GIS Tech News (#65)

1 Sep, 2008

Third-Party Solutions Enhance Data Transferp>

New software improves efficiency of data updating and provides an ongoing log of edits and updates.

By Andrew Roe

Andrew Roe

While major CAD and GIS software vendors have improved data exchange processes in recent years, the quest for true interoperability remains somewhat elusive. CAD users seeking to import GIS data must often perform multiple steps to organize data in a usable manner, and GIS users face similar scenarios when importing CAD data.

To bridge the gap, many end users have turned to third-party solutions. The city of Turlock, California, for example, often shares data between engineering and utility maintenance departments to update sewer and other infrastructure data. In the dark ages before GIS and CAD software shared data, field personnel would mark up hard-copy maps to identify lines that were abandoned or needing maintenance, then pass along the information to engineering staff, who would update CAD drawings accordingly. As import/export capabilities of CAD and GIS software improved, electronic data transfer became more practical, but hitches remained. GIS information was often not organized in the proper CAD layers, and attributes such as sewer line conditions were not easily transferred into usable formats.

The city began using FME software from Vancouver, BC-based Safe Software to smooth the process. Utility personnel now add data to GIS mapping using an Autodesk MapGuide interface, which stores the geometry as SDF files and associated attributes in Microsoft SQL Server. These data files are then processed by FME Workbench, which performs logical joining of data and creates DWG files readable by AutoCAD Map 3D. Field notes and other pertinent information about individual sewer lines are saved as object data, with attributes for each line.

In addition to improving efficiency of data updating, the FME processing provides an ongoing log of edits and updates. "It allows everyone to take ownership of their data," said Dan Lourenco, information technology analyst with the city. The electronic updates help users clearly understand what changes have been made and when they were completed, according to Lourenco. 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


Arizona Surveyors Forge Standards

By Jeff Chappell

At one time, surveyors and GIS professionals mixed about as well as oil and water. The relationship between the two disciplines has even been marked by acrimony. But times may be changing. At the heart of the long-running discord are the definitions of what a surveyor is and does, what a GIS professional is and does, and the potential for overlap between the two.

While the definition and certification process for surveyors varies by state, the delineation of a GIS professional is even more amorphous. Furthermore, although some standards for positioning data are commonly accepted throughout the industry, there is no comprehensive, universally accepted set of standards for positional accuracy among surveyors and GIS professionals in the United States. Read more »

Mark Your Calendar: GIS Events

AUGI One-Day CAD Camps
Various U.S. Cities
September 18 - November 5, 2008
AUGI CAD Camps offer a full day of training, expert advice from top instructors, networking opportunities, technology updates, and more. Read more »

GITA 2008 GIS for Oil & Gas Conference
September 21-24, 2008
Houston, Texas
The Geospatial Information & Technology Association's 17th annual GIS for Oil & Gas Conference and Exhibition is the world's largest gathering of oil and gas GIS professionals. Events will include targeted educational sessions, a forum for best practices, a sold-out exhibit floor, networking events, and much more. Read more »

GITA GIS for Oil & Gas Conference — Calgary
November 6-7, 2008
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
GITA's (Geospatial Information & Technology Association's) first conference of this kind in Canada will build on the momentum from the annual U.S. conference. Canada and the United States have significant differences in rules and regulations, and this event promises real solutions to Canada's biggest oil and gas challenges. Read more »

GIS Manager's Workshop
November 20, 2008
Forsyth County, Georgia
Sponsored by Geographic Technologies Group for all GIS managers and IT directors, this event will cover managing GIS, the governance of GIS, the enterprise implementation of GIS, and the business case for GIS. 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.