May 23, 2005
BE Conference 2005 Geospatial Special Report - Emphasis on 3D GIS
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| by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Welcome to GISWeekly! According to Bentley, traditional GIS does not adequately encompass geometric discipline where accuracy and precision are paramount, and does not address the use of 3D. Often GIS practitioners lack the geometric discipline of civil engineering and surveying. Many interpretive techniques such as digitizing and warping are used in GIS that reduce quality and accuracy. In modeling the real world, Bentley suggests that the map moves from symbolic representation to geodetic geometry, geometry becomes the 3D context for infrastructure, and engineering assets of all types populate and extend this geometry. Read about the BE Conference Geospatial presentations in this
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BE Conference 2005 Geospatial Special Report - Emphasis on 3D GIS
By Susan Smith
The interesting part about attending two vendor-specific conferences almost back to back is that you get a pretty good overview of what the industry is doing as a whole and what each vendor is about. Sometimes, when the events are spread out over a couple of months, as a journalist I begin to think only of the industry trends and not the individual directions of the various companies.
In the past few weeks I've attended Bentley's BE Conference 2005 in Baltimore, and Intergraph's Geospatial World 2005.
Keith Bentley, Director and CTO of Bentley Systems, said in a press conference that the only place they really compete with Intergraph these days is in the area of Plant and Process. “We don't have any geospatial products that compete head to head,” he claimed, adding that their installed base does use a mix of Intergraph and MicroStation products.
This is an interesting statement, as during the early 90s Intergraph and Bentley were essentially joined at the hip, whether happily or not, until Bentley acquired its remaining interest in MicroStation from Intergraph and began in earnest to develop products on top of it. Intergraph was left with several products that were dependent upon the MicroStation CAD engine, and a number of those products are still being used today by users, such as their FRAMME product.
Direct connect with Oracle's spatial database enables fast data extraction.
Although the companies are each divided up into industry sectors (Intergraph just announced a
the week of their conference, bringing the number of their global industry sectors from four to two), and a number of Intergraph employees still live in Huntsville (Intergraph's home base) and work for Bentley, they bear very little resemblance to one another.
What differentiates the two is not industry trends, but their approach. For Intergraph's Mapping and Geospatial Division,
was the buzz phrase this year, and
“different types of sensors, GPS and wireless”
were viewed as the three most important technologies spurring the spatial industry.
For Bentley, the view is quite different. According to Bentley, traditional GIS does not adequately encompass geometric discipline where accuracy and precision are paramount, and does not address the use of 3D. Often GIS practitioners lack the geometric discipline of civil engineering and surveying. Many interpretive techniques such as digitizing and warping are used in GIS that reduce quality and accuracy. In modeling the real world, Bentley suggests that the map moves from symbolic representation to geodetic geometry, geometry becomes the 3D context for infrastructure, and engineering assets of all types populate and extend this geometry.
There was an emphasis at BE in moving toward geospatial 3D. With its background in 3D, Bentley is very well positioned to do this, and feels that some other GIS vendors are not positioned as well because they rely on a topological database. “A topological database is not built to do 3D,” according to Carey Mann. The idea, Mann said, is to have one platform for a project like 3D city model planning, using TriForma, Bentley's extension for MicroStation that provides a common technology platform for architectural and engineering design, in GIS.
At the Geospatial keynote, Bentley introduced next generation mapping technology, MicroStation Map, which will allow full MicroStation GeoGraphics capability with analytic and thematic tools included. This product will be a geospatial extension of the new MicroStation V8 XM Edition. Also offered will be specific editions of Map such as MicroStation Map for land management, which will allow users to implement parcel editing tools.
Bentley ProjectWise Connector for Oracle will ship within the next two weeks. The connector enables Bentley applications to interoperate with any native Oracle Spatial 9i or 10g datastore. Moreover, it preserves the definition of the geospatial data as specified by the user organization, rather than placing vendor-dictated restrictions on the Oracle database definition.
With the synchronous release (fall 2005) Bentley will ship a Connector for topology editing on the Oracle model as well as one for mainstream data capture. Basically, Bentley has fully embraced Oracle 10g's native topological model in its geospatial creation and editing applications.
Bentley has evolved the ProjectWise environment so that federated data management can span databases, data management and file-based management, and can analyze files and find attributes quickly.
The next release of GeoWeb Publisher will provide significant performance enhancements and the ability to connect to various databases, support dynamic publishing and preprocessing publishing (i.e. that of Mapquest, etc.), publish directly from Oracle, and have development wizards for non-programmers.
Geospatial Research Seminar
The topic for Geospatial Research Seminar at BE was entitled “Sustainable, High Accuracy, Infrastructure Information Management and Interoperability - a framework for Homeland Security.” Certainly the topic of Homeland Security is not new to us who report on it for geospatial, but the emphasis for Bentley is on managing infrastructure, which it has been doing from the onset of the company. Bentley's flagship MicroStation was developed as a tool for architects and engineers; that base product has evolved to take in not only the design and building of a structural asset, but the maintenance and operations for the lifecycle of the project, which is the essence of the
“building information model (BIM)”. How GIS plays into this is that in the area of Homeland Security, it is now necessary to be able to analyze and respond to emergency situations very quickly. The ability of a BIM to be able to locate, manage and access information through the engineering lifecycle lends itself to the process of locating threatened assets and managing any potential damage to those assets in the event of an emergency that is part of the geospatial paradigm. Infrastructure damage must be assessed and the effects of damage minimized to ensure public safety.
The Bentley paradigm of the lifecycle of an asset is broken down into four parts: plan, design, build and operate. Bentley has long believed that the richest and most complete description of an asset is in the engineering documentation that was used to build it, or rather, source information. Historically, transforming, converting and abstracting engineering data into a GIS has been very difficult because it requires that an infrastructure constantly be worked and reworked. The alternative is to organize the information into a distributed environment based on multiple representations. The paradigm “create once, use many times” has become a critical goal in Homeland Security
where you are dealing with organizational barriers and fragmented information. During emergencies, there isn't time to seek out all relevant information sources, thus the government must organize and make available and accessible the proper information to the proper authorities before a disaster strikes.
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
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can be seen here.
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Date: May 30 - June 2, 2005
Place: Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil
GEOBrasil, ExpoGPS/Galileo, GEOIntelligence and GEO Oil and Gas together form the largest and most important and comprehensive set of events connected with geoinformation of Latin America. With the presence of the principal brand names, trade marks and leaders of the market, the event, workshops, courses, conferences and debates present a unique opportunity for total immersion in the principal novelties connected with geotechnologies to be found in the continent.
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