, including icons for security cameras which are registered in ProjectWise and are geolocated on the floor plan. If the user would like to open that camera using the interface, he/she can use the mouse and drag the camera around to look around the room.

“We’ve implemented this prototype within the standard project XM with the geospatial extension version of ProjectWise, and we’re now in the process of extending this prototype to encompass a much broader range of devices,” Cleveland said. “Simply by registering and locating real time devices within ProjectWise, we can extend the scope of the content managed by ProjectWise to include the real time conditions of an infrastructure asset and really transform it into a real time asset.”

As we’ve mentioned before, GIS infrastructure is Bentley’s strategic mantra which basically states that the company will focus on the intersection between GIS technology and infrastructure engineering capabilities. This prototype may offer a unique approach to geolocation and the management of remote sensing assets in and around infrastructure.

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