May 23, 2005
BE Conference 2005 Geospatial Special Report - Emphasis on 3D GIS
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Conversion has been a costly option in the past, but today Bentley begs the question, “why convert at all?” Why not keep the engineering data in its original form and use the power of the database to index the information in the engineering drawings to create the reports for the Owner-Operators to use in the Operate and Plan phases of the infrastructure lifecycle? Using Oracle Spatial's indexing capability, for example, would provide a seamless process of keeping information current and reliable, with the whole organized system based on multiple representations in a distributed, networked environment.

Although in summary the seminar concluded that there were great benefits for managing high accuracy information related to infrastructure in a distributed environment, particularly for homeland security issues, more questions arose as to which geometric and thematic information would be relevant for the search index system, and how would you maintain relevant search information in the index as source documents may change - once you've created and filled the initial index with relevant source information?

Framework for Emergency Management

Dr. Dipl-Ing Sisi Zlatanova, GIS technology director of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, gave a presentation at the Research Seminar on the framework for emergency management that they are implementing in the Netherlands. The University is doing research and testing with Bentley, ESRI and Oracle Spatial. Many of their tests have involved interoperability and getting different systems to integrate. Most of Dr. Zlatanova's research involves 3D and how to organize data in the database management system.

Her talk offered a fresh perspective on emergency management and response. She remarked that in Europe people are not so concerned with “homeland security” protection from terrorism as they are in North America, that their interest in emergency response is in how to respond and to prevent disasters and by building more stable infrastructure.

Concerns with emergency response in the Netherlands include: being able to see how many people are in buildings, how you provide information to all different agencies. Of course, there are some people who just follow orders, people from different floors must be moved, how many people are involved, their professions, ages, etc. and how do you to find this information. Other important factors are plant specifications of floors, buildings, facility management information, municipality, pipeline and electrical company information.

The presentation focused on how to find this information and what system was needed.

Cadastral information may be thematically displayed based on property values
“In the Netherlands there is a lot of information maintained by municipality,” said Zlatanova, “aerial photos, cadastral, wastewater plants, pipes, gas pipelines, etc., so the police, fire and ambulance can use this information and it is integrated into the Oracle Spatial database management system. They have web access to Oracle Spatial. All the participants in an accident can get information and put information there, and this information goes immediately to Oracle Spatial and is immediately available to whomever needs it. The police have a meeting room to discuss how to react to an accident. All the computers in this room are connected to the database system. There is a
“crisis center,” and there is a second management center in the building of the police or wherever where different administrators from the municipality are involved. Responsibilities spread out and information is distributed from this second crisis center via the Internet. They can access the data that is in the municipality database and have the ability to communicate with people in the field.”

The Netherlands also have risk maps to help estimate risk if something happens, such as a factory explosion. It can indicate the radius around the factory that might be affected by the blast. This type of risk management solution is very strong in Europe, Zlatanova claimed. “We want to encourage people to indicate all risk areas.” Eastern Europe has no risk maps, yet the European Union has developed a policy requiring that all member countries have risk management solutions for compliance for disaster management prevention. Countries must now promise to resolve policy issues within a certain timeframe and produce risk maps.

Converting different formats are a big part of the research work for Delft University. Converting from one to another of GML Flavors and GML and to other different formats is a challenge. Bentley and ESRI use spatial data types that Oracle supports so from a conceptual point of view, Oracle offers a clearer solution for organizing the database system. With the new Bentley ProjectWise Connector for Oracle, “You can access the data from either ESRI and Bentley formats,” said Zlatanova. ”You don't need any conversion software like Safe Software. For many large companies it seems a very convenient solution, since different offices use different software.”

Last year Zlatanova organized the research seminar on the topic of 3D data integration which was more focused on interoperability and how to close the gap between different representations. Bentley's background is so strong in 3D, according to Zlatanova, and she believes Bentley will provide 3D tools for GIS.

“It's difficult to get real 3D when all your software is in 2D, when all your topology is in 2D,” noted Zlatanova. “A company that's already got 3D is in a much better position. You can expect [Bentley] they will have 3D GIS much sooner. If you can make a bridge between all the verticals - building, civil, plant and link all these with geospatial then you have a full 3D picture.”

The University of Delft has been using Bentley geospatial products for 4-5 years. In Europe most municipalities use Bentley software for all their geospatial, data collection, parcel creation and management. They have used laser scanning to scan all the rooms and processed the data in Cloudworks, then stored the points in Oracle. This data can be used for civil, plant and geospatial.

Zlatanova said that they use Oracle Spatial's network and topology model, as you have the node and link, and with the node you can start a whole geometry, then you store it in the same data type as the geometry of rooms. You can do analysis on the graph using nodes and links, and do the visualization on the basis of graphics in 3D, and can store all six polygons in one room.

Other features of Oracle that are used include editing, data organization, and topology. The organization and visualization in 3D are part of Bentley's products. From Bentley's existing topology technology, Zlatanova expects 3D topology for buildings to be developed in the future.

Already there is topology in plant, TriForma and civil, said Zlatanova. The next step is how do you make topology inside a building. “3D GIS should be able to use topology for buildings, to compute the distance between inside one building to the inside of another, for example.”

Some of the same sharing information issues exist in the Netherlands as in the U.S., of course. For example, by law, agencies are required to deliver information to each other, but in practice, many municipalities don't want to do this. It's not just the issue of sharing information, but the question of who's going to pay? It's not always about the money; it's political, personal, and more about private companies, such as telecoms. Besides security reasons the police or fire department don't want to share information although they want information from other agencies. Their fear is: if you deliver it out, it could be misused.

Full coverage of the BE Conference can be found in last week's issue of


Connexion2, pioneers of the Identicom lone worker device, has signed a strategic partnership agreement with high accuracy location technology company, CPS, to explore opportunities to integrate CPS technology in its future products.

CPS (Cambridge Positioning Systems Ltd), GSM and WCDMA location technology providers, and location based service specialists Trackwell announce plans to jointly market their respective solutions to operators and enterprises.

The two companies will work together to promote each other's offerings and collaborate on service and technology deployments with operators around the world.

Municipal Software, a provider of business process automation solutions for government announced the creation of a co-marketing alliance with ImageSource, Inc. of Olympia, WA, a leading provider of content management solutions and professional services.

You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.


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