GIS Tech News (#93)

16 Feb, 2010 By: Cadalyst Staff

Vancouver Shares Data Stores

This Olympic host city has garnered golden results with its efforts to make maps, orthophotos, and other GIS information accessible to everyone.

By Andrew G. Roe

As Vancouver, British Columbia, opens its arms to Winter Olympics visitors this year, the city is also opening up its GIS data at unprecedented levels. The city launched its Open Data Catalogue last September, and expanded its web-based GIS offerings in January to include more than 100 layers of mapping and other data. GIS professionals and the general public can freely access the data, which is available in a variety of formats.

Vancouver's endeavor to share its data was propelled by a city resolution passed in May 2009 that pledged the city would "freely share with citizens, businesses and other jurisdictions the greatest amount of data possible." The resolution also directed city staff to adopt open data standards and open source software, stating the city "will place open source software on an equal footing with commercial systems during procurement cycles."

Although Vancouver is not the first major city to offer free GIS data, it is a leader in the extent of data being offered. Users can access information about property boundaries, contours, utilities, streets, parks, and numerous other topics, in formats that include DWG, KML, and SHP. Orthophotos, uncommon on other municipalities' open data sites, are also available.

City officials see Open Data as a more beneficial data management strategy than previous methods. "We'd been disseminating data for many years with license agreements," said Jonathan Mark, a GIS manager in the city's IT department. "We gave it away to some people, but the exposure and benefits were not as great." Read more »
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Andrew G. Roe is a registered civil engineer and president of AGR Associates, Inc.    

Geospatial Analysis with AutoCAD Map 3D, Part 3

Query your CAD drawings to access the wealth of data they contain: points, lines, text, and more.

By Michael Schlosser

It is said, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Now, imagine what we could do with a picture if it were more than a drawing – what if that picture were data too? In engineering and architectural design, CAD drawings are often treated as pictures and used to illustrate a design for construction purposes. However, CAD drawings, such as those created with AutoCAD software, contain a wealth of information that can be used for additional benefit. For example, a DWG file can consist of points, lines, text, and other CAD entities, as well as numerous CAD properties such as layer, line style, color, block name, and more.

With AutoCAD Map 3D software, this information can be queried and analyzed in much the same way that a spreadsheet or database can be queried. We can use this capability to help create new drawings, generate material lists and reports, find specific CAD features, and otherwise reveal new patterns in the data. With AutoCAD Map 3D we can use CAD data queries to help answer questions such as "How many power poles are in a proposed subdivision?" and "Where are all the fluorescent light fixtures in a specific building renovation?"

In this article, we will show how to use AutoCAD Map 3D to query your CAD drawings and explore why AutoCAD Map 3D is a great tool for analyzing your CAD data. Read more »
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Michael Schlosser, P.Eng., is an Autodesk technical specialist with more than 20 years' experience in the geospatial industry.


Mark Your Calendar: GIS Events

CARIS 2010: Stronger Together - People, Products, Infrastructure
March 22–25, 2010
Miami, Florida
The CARIS 2010 program will focus on core issues that relate to the innovation and integration of geospatial technologies in the areas of chart production, hydrographic survey, ports and waterways, and web mapping. Read more

ESRI Southeast Regional User Group Conference
April 26–28, 2010
Charlotte, North Carolina
Conference participants will discuss using geospatial technology to address today's issues and get guidance from peers and ESRI staff with varied specialties. Read more 

Cityworks 2010 User Conference
May 17–19, 2010
St. George, Utah
This conference is open to all Cityworks users, business partners, and other interested parties by invitation. Event proceedings include Cityworks technical and application sessions, user case studies, a vendor exhibit hall, and the Cityworks Doctor's Office. 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

Tell Cadalyst About Your Favorite Freebie and You Could Win!
Cadalyst is compiling a feature article for Cadalyst magazine and about the best free software tools for CAD-related work. Do you have a free (or almost free) tool that you can't live without during the course of your work day? Send your favorites to Cadalyst! Tell us the name of the tool, where to download it, how you use it, and why you love it. If we publish your suggestion (and if you're the first to suggest it), we'll send you a Cadalyst T-shirt.

SolidWorks World 2010: Clouds, Macs, Movie Making, and More
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CAD Manager's Toolbox: Free Malware Removal Tools
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Make Your CAD Resolutions Stick, Part 2
Following up on your BIM-based plans for 2010 requires strategy, research, and a lot of testing. Read more

Graebert Launches First Native CAD Solution for Windows, Mac, and LInux
ARES offers AutoCAD compatibility, familiar UI, full customization, and 3D support for $495 to $995 on three native desktop platforms, with mobile versions to come. Read more

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