GIS Tech News (#62)

14 Jul, 2008

Model Citizens

Salzburg, the first of Autodesk's Digital Cities, breaks ground on a new kind of 3D model.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

One of the highlights of February's Autodesk World Press Days event was a shimmering vision of data integration: 3D models that unite GIS, CAD, and BIM data to depict cities in their entirety, above ground and below. Autodesk Director of Technology Geoff Zeiss spoke passionately about evolving beyond the capabilities of Google Earth or Virtual Earth, enabling users such as first responders to zoom inside buildings, not just fly among them.

Last week, that glimpse of the future was proven to be more than a mirage: Autodesk announced that Salzburg, Austria, is the first pilot city of the company's Digital Cities initiative. According to Autodesk, it will work with both the city and Salzburg University's Centre for Geoinformatics (Z_GIS) to create "a collaborative environment for visualizing, analyzing, and simulating the future impact of urban design and development at a city-wide scale."

The first step is to develop "professional use cases," said Autodesk senior director and industry evangelist Doug Eberhard, to determine how the model will be used by various stakeholders. In addition to many city departments, the design community, media, and other sectors of the public will employ the finished tool.

The initiative team will then turn its attention to technical questions, such as how to store terabytes of highly detailed model data and stream it to the Web. Also, the platform must ensure interoperability with the myriad data formats used in GIS, engineering, and design. Eberhard explained that although digital models are already in use, the likes of SketchUp and Google Earth don't provide the long-term data and asset management capabilities needed for a "professional-strength" digital city platform. Read more »

Editor's note: This article also appeared in Geospatial Solutions Weekly newsletter (July 11, 2008).       

Bentley and Autodesk Combine Efforts

By Kenneth Wong

Autodesk and Bentley Systems, two CAD giants with architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) software portfolios, are joining forces for mutual benefit. At a joint press conference on July 8, Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems, and Jay Bhatt, senior vice-president, Autodesk AEC solutions, told reporters their companies would begin exchanging software libraries and application programming interfaces (APIs).

Sharing their vision in an announcement, the companies wrote, "For instance, a design team could use a mixture of Autodesk and Bentley software, such as Autodesk's Revit platform and Bentley's STAAD and RAM structural products, and simulate and analyze their designs or manage project information using Autodesk NavisWorks software or Bentley's ProjectWise."

Though Bentley and Autodesk both market their products to the AEC segment, Bentley is also one of Autodesk's largest development partners. As two rival AEC software merchants take their relationship to a new level, Bentley's commitment to the Open Design Alliance (ODA), a nonprofit industry consortium, is called into question. Read more »    

Mark Your Calendar: GIS Events

Webinar: Rapidly Connect and Share Your World
July 16, 2008
11 a.m. EDT
This webinar will highlight ERDAS TITAN, a geospatial data bridge providing access to multiple public and private data resources, and enabling that data to be accessed in a variety of desktop applications. Read more »

GeoWeb 2008
July 21-25, 2008
Vancouver, BC, Canada
GeoWeb welcomes both public and private organizations to meet, discuss, and learn about today's most innovative geospatial technologies and the possibilities related to this important technological shift. Read more »

2008 ESRI Survey & Engineering GIS Summit
August 2-5, 2008
San Diego, CA
More than 400 surveyors and engineers will meet to see how GIS software integrates with surveying and engineering tools to provide more complete business solutions and field processes. Read more »

Cadalyst's complete list of upcoming events is always available on our Web site. Our sister Web site,, also offers a full calendar of GIS-related events.