Be Inspired Symposium and Awards 2009 Geospatial Report

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Be Inspired Symposium and Awards 2009 Geospatial Report
By Susan Smith

Bentley’s Be Inspired: Infrastructure Best Practices Symposium and Awards held October 12-14 in Charlotte, North Carolina was an invitation only event showcasing the company’s annual Be Inspired Awards.

Greg Bentley, CEO, Bentley Systems
Greg Bentley, CEO, Bentley Systems

The event encompassed a number of product and acquisition announcements, as well as an awards dinner to honor the winners in various categories. Finalists gave presentations on their projects, and executive roundtables were held focusing on the different industry segments. In this report, those announcements and winners that are germane to the geospatial industry will be highlighted.

Bentley’s focus is on infrastructure, which encompasses just about everything in the built environment: buildings, bridges, roads, plants and the underground. For a full report on keynote presentations and AEC offerings, see AECWeekly.

Product announcements:

The October 2009 availability of MicroStation V8i (SELECTseries 1) is relevant to geospatial in that Bentley products built on MicroStation such as Bentley Map will also become available at the time of that release. This newest version of MicroStation features innovative and flexible value-creative enhancements for infrastructure professionals highlighted by RealDWG library support and integrated 3D printing capabilities.

Some highlights of the soon-to-be released MicroStation V8i SELECTSeries 1) include:

  • RealDWG interoperability advances.
  • 3D printing support
  • Dynamic Views for drawing composition
  • Luxology animation

Delivering “dynamic” collaboration – ProjectWise Navigator V8i and Bentley i-models will include:

  • Static visualization limitations
  • Dynamic collaboration empowerment
  • Value creation affordability

Details of specific geospatial software announcements will come closer to release date.

The immediate availability of Country-Level License Pooling and Passport Subscriptions was also announced. Country-Level License Pooling, Bentley’s latest SELECT subscription enhancement, expands the benefits of site-level license pooling. Passport Subscriptions provide, for named users, an affordable alternative to perpetual license purchases.


Bentley acquired gINT Software, headquartered in Santa Rosa, Calif., a company that has provided geotechnical and geoenvironmental products since its founding in 1986. It is Bentley’s intention to address infrastructure underneath the ground as well as infrastructure on top. gINT’s newest product, gINT Enterprise, “maximizes the value of centrally managed subsurface data through multi-project reporting and extended querying power.” The product is designed for transportation operations, engineering consultancies, plants, campuses, and state and federal agencies with vast quantities of geotechnical data. With gINT Enterprise companies can reuse subsurface mapping information to serve civil, structural, geotechnical, and environmental information processes for owner-operators.

This is not a product that is well-known in geospatial, yet since Bentley and gINT already share thousands of customers, those customers and others will benefit from the integration of the two softwares.

From the press release:

With the phased rollout of gINT Enterprise, infrastructure professionals can expect to:

  • Report on and query subsurface data from an unlimited number of projects,
  • Standardize how an organization’s data is entered, imported, stored, and reported,
  • Share data with related software programs including CAD, GIS, contouring, and modeling applications, and more,
  • Visualize gINT data using the software’s extension for ArcGIS.

Bentley has entered into a technology agreement with Pointools Ltd., a high-performance software that exploits point clouds captured by 3D laser scanning of infrastructure assets, including aerial LiDAR surveys. According to the announcement, through this agreement, Bentley has licensed Pointools’ super-fast Vortex API engine (and its ongoing upgrades) for incorporation in MicroStation and all other software products that leverage Bentley’s platform technology.

The Pointools engine will be valuable to the AEC industry but interesting to geospatial in that it will make use of LiDAR surveys and possibly other geospatial products. Pointools is able to handle very large point cloud datasets, comprising billions of points from almost any scanning source. Press materials report that the Pointools Vortex engine will allow users to uniquely reference and geospatially coordinate point cloud files within the context of vector geometry and raster data.

Bentley Be Inspired Award Winners

Innovation in Utilities

Huntsville Utilities of Huntsville, AL won in this category, for their “Integrated Implementation of ProjectWise, Expert Designer, and SAP.”

Innovation in Utilities Award Winner - Huntsville Utilities
Innovation in Utilities Award Winner - Huntsville Utilities

Located in the northern part of Alabama, the municipal utility serves 163,000 electric, 84,000 gas, and water, for which they have historically maintained separate records for the three separate departments. Each department has maintained a separate design and mapping standard, and methods included pen, whiteout, MicroStation and FRAMME. The goal of the organization was to move to an integrated design platform.

Jay Stowe, vice president of Operations and Rob Getman, project manager, spoke on how Huntsville Utilities formed a cross-functional project team with Bentley to configure software and convert data. The project included linking Oracle Spatial with Bentley’s utility solution, integrating Bentley Expert Designer with ProjectWise, and interfacing these products with SAP. The benefits of standardization became apparent with the first comparison test of old versus new systems. Errors in the old system had caused a costly miscalculation.

“Until August 3rd of this year we used highlighters and did everything by hand,” said Stowe. “We have 600 employees, a waterworks, gas board, and a electric utility board.”

The driver for change was a need for a common platform. They had an SAP implementation that they wanted to implement concurrently with GIS which would handle materials, cost centers, compatible units and designs.

The organization needed an integrated design system for electric, gas and water, and a common mapping system that was compatible.

The plan was to implement ProjectWise and Expert Designer for gas, water and electric. They could convert gas and water later. They added an interface with SAP and electric conversion, launching the project in November 2009.

“We had MicroStation XM, but then V8i was launched so we went with it,” explained Getman. The advantages of V8i included V8i support for Oracle Spatial, enhancements and bug fixes from XM, better support for the latest release, better return on development costs, and a faster turnaround on bug fixes – “the company (Bentley) spends more time fixing the bugs in new releases.”

As a result of moving to V8i, Getman said they found new bugs quickly, had more frequent maintenance releases, they lost about a month of time and work as their schedule slipped as a result of reworks, and also they needed to train staff on using V8i.

The ProjectWise configuration integrated with Expert Designer and the SAP Project System. Currently the workflows and document management system. SAP generates a new project and sends it over to Bentley and will send over the results of a design. “We were configuring both systems at the same time, we could define how far we wanted to go with it, we also faced a lot of complexity,” said Getman.

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