GIS Tech News (#63)

4 Aug, 2008

Bringing GPS Data Quickly into CADp>

Software lets users collect and upload field data into AutoCAD using handheld consumer GPS units.

By Andrew Roe

Andrew Roe

Land professionals seeking to quickly obtain field data often encounter a common dilemma: When public domain mapping lacks detail and an accurate field survey is not feasible, how do you roughly locate selected field points without burning up valuable budget? For example, when a grove of trees is not properly depicted on outdated aerial mapping, but a detailed tree survey is not needed, how can you generally define the outline of the trees and bring that data into a CAD drawing?

Short of sending out a survey crew, engineers and planners have historically used various techniques employing tape measures, electronic distance meters, and old-fashioned pacing to establish distances and determine rough locations of key points. But to use the data in a CAD environment, the information needs to be reduced somehow to points or other objects with coordinate values.

With GPS capabilities growing in recent years, many have turned to simple recreational GPS equipment to obtain field data. And a new software release from a small Arizona company is helping smooth the exchange of GPS and CAD data. GPS2CAD, developed by Phoenix-based AMC, allows users to import data from a variety of handheld GPS units into AutoCAD, as well as export AutoCAD points back to the GPS units. A new feature also enables plotting of points on custom images, such as those obtained from Google Earth.

Environmental Benefits
The simple GPS2CAD interface has saved significant time and effort in recent years for Boylan Environmental Consultants of Ft. Meyers, Florida. "It helps us locate things like wetlands and protected species habitats," such as gopher tortoise burrows, said Brian Marino, Boylan's information manager. Boylan's preliminary field work is often later supplemented by detailed surveys to more accurately determine easements and legal boundaries, but for preliminary planning and site map preparation, GPS2CAD has proven invaluable, he said. The company has used other GPS transfer programs, but settled on GPS2CAD for its simplicity, Marino added. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Andrew G. Roe is a licensed civil engineer and president of AGR Associates. He is also the author of Using Visual Basic with AutoCAD, published by Autodesk Press. E-mail him at


Building a Better World in GeoWeb 2008, Part 1

By Kenneth Wong

The geospatial community is hard at work building a new world. It's a world that's eerily familiar to us, because it's a digital replica of the one we live in.

Ron Lake, chairman and CEO of Galdos Systems, uses the term GeoWeb to express the ability to locally and globally integrate and share geospatial information via the Internet. In some ways, the GeoWeb is more manageable and a lot easier to navigate than the physical world. Linked to relational databases, user-created content, and search engines, the digital world lets you go beyond the facade of the superstructures and substructures around you. It gives you neighborhood crime statistics, property values, historical context, nearby bars and restaurants, and Wikipedia entries related to the features.Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: GIS Events

Civil Engineering and Road Design Seminars
August 26-28, 2008
Various Cities in Florida
These seminars, presented by DLT Solutions, will show how an entire project team can stay coordinated throughout all phases of a project, from surveying to construction documentation. Read more »

GIScience 2008
September 23-26, 2008
Park City, Utah
GIScience brings together scientists from academia, industry, and government to explore emerging topics and basic research findings across all sectors of geographic information science. Read more »

Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting
March 22-27, 2009
Las Vegas, Nevada
The AAG 2009 meeting will welcome 8,000 geographers, GIS specialists, and environmental scientists from around the world for the latest in research, policy, and applications in geography, sustainability, and GIScience. 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.