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August 23, 2004
New Ways to Save Lives
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! Last week Autodesk launched their
Local Government/Public Works Solution, designed to help local governments and public works agencies create, manage and share their CAD, GIS and engineering information in an Oracle environment.

A press day hosted by Autodesk in San Rafael was held to discuss the then-upcoming announcement and outline the Infrastructure Solutions Division's strategy. Read about it in this week's Industry News.

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

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

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

New Ways to Save Lives

By Susan Smith

Last week Autodesk launched their
Local Government/Public Works Solution, designed to help local governments and public works agencies create, manage and share their CAD, GIS and engineering information in an Oracle environment.

A press day hosted by Autodesk in San Rafael was held to discuss the then-upcoming announcement and outline the Infrastructure Solutions Division's strategy. Chris Bradshaw, vice president of Autodesk's Infrastructure Solution Division spoke about how the infrastructure division represents $1.9 billion in software and services. The division is divided up into four segments: engineering and construction (served the longest - $200 million software), communication and utilities ($600 million software), transportation ($100 million software) and government ($500 million software). (These numbers represent what the Gartner Group has come up with).

In recent years, Autodesk has focused on very scalable solutions to accommodate both large and small customers in both segments.

Infrastructure lifecycle management at Autodesk still touts the same message: “Create manage share.” Bradshaw said that they have been focused on “create” since the beginning of the company, and are now very focused on the manage share side. “MapGuide and the Internet really opened up share, and manage is a pretty new area for us,” he said.

A new opportunity for manage presents itself in emergency response, an area Autodesk has spent the past year working on for CAD/GIS integration for firemen, policeman, and other non-traditional GIS users, who are now using MapGuide and Map3D.

The new set of solutions for the public works market leverages CAD and GIS and maintains the integrity of data, and is fully integrated with Oracle. It is also a cost effective solution out of the box. It includes individual application modules, for example, sewer, water, cadastral, drainage, electricity, roads, and map books for infrastructure data capture and management. These modules are built on Autodesk Map, Autodesk MapGuide, and Autodesk Land Desktop software. The solution is integrated with an Oracle database. The modules can be used as standalone software or can work together.

Evolution to model-based design

GIS users have used models for a long time, but for CAD users it is a relatively new concept, in spite of the fact that 3D CAD has been available for some time. The civil world is not 3D literate; “Most civil design today is developed in lines, arcs and circles,” noted Bradshaw. Last September Autodesk launched a PC based modeling product called Civil 3D, which the company believes has huge ramifications for the entire CAD/GIS industry. If civil engineers can start with the modeling process in CAD then carry it over to GIS, then the entire integration process is made much smoother.

2D to 3D migration

“The biggest challenge is helping our customers learn a new process,” Bradshaw suggested. “Help engineers design in 3D.”

One example of models being used in the civil industry is where GPS sit on top of earth moving equipment, and GPS inside equipment. A model feeds that capability, as digital terrain models have been in object oriented systems. Here you are modeling the landbase. The ROI was so great with this technology that construction companies have transformed engineers' survey data.

Over in the GIS department, there was some kind of RDBMS, and connected to it was a desktop application. “Mainstream PC stuff was about 10 years ahead of CAD. In the 80s and 90s we saw the explosion in both of these worlds,” recalled Bradshaw.

Map 3D has been made smart about talking to Oracle Spatial. Map can still write to Oracle Spatial and read from it, and also write to e:/project (the basic way many engineers still store their work). MapGuide has to go out into the field and into publishing.

Civil 3D is actually a superset of Map 3D, meaning whether you create in one or the other, they both know all about the project you are working on. It is designed for those customers who are thinking about operate manage, where their focus is out to MapGuide, the field, the public. However, there are a lot of contractual issues that will require engineers to continue to store things as t:\project. “I don't think engineers at construction firms or A/E/C firms will begin to store their civil projects on Oracle Spatial. They are not thinking of operate manage,” said Bradshaw.

If they are starting from scratch, the benefits of working out of an RDBMS are greater, for telcom, it's best to have multiple people hitting one model at once. Big database systems do that stuff well. Then you have the ability to query and analyze that you can't do on t:\ project. There is a much richer data mining world in a database.

With the database as central store they can use the same dataset. The challenge is that infrastructure is on a long lifecycle. If you have just finished a big project, nobody is thinking they are going to need the material for awhile, for maybe 10 years. Construction management is involved in a process of doing things with t:\ project. Bradshaw said there probably won't be much change in this market segment for the next ten years.

Operate manage will be more inclined to use RDBMS and facilitate what GIS can do with data.

Which customer segments driving Autodesk to develop these solutions?

Telco utilities are leading the RDBMS solutions and need this change the most. Governments are next. Governments are not totally motivated by ROI and TCO; they are not just focused on efficiency, according to Bradshaw. There is political involvement as well.

Standards and Interoperability

How to work the vision in a heterogeneous environment as well as a homogeneous environment:

We should allow our customers to share that data from disparate systems.

The Importance of Interoperability:
- Interoperability is the ability to share info based on a common open agreed format (similar to human language)

- More engineering and GIS data are made available daily.

- Open GIS consortium

- Autodesk principle member

- Attend all TC and PC meetings of the specifications program

- Specifications programs- abstract specifications , SFO, CRS, GML, OWS.

- Working groups ILM WG, GovWG, OGC Europe

- Implemented various specifications in our products, Map3D, MapGuide, AGDS, FDO
Customers are asking for OGC specifications so they can interoperate.

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-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.