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September 25, 2006
Autodesk Topobase for Infrastructure Design and Management
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!

Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! The acquisition of the company c-plan by Autodesk in 2005 has led to the release last week of Autodesk Topobase 2007, an infrastructure design and management solution, built on Autodesk Map 3D on the client side, and Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise. Topobase was c-plan's premier product and is now one of Autodesk's primary geospatial offerings. Read about this announcement and other trends in this week's Industry News.

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

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Autodesk Topobase for Infrastructure Design and Management

By Susan Smith

The acquisition of the company c-plan by Autodesk in 2005 has led to the release last week of Autodesk Topobase 2007, an infrastructure design and management solution, built on Autodesk Map 3D on the client side, and Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise. Topobase was c-plan's premier product and is now one of Autodesk's primary geospatial offerings.

In some cases, an acquisition doesn't necessarily mean the immediate integration of the two product lines, rather, this process can take many years. c-plan was an Autodesk partner since 1996 and was already using MapGuide and Autodesk Map as their design platform. They had built a solid install base of 500 customers mostly in Central Europe, including municipalities, public works, private utilities and other large engineering and manufacturing organizations.

According to Stephen Brockwell, program manager for Infrastructure Solutions, c-plan is a highly verticalized framework for utilities, government agencies, communications firms, and survey or land management firms. “Obviously we have Civil 3D, a highly verticalized design platform, but Topobase is a truly vertical platform in the geospatial realm that spans all of the lifecycle aspects of an asset: surveying and design through construction and through the ongoing management downstream.”

Geospatial Strategy

Vice president of Infrastructure Solutions, Chris Bradshaw spoke about two major drivers in the utilities industry and very particularly in the water industry: 1) abundance on demand for services worldwide, which includes refurbishment of existing infrastructure in developed countries but also significant demand for water, clean water and the infrastructure to deliver it in developing countries, which are key to worldwide economic growth at this time.

2) Scarcity of engineering and technical professionals who can design and manage the construction and refurbishment of infrastructure, scarcity of the resource itself, especially with regard to water, and finally, scarcity of capital to be able to engage in a lot of these large infrastructure projects, i.e., the costs of building water systems. The costs of delivering new water services in a municipality or other government agencies are very significant. Many government agencies can no longer afford to manage those facilities in a cost effective way without impacting their tax rates and having some dissatisfaction among their customers. Aqua America, the largest publicly traded water
company in the U.S., is acquiring many local smaller water companies and managing them with a series of best practices. They are ensuring that infrastructure is of sufficient quality, that it's managed at the best possible cost effectiveness and the services delivered are of the best possible quality, at a rate that the customers will pay for and the government agencies can afford.

Five Components of Autodesk's Geospatial Strategy:

- data

- business integration

- Map 3D CAD client

- MapGuide web client

- How Topobase 2007 Fits In


Autodesk is uniquely positioned to model the infrastructure right through its lifecycle, according to Brockwell. “Civil 3D is part of our offering. It allows engineers to model infrastructure as it must be constructed. The construction industry is a big opportunity for Autodesk. We made the Constructware acquisition in our collaboration services group and the construction side is poorly served by the GIS industry today. It is better served by AutoCAD, Bentley and others. You can service the construction users because that's where the infrastructure actually gets built, that's where a huge amount of initial capital costs are spent, but you can move that 3D real world model of the actual infrastructure as it's built into a more network oriented, operational model. It's very important that our customers be able to go from the physical model of the infrastructure as it's going to be built with all the construction details AutoCAD provides, to an operational model that is network-centric that allows them to ask questions of the network, for example, if I shut off this valve here because I've got a leaking main that I have to maintain, what are the customers that are going to be affected, how can I backfeed those customers from another main and do some negotiation on that network to make sure to maximize the service during this necessary interruption? Those kinds of
questions require not just a physical infrastructure model, but a logical infrastructure model composed of topology and relationships.”

Additionally, the data elements from asset management problems really must be integrated into an informational view of the assets, which may or may not participate in any spatial asset at all.

