Obstacles to Engineering and GIS


Malcolm and I presented today to the Engineering department showing the beta version of the PortGIS. Integrating Engineering could easily become our most difficult challenge. The major obstacle for us is this: Engineers produce/edit geometry (AKA geographic data, linework), while other departments are focused upon producing/editing table data associated with geometry. For example, Environmental Services would like to manage their Storm Water Inspection database through GIS. Their data will be associated with a point line or polygon (geometry), but they will not be producing/editing the geometry on a regular basis.

I’d like to propose my usual “begin with the end in mind”: I keep thinking about the example of a water utilities network and a task which would ask a question like “If a particular valve is turned off, which buildings won’t get water?” Engineers would be providing us with this data, meaning they would not only need to follow CAD standards but also GIS standards. As you can see, this could quickly become more trouble than it is worth. We have hired Halcrow as a consultant to help develop a sustainable, user friendly approach to this issue. We had a meeting with JW and BW (see Docs #315612) to kickoff phase 2 of this project. They seemed open to the idea of working with ESRI products, but we are depending on them to create a sustainable integration of Engineering drawings in the PortGIS.

I planned on including directions to install the software I showed at the Engineering meeting at the end of this post. The directions ended up being detailed and long winded. Instead, I have decided to include a video, and I promise to get together clear and easy directions to follow for early next week. The PortGIS is currently down due to a server operating system upgrade. Hopefully we can get it going again first thing Monday morning.

MissleOnGE zen


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4 Responses to “Obstacles to Engineering and GIS”

  1. Michael Says:

    I have spent much time researching and developing a long term solution for the Port of Long Beach to resolve the CAD/GIS divide. While Autodesk has a solution to edit ESRI data it does not compete with our ability to do long transactions using Bentley products and keep them in the same standard and schema. It ultimately caused us to switch technologies.


  2. Ari Isaak Says:

    Hi Michael,

    This is a fascinating article and it seems we are attempting to overcome similar obstacles, in particular using GIS as a way to share engineering data across the enterprise. At the Port of San Diego we only use AutoDesk products and it would be a real coup if we were to change over to Microstation. We would love learn more about your implementation. We are very interested in how Ports, especially California ports with more resources than ourselves, are approaching the CAD/GIS divide. Below is a link to a video where you can see our CAD data through our intranet site and another link on the GIS Strategic Plan at the Port of Los Angeles.

    Engineering data viewer through our intranet site

    POLA GIS Strategic Plan

  3. Michael Says:

    Hi Ari,

    Yes, we were mostly Autodesk but our GIS was using Bentley GeoGraphics and ESRI shapefiles. Our IT department had a five year plan and $26mil budget to improve our infrastructure and the CAD/GIS plan was born. It was a difficult road and we are still going through the pains of switching but I don’t think it is any more so than switching from LDD to C3D. The ability to edit my ESRI data stored in SDE is huge.

    See http://www.cadalyst.com/aec/integrated-cadgis-platform-streamlines-infrastructure-engineering-9261

    I would be interested in seeing what the Port of LA and SD are doing. Maybe we can swap site visits someday.

  4. Ari Isaak Says:

    We would love to host you if you’d like to come down to see what we are up to. We are currently in the process of moving to production ArcGIS Server environment and are very interested in the progress you have made and potholes we should try to avoid. I will figure out which of our key stakeholders is interested in taking a field trip to visit you. I will contact you through email in the next few days.

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