Archive for the ‘Status Updates’ Category

Teaching a Class at on the ArcGIS Viewer for Flex at Mt. San Jacinto College

February 17, 2011

I’ll be teaching an 8 hour seminar style class titled Creating a GIS Website using ArcGIS Viewer for Flex on Friday, May 13th. The class will focus on manipulating XML files to quickly get a GIS web application deployed. We will also discuss differences between GIS for paper and web mediums as well as an introduction to server technologies.

This class is just one of the great opportunities being offered as part of the FREE! Friday GIS Workshops at Mt. San Jacinto College. The classes covers a wide range of topics from introduction and technical classes to industry specific GIS applications and integration with other systems.

Considering it is an advanced class, I have received a few questions about what knowledge is needed to take the class. The ArcGIS Viewer for Flex lowers the barrier to entry to quickly deploy a map to the web. It does not require any programming, but it does mean students should be familiar with GIS concepts so they can be applied in a server environment. Below is a link to a 16 minute video which covers many of the concepts in the class. We will go into more detail, but if you can follow along with the video you should be fine.

ArcGIS Viewer for Flex: A Quick Introduction (16 minute video)

Creating a GIS Website using ArcGIS Viewer for Flex flyer

How to sign up

WorldwideDrinkingHabits Zen


Brown Bag Time

August 4, 2010

Today is our brown bag presentation in the Board Room here at the Port Administration Building. This is our big coming-out party and the beginning of our formal efforts to educate Port employees on how they can use the PortGIS resources to get to the answers they are looking for. The GIS group, Barry Ghotra, Malcolm Meikle, Mike Kerr and myself have worked very hard to make this presentation engaging. Below are the videos we used during the presentation.

1) What is GIS

2) Accessing Google Streetview

3) How to Find an Engineering Drawing Based On Location

4) How to Find an Engineering Drawing Based on Data

5) Using the Measure Tool

We decided to focus the presentation on the functionality available through only one of the 4 web maps. There is much more functionality available to Port employees through the Past and Future web maps.  The video below includes a whirlwind tour a tour of the program as whole.

Thank you and PortGIS Whirlwind Tour

July 27, 2010

We wanted to thank our Communications Department for writing an article about our GIS implementation. We are really excited about the new GIS tools available to our Port employees and this is a great way to get the word out. The video below includes a quick tour of the PortGIS web maps and the various data available.

GIS Team Puts Port of San Diego on the Map article

GPSMapArt Zen

Human Computer Interaction and GIS Book Now Available

May 24, 2010

A while back we were contacted by Dr. Muki Haklay about including an image from this blog in his upcoming book, Interacting with Geospatial Technologies. Of course we jumped at the chance to be included in a project of this caliber and importance.

The book focuses upon the intersection between the disciplines of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and GIS. I have only read the first chapter, Human-computer interaction and geospatial technologies-context (detailed review to follow) and I find it particularly fitting as my career evolves from a GIS Desktop user into the realm of web development. I suspect many of our careers, like everything else, is moving toward the web. Many of us are no longer GIS Desktop end users focused upon the creation of static PDFs or paper mediums. We are now web developers, and have to take into account all the factors which can make sharing GIS in this new and dynamic medium successful.

Some of these factors include our users’ technological aptitude, hardware platform, ergonomics and the most intuitive and advantageous way to present our specific type of data. Of course we still need to account for our traditional responsibilities  regarding projections, coordinate systems, subtypes, metadata, data formats and most importantly, license management.

Interacting with Geospatial Technologies at Amazon

Dr. Muki Haklay’s personal blog

Previous %scratchworkspace% blog post about this project

Nasa’sOilSpillGallery unZen

Utilizing the Building Interior Space Data Model at the Unified Port of San Diego

May 6, 2010

First let me introduce myself, I am Brian Mehl, a GIS volunteer intern at the GIS department working since February this year.  This internship fulfills my work experience course GISG 270 for San Diego Mesa College’s GIS Specialist Certificate program, and I expect to complete this certificate next month.  I am excited to be working at the Port with such knowledgeable persons as Malcolm Meikle and Ari Isaak.