Business Integration

Topobase is completely open, database-centric, and running on Oracle. Oracle Spatial 10g is integrated into Topobase. The customer can use whatever third party technology integration software they want to use to talk to SAP, Maximo, Hansen, etc.

Buzzsaw is an ideal platform for sharing out information across organizational boundaries, where you have a large number of multi-vendor participants.

Map 3D

Map 3D is an improved geospatial platform for both doing all the AutoCAD based design, drafting and construction detailing you need to do to get a job built, but it also allows you to access a wide variety of foreign data sources.

Feature data objects (FDO) provides a consistent interface to geospatial information based on Open Geospatial industry standards that allows end users to access ESRI, ArcSDE databases, Microsoft SQL Server databases, MySQL open geometry databases, Oracle Spatial databases, all in a completely transparent way. “It's platform independent, runs on Linux, it's been open sourced with MapGuide and both Map 3D and MapGuide use exactly the same database interfaces, so we aren't inventing a web data consumption tool and a CAD data consumption tool. FDO is one single data access architecture,” said Brockwell.


“From a geospatial point of view, we have had really great success with MapGuide 6 and its architecture, but it was very dependent on an ActiveX component on every user's desktop,” explained Brockwell. “For security reasons, that's really a non starter in the federal agencies.” AJAX and other web-centric, server-centric development technologies have been coming forward now. MapGuide leverages all those technologies, multi-platform, and runs on Linux and Windows, and allows developers to still have the efficient development tool of MapGuide, but have it all in a server-centric code environment based on standards.

Where Topobase 2007 Fits in

Topobase plugs in as a series of data model-centric vertical modules, and Topobase stores its information in an Oracle database. It has database-centric integrity and business rules that protect the data and makes sure it maintains its integrity. The CAD client user and MapGuide user are really using the same tool to manage their data, so when a customer changes to their water application to customize it to their specific conditions, they make those changes in the modeling environment at the database level. Map 3D users creating their design on the client and MapGuide users consuming and doing business functions on that data both get to see the changes to the application because all of
those are driven out of the database. It's not a code-centric environment. You don't write a lot of code to deploy a new Topobase application.

Topobase is a top tier solution, said Brockwell. “We will price it competitively but customers will have to make investments in data cleaning, data acquisitions, business process changes, etc. We understand that Autodesk customers really participate in what we are now calling a 'geospatial value chain.' Probably about 20 percent of our customers in infrastructure management are still using only AutoCAD to manage the documentation of their infrastructure. In some organizations, it will be the engineering group doing the finished drawings, perhaps using ESRI to get the data in or using some other tool to integrate the mapping information, but they're using AutoCAD to get the final
detailing and they aren't using Autodesk Map at all.”

Brockwell went on to describe the geospatial value chain that would furnish a road map for customers on how to improve their business by having more accurate asset information in a geospatial context without having to go all the way from AutoCAD to Topobase, which requires significant IP investments and business practice changes.

Each step of the way they can have multi user editing of drawing files, tiled and layered drawing files that are seamlessly integrated, and coordinate systems. As they move up, they can start to access ESRI data via FDOs so they can integrate that into their CAD design processes.

According to Brockwell, in most organizations, actual mapping information lags behind the actual constructed network. There is still a wide gulf between GIS and CAD. From a finance point of view this can create a problem because the organization lacks an accurate picture of the capital value of their assets at a given point in time.

Topobase is designed to put information on a much more modern network-centric architecture with standard interfaces rather than ad hoc interfaces between business systems. “By using a completely standard backbone technology such as Topobase, these IT departments can integrate their system using whatever technology they normally use to integrate peer to peer business systems such as finance and operations that might typically be an SAP or financials.”

Topobase uses Oracle and all its features for system integration at the backend and integrates with many other systems. End users get a seamless view and access to the information as an enterprise resource without the need to move all their business systems to Oracle.

