GIS Tech News (#109)

16 Nov, 2011 By: Cadalyst Staff

The Role of GIS in the Smart Grid

As two-way communications enhance dialogue between power consumers and suppliers, network operators are beginning to require location as a standard for effective system management.

By Christine Easterfield

Many factors are changing the way our energy networks operate: regulatory agencies, the rise of renewable energy sources, and smart technologies that drive intelligent devices in the home or along the network. As the electrical power grid grows ever smarter, these developments are causing organizations to take a closer look at the technologies that support the management and operation of the network.

Up to now, energy networks have been a one-way channel from generation to consumption, but emerging technologies that enable two-way communications are creating the possibility of a dialogue between the consumer and the supplier. This results in a consumer who knows in real time how much power they are using (and at what cost), and a utility that has better management, pricing, and forecasting tools for its network.

It also blurs the distinction between consumer and provider, enabling the customer to become an occasional supplier as local generation facilities and the use of electric vehicle batteries for load-balancing storage become a reality. Manufacturing businesses may even find themselves making minute-by-minute decisions about switching on their generators, either to send power to their factories, or to sell it to the grid.

Who, What, and Where

This greater involvement with the energy consumer has implications for the records that infrastructure companies maintain. What we used to call "mapping the last mile" — referring to the leg of the network that reaches the customer — is now crucial to understanding how each consumer is connected. Network managers need to know where a far greater number of occasional, distributed generation points (such as industrial sites or rooftop solar panels) connect with the grid, and what impact they have on the overall power flow.

Location has always been a crucial consideration, whether network operators are calculating losses, balancing loads, or planning new extensions. These latest changes create demand for technology that has location as a standard component, supporting new devices, software, and services throughout the system — from the generation plant to the consumer's meter. Read more »
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Christine Easterfield is principal consultant for Cambashi, where she specializes in GIS.



Bentley Seeks to Extend Point Cloud Data through Infrastructure Lifecycle

With its acquisition of Pointools, the infrastructure software provider prepares to leverage a new fundamental data type across the ProjectWise and AssetWise platforms.

By Cadalyst Staff

During its Be Inspired: Thought Leadership in Infrastructure event held in Amsterdam last week, Bentley Systems announced the acquisition of Pointools, a developer of hardware-neutral point cloud software. The purchase comes two years after the two companies signed a technology agreement allowing Bentley to embed Pointools' Vortex API engine in MicroStation. With the new acquisition, Bentley plans to assimilate point cloud processing and data management throughout its ProjectWise and AssetWise platforms.

As scanning hardware prices fall, point cloud capture is becoming ever more affordable, but the data is often limited to temporary, task-specific purposes because the outsize files defy storage and querying. "The scale of the files has meant they're not as useful as they could be throughout the project," CEO Greg Bentley explained during his Be Inspired keynote address.

With those challenges out of the way, point clouds, as a fundamental data type, can serve as "as-operated" 3D models for infrastructure assets. "Point clouds no longer by virtue of their size need be throwaways," Mr. Bentley continued. "We have the opportunity now to include point clouds in all of our workflows." Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: GIS Events

Discover the Power of Bentley Map V8i
November 17, 2011
10 a.m. ET
Join Bentley for a webinar featuring Bentely Map v8i (SELECT series 2), 3D GIS software designed to meet the challenging needs of organizations that map, plan, design, build, and operate the world's infrastructure. Read more 

Maps in the Cloud Workshop
November 17, 2011
Everett, Washington
Attendees can bring WiFi-enabled laptops to participate in this hands-on workshop from WAURISA (the Washington State Chapter of The Urban & Regional Information Systems Association) and Esri demonstrating how to create intelligent web maps without having any GIS software installed on a computer. Read more

7th International gvSIG Conference
November 30–December 2, 2011
Valencia, Spain
"Conquering New Areas" will be the theme for this open-source GIS (geographic information system) software conference organized by the gvSIG Association. Read more

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What's New at

CADspeed Blog Post:
The Difference Between a Workstation and Consumer-Grade PC for CAD

What's the difference between a workstation or consumer-grade PC, and why should you care? Read more

IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial:
The Broader Applications of Autodesk Factory Design Suite

If you think the Autodesk Factory Design Suite only works with factories, you're missing out. Read more

CAD Manager's Toolbox: Take Control of File Translation
Use this simple step-by-step process before your project kicks off. Read more

What CAD Cloud?
Latest CAD Manager's Survey verifies that CAD in the cloud, for the most part, isn't happening yet. Read more

Win a Free Subscription to Cadalyst!
Cadalyst and Axiom are conducting a survey of AutoCAD users. Please take a few minutes to help us understand your main challenges with AutoCAD and the training tools you use. Three lucky winners will win a free subscription to Cadalyst ($48 value). Thank you! Click here to take survey.

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

Add comment

Note: Comments are moderated and will appear live after approval by the site moderator.

AutoCAD Tips!

Lynn Allen

In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD Video Tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter, and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!

Follow Lynn on TwitterFollow Lynn on Twitter

Do you use social media — such as Facebook or Twitter updates, YouTube videos, or discussion forums — for work-related purposes?
Yes, I regularly use such resources for work-related purposes.
Yes, but on a limited or infrequent basis.
No, because my employer frowns upon or prohibits doing so.
No, because I don’t have the time or interest.
Submit Vote

Download Cadalyst Magazine Special Edition