The primary task I’ve been working on is taking existing Port CAD drawings of their buildings, such as the eight floor Administration Building on Pacific Highway, and converting these engineering drawings into a ArcGIS personal geodatabase utilizing the ArcGIS Building Interior Space Data Model (BISDM).  ArcGIS data models provide a geodatabase template for importing the data model as a template on which to base a geodatabase, and the BISDM allows a fast start by setting up the feature classes and datasets in a schema or plan, with the real data coming from the Port’s existing CAD drawings.

So why create a geodatabase using the BISDM?  A GIS-based data model will allow the Port to manage and report on the interior spaces of its buildings.  This will provide a basic structure to support a number of different perspectives on buildings – such as architecture, construction, landscape-level planning, facilities management, environmental management, and security/emergency preparedness.  The BISDM database I am working on will benefit the following Port of San Diego departments (at a minimum): Audit, Risk Management and Safety; Engineering – Construction; Environmental Services;  Harbor Police; Information Technology; Land Use Planning; and Real Estate.

Hopefully this introduction will provide you a quick glimpse into my work here at the Port, but I  will get into the geodatabase building process on my next posting.  But to give you an idea of the task at hand, I am working from 19 CAD drawings and have spent 60+ hours so far.  For more information about ESRI’s ArcGIS datamodels, here is a free online course you can take, and a link where you can download the BISDM model among others.

Introduction to ArcGIS Data Models

ArcGIS Data Models

Image From PortGIS to be Included in Upcoming Book on Human Computer Interaction

October 21, 2009

About a month ago, we were contacted by Dr. Muki Haklay about including an image from a previous %scratchworkspace% post in his upcoming book on Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and GIS. Wikipedia describes Human Computer Interaction as, “the study of interaction between people (users) and computers.” Dr. Haklay’s book focuses on the concept of usability, and the 5 E’s of usability: effective, efficient, engaging, error tolerant and easy to learn.

There is no question that our relationship to computers has changed the way we live our lives. Many of us carry around Blackberrys, own GPS units, have 2 or more computer screens and/or ergonomic keyboards. However, Even before computers entered our lives, we related to text or traditional data differently than maps/geography/geospatial data. Before computers, we related to text through a book; for some reason I envision a 1000 page copy of Tolstoy’s War and Peace as the ultimate method of conveying text.


Before computers, we had databases indexed by number (AKA unique keys).


And we had atlases, globes and wall maps. Physically each of these are drastically different. How hard would it be to read War and Peace if it was printed on a card catalog or a globe?

Computer software and hardware should be designed to make our lives easier. Thinking about HCI as applied to GIS is very interesting combo. At our world-class Port we have concerns like: What is the best way to design GIS software for use on a touch screen in our Harbor Police vehicles? What is the best way to share our aerial photos with AutoCAD users?

We want to congratulate Dr. Haklay, and his fellow authors, on submitting the manuscript for the book “Interacting with Geospatial Technology,” and we are very excited we could play a small part in the book’s success. Most importantly we look forward to reading it and learning from his research.

If you’d like to learn more about the book I suggest reading this post at Dr. Haklay’s personal blog.

You can also preorder it from the Amazon UK site here.

MaldivesPolitics Zen

Port of San Diego Presenting at the 2009 ESRI User Conference

June 16, 2009

Malcolm Meikle and I have been offered the opportunity to present at the 2009 ESRI Users Conference. We will present our paper, “Creating an Enterprise GIS at the Unified Port of San Diego” alongside Fei Wang of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates Dulles and Reagan Airports in the Washington D.C. Area. Below is a link to the session details.

The focus of our presentation will be the technical details associated with implementing the PortGIS program. Here at %scratchworkspace%, we would like to further elaborate on the philosophy and concepts which drive the PortGIS program.

“How … can port managers and engineers best identify and prioritize projects among competing demands? We believe the key to successful port engineering is the integration of vital infrastructure information in a robust and functioning Geographic Information Sytstem (GIS). Regardless of the type of port facilities, similar basic facilities data is maintained, often in hard copy format only. Property surveys, facility base maps, soil-boring data, building plans and facility as-built drawings are fairly common types of records maintained by port engineers. All of such data can be reference and tied together using a spatial context – thus creating a geographic port data framework.

Applying an integrated GIS to a port offers facility management professionals the opportunity to catalog this disparate information using established standard and data conventions. The cataloged data can then be managed according to parameters set by the users to provide better integration of information and yield better decision support products. Information is no longer fragmented or isolated, and multiple data types and scales start providing critical and usable correlations to support both short-range and long-term decision making processes.”