“You can pass information along a business process rather than ship a file from one person to another,” said Brockwell. Planning can be based on more up to date information, and information can be shared more efficiently. Each data model includes data integrity relationships, workflows and business rules that keep your integrity intact so you are not inadvertently including inaccurate attributes.

A real difference between the AutoCAD view of the world and the asset management view is the display model, or, the way you present information to your different users. In Topobase, a water asset starts out as an idea to be built in the ground, goes into design in AutoCAD, then goes into the database as an actual object. “All the graphical information about that design element is useful for construction but may be very different for operational users,” Brockwell concluded.

Autodesk has a non-exclusive partnership with Oracle for the integration of Oracle Spatial 10g into Topobase 2007. They are also partnering with CH2MHill for implementation services and are developing a new geospatial channel to support Topobase.

Sample pricings (unlimited configurations):

- Typical configuration ~ $50K to $150K including system integration

- 50% software / 50% services

Top News of the Week

ESRI is demonstrating
enhancements in the company's new
ArcGIS 9.2 software this fall during a series of
worldwide seminars developed for
geographic information system (GIS) professionals. The complimentary day-long presentations are being held in 46 states, ending in December. Seminars also are planned for customers outside the United States, starting in Sweden, Finland, and the United Kingdom, and expanding to other countries.

ArcGIS 9.2 is a complete system for authoring, serving, and using geographic knowledge. "This release, for us, is one of the biggest, most productive releases that we have ever done," said Jack Dangermond, ESRI president. "Our goal is to make the products much easier to use, more reliable, of higher quality, and with many new capabilities," he said.


Intergraph Corporation announced a teaming agreement with James W. Sewall Company, a leading provider of comprehensive GIS software and consulting services. Intergraph will integrate its geofacilities management offering with Sewall's suite of pipeline integrity tools to deliver a complete utilities pipeline integrity management solution.


ESRI is pleased to announce that the Ninth Annual
Middle East and North Africa Conference for ESRI Users will be hosted by InfoGraph, LLC, its distributor in Jordan, at the Le Royal Hotel in Amman, Jordan. The conference will be held October 31-November 2, 2006.

ORBIMAGE Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: GEOY), which does business under the name GeoEye, announced that The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC has approved its application to list its securities on The Nasdaq Global Market. GeoEye began trading its common stock today, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2006 under the symbol “GEOY.”

The Company's common stock was previously traded as “ORBM” on the National Quotation Service Bureau, known as the over-the-counter Pink Sheets, since January 13, 2004.

The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) has announced that author and motivational speaker Dorothy Waldman will present the keynote address at the 15th annual GIS for Oil & Gas Conference and Exhibition, slated for September 18-20, 2006, at the JW Marriott Hotel in Houston, Texas.

Waldman, a self-proclaimed “biker babe,” infuses her presentations with humor and wit as she details how she discovered transforming life lessons by overcoming a lifelong aversion to motorcycles and ultimately embracing the sport of motorcycle riding.


GeoDecisions is pleased to announce the promotions of three key staff members. Stephen A. Ellis was promoted to vice president, Miomir Ivanovic was promoted to director of intelligent transportation systems (ITS), and Brian J. Smith was promoted to director of state government.

BAE Systems has named Drew Fisher as commercial sales manager for North America, representing the company's Geospatial eXploitation Products (GXP). Fisher is responsible for managing the sales for SOCET SET® and SOCET GXP™ software in the region.

Avineon, Inc., a successful provider of IT, geospatial, engineering and program management services, announced the promotion of Xiaodong Hong to director of Avineon's Technical Solutions Group (TSG). In this role, Hong will be responsible for managing TSG projects and personnel and delivering highly specialized geographic information systems (GIS) consulting and application development services to a diverse client base. TSG is a new segment of Avineon's Geospatial and Engineering Services division created to better focus geospatial services the company has provided for several years.

ESRI is pleased to announce that David M. Danko, manager of
GIS standards, was recently honored by the International Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) with its Merit Award for his work in developing spatial data standards.

Optimal Geomatics Inc., a geomatics solutions provider to engineering and geospatial professionals, is pleased to announce the appointment of John Leahy to the position of Director of Energy. Mr. Leahy who joined Optimal in 2002 as Senior Account Manager for Electric Transmission, will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Division's sales, business development, and application of technology to enhance the company's leading position in the Energy sector.

SeaZone Solutions Ltd, the UK's leading supplier of marine data, has announced the appointment of two new team members to reinforce its commitment to the marine GIS market.

The UK's coastal zone has become an increasingly valuable resource for oil and gas reserves, renewable energy and tourism. Lucy Connor joins SeaZone's customer service team and will be responsible for client orders, license renewals and general enquiries. SeaZone is also welcoming Mike Glassborow, who joins the company as a Sales Consultant. With more than eight years experience in the strategic sales field, Mike will be managing contracts for companies within the private sector.

Optimal Geomatics Inc., a geomatics solutions provider to engineering and geospatial professionals, is pleased to announce the appointment of John Leahy to the position of Director of Energy. Mr. Leahy who joined Optimal in 2002 as Senior Account Manager for Electric Transmission, will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Division's sales, business development, and application of technology to enhance the company's leading position in the Energy sector.


Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGC), Pakistan has been recognized for excellence in the geographic information system (GIS) field with a 2006 Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) award at the Twenty- sixth Annual ESRI International User Conference in San Diego, California. This award is the very first for Pakistani company and SSGC is indeed proud and privileged to be recognized as the flagship for Pakistan's GIS Application for utility services.

ESRI presented this award to SSGC on August 9, 2006 due to its outstanding performance, dedication and commitment through the use of GIS technology. SSGC has been chosen out of more than 150,000 organizations worldwide. The entire SSGC's GIS system has been developed from scratch in-house.


NAVTEQ, global provider of digital map data for location-based solutions and vehicle navigation, has been selected as a primary map data provider by the US Government. NAVTEQ will provide road network and standard points of interest data under a government-wide enterprise license to numerous Government agencies supporting US homeland defense.

SANZ announced that the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA) has selected EarthWhere to incorporate its large scale data management capabilities into its service production facilities at Quantico, VA.

MCIA is a recognized "Center of Excellence" of Expeditionary Intelligence and provides the Marine Operating Forces with intelligence in support of operational and pre-deployment planning, training and exercises. MCIA is fully integrated into the Defense Intelligence Analysis Program (DIAP).

Galdos announced a new contract to develop an urban spatial data infrastructure (SDI) within the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The urban SDI will enable public and private agencies to share mapping data and to distribute data changes and updates in near real-time. The objective of this project is to enable users of the system to significantly reduce data redundancy cost and increase productivity through access to timely data.


New cartographic functions in ArcGIS 9.2 that will make producing maps easier will be demonstrated during a free ESRI live training seminar offered on the Web in October.

Introduction to Cartographic Representations at ArcGIS 9.2 will air from the Training and Education Web site at www.esri.com/training on October 12, 2006, at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 3:00 p.m. Pacific daylight time.

For more information about this free live training seminar and upcoming classes, visit the training

ESRI launched a new, streamlined
Training and Education Web site this summer to help GIS professionals find all the company's educational resources in one location on the Internet.

The user-friendly
website replaces two Web sites that separately handled registration for instructor-led classes at ESRI learning centers and the Virtual Campus training conducted via the Internet.

ESRI invites students, educators, and administrators in the United States from K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and libraries and museums to submit their original lessons using
geographic information system (GIS) software to the 2006 ArcLessons Challenge for a chance to win one of six cash awards. The winners' lessons will be published on the
ArcLessons website as well as several other resource sites. Submissions are due by 4:00 p.m. on October 16, 2006.

Up to six awards will be distributed for high-quality lessons that help students and educators learn about real-world applications of geospatial technologies. The ArcLessons Challenge includes one award of $2,500, two awards of $1,000 each, and three awards of $500 each for the best entries. The competition is open to United States residents who are 18 years of age or older and are individual students or faculty, on teams of students and faculty, or educational program developers.

For more information about the challenge, including guidelines, eligibility, and entry forms, visit ArcLessons website.

New Products

ESRI announced that BusinessMAP Financial, a new, industry-specific version of its BusinessMAP database mapping software, is now shipping. Packaged with data from ESRI and datasets specifically designed for the financial services industry by RPM Consulting, a leading financial services data provider, BusinessMAP Financial provides extensive data and interactive features.

LeadDog Consulting, LLC announced the release of detailed geographic databases of major roads for Honduras and city streets for Tegucigalpa to support military, government, asset-tracking, and commercial GIS applications. Designed to deliver accurate positional data, assist organizations track their assets, and provide accurate base level mapping. LeadDog's product provides numerous vector layers and attributes such as:

- Streets at 1:10,000 scale

- Street names

- Street classifications

- Extensive Points of Interest (airports, hospitals, government offices, etc…)

- Water and Landmark polygons

- Political division and borders

Archetype, Inc., a rapidly growing leader in remote wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) data communications, announced the commercial availability of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) edition of its TerraTrace GPS/GSM asset tracking system.

TerraTrace is an asset tracking and monitoring solution that provides true real-time location and status information for mobile assets. TerraTrace uses a small, onboard GPS/GSM tracker/transmitter device which communicates position coordinates and other sensor data to TerraTrace's secure data center. The data is then made available to authorized users via a secure Internet connection.

East View Cartographic (EVC) announced the company's launch of a new and updated e-commerce site for sales of worldwide maps and geospatial data. The site, known as 'EVC Store', allows customers to browse availability of products and place orders 24 hours a day. EVC Store currently includes global topographic map series, worldwide DEM coverage, geological maps, vector maps, related books and atlases, with imagery and nautical charts to be added in the near future. EVC Store can be accessed from the company's home page at

Orbit Geospatial Technologies presents Orbit GIS 4.1 for Windows on 32bit and 64bit machines. The Orbit GIS Desktop solution now comes with over 80 new and improved functionalities. Download a copy

Orbit GIS 4.1 offers improvements on many issues, ranging from new editing functions and multiple layerlists, to improved graphics and symbolics tools. A range of improvements have been made to the user interface, with focus on user friendliness to open up GIS technology to non-experienced users. , Orbit GIS 4.1 is also available for 64bit Windows platforms, with identical capabilities. Use Orbit GIS 4.1 to edit online resources mapped on the web using Orbit FlashMap. Use the unique 'Publish to the Web' feature to configure Orbit FlashMap in a few minutes only.

ViewPoint Engineering, Inc. officially announces the release of ViewPermit©, its GIS-based software package designed specifically for the management of municipal permits. ViewPermit© provides an innovative solution to communities looking to integrate their permitting process with GIS. Designed with .NET technology and utilizing embedded ESRI Developer Network resources, ViewPermit is one of a kind in that it provides users the unique ability to integrate their GIS-based parcel maps seamlessly with permit-tracking, incorporating an additional dimension to municipal permit management. ViewPermit© does this in a manner that is accessible even to users with no GIS
training. Additionally, ViewPermit© automates report generation so that custom reports are generated in seconds.

Upcoming Events

URISA Annual Conference

Date: September 26 - 29, 2006

Place: Vancouver Convention Center Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Go beyond basic technology and applications and contemplate issues related to designing, managing and applying information technology - at its highest and best use - to improve our urban and regional environments. Join your colleagues, peers, thinkers and doers from around the world at URISA's Annual Conference.


Date: September 27 - 29, 2006

Place: Orange County, CA USA

This unique, hands-on workshop teaches the fundamentals of how to use a Geographic Information System (GIS) in a way that is particularly relevant to social service providers, planners and researchers. Participants learn to make thematic maps of their community, geocode addresses and perform spatial queries and analysis. Participants also learn to extract and map Census variables such as race, poverty, language, education, health and many other demographic variables. Exercises are designed for beginners. Intermediate Excel skills required. Each students is assigned a computer on which to work for the day.

You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.