From the book: Application of GIS Technologies in Port Facilities and Operations Management
Neal T. Wright and Jaewan Yoon
American Society of Civil Engineers
Ports and Harbors Committee

By using geography/place/location as the common factor it will allow us to bring together data that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to integrate. These tools have been available for a long time through proprietary, expensive and hard-to-learn GIS software. The ubiquitous nature of the internet and the web browser has given us the platform to share this data across the enterprise, touching every Port employee and every Port computer through a wide variety of clients, including ArcGIS Software, ArcGIS for AutoCAD, Mobile Devices or a plain-vanilla web browser.

The Dewy-Decimal System and our Port Geographic Information System (PortGIS) are used to answer questions, or in computer lingo-make a “request”. “Where are Vietnamese Cooking books?” is analogous to; “Show me the aerial photo for Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal?” The server works on the question and sends a “response”, or answer to our question. In our example the answer is the image which renders on your screen.

Our goal is to assist in streamlining the workflow at the Port of San Diego by identifying the tasks/questions/requests which are most advantageous to approach from a geographic perspective. By customizing the GIS interface we intend to empower all Port employees to independently accomplish substantial and consequential geography-based work.

Managing and Expanding an Enterprise GIS Session at the 2009 ESRI User Conference Details

NaturalResourcesbyCountry Zen

Introducing the 2009AerialsFourInch Service

May 29, 2009

Aerials are an integral part of any well rounded Geographic Information System. Aerials can be used as a great base to provide a context for other data, as part of a quality control effort, or as the source to create new data.

Our new 2009 aerials were flown between 11:20AM and 12:30PM on April 17th, 2009. They are 4 inch resolution meaning each pixel correlates to 4 inches by 4 inches (16 square inches) on the ground. Our new aerials are the highest quality I have ever worked with. They are on-par with the best aerials available today. Below is a table comparing some of the variables between the 3 main aerials we use here at the Port.

Aerial Service: I3_Imagery Prime_World_2D 2005AerialsHalfFoot 2009AerialsFourInch
Source: ArcGIS Online Port Port
Date Taken: 3/15/2008 in Port Area 2005 4/17/2009
Coverage: Worldwide 52.5 Sq. Miles covering Port Tidelands 48.7 Sq. Miles covering Port Tidelands
Resolution: .3 Meters (≈1 Foot) in Port Area Half Foot Four Inch
Ground Pixel Size: 12 x 12 = 144 Sq Inches 6 x 6 = 36 Sq Inches 4 x 4 = 16 Sq Inches

Below are 2 images showing measurements of one side of each pixel.

2005 Pixel Measurement

2005 Pixel Measurement

2009 Pixel Measurement

2009 Pixel Measurement

This is all great, but how does this correlate to the real world? Below are the 3 images of the Administration Building Parking lot. As you know the parking lot was recently repaved and reorganized.

2003 Parking Lot

March 2008 .3 Meter Resolution

2005 Parking Lot

2005 Half Foot Resolution

2009 Parking Lot

April 2009 Four Inch Resolution

Along with our parking lot there have been other changes on or around the Port tidelands since 2005, including the new Hilton between the Convention Center and Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.

Left 2005 - Right 2009

Left 2005 - Right 2009

We have set up a web application where Port employees can examine the new aerial photos. You can get to this web application by clicking on the 2009 Aerials button at the PortGIS Resource Center. They are much larger images and therefore take a second or two more to render on your screen. Feel free to turn on and off layers in the “Map Contents” area. We hope to include them in the other PortGIS applications shortly.

CoolOldMap Zen

NorthSouth GIS at the Port of San Diego

April 5, 2009

Last Wednesday we had a visit from Daniel Elroi and David Pimblott of NorthSouth GIS. We got their attention through a blog post we wrote about a month ago. In January 2008, NorthSouthGIS wrote a document titled “The Port of Los Angeles Port Police GIS Strategy Project”(DM#: 348668). This document outlines steps to implement a world-class Enterprise GIS at the Port of LA, including specifics such as which software suites to use and skills to look for in new hires. We are very interested in the progress the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) is making toward the development of their GIS program. POLA is much larger than the Port of San Diego (POSD), but has many of the same obstacles and objectives. Today, we held a meeting where Daniel and David met with key representatives of various departments at POSD. Port Employees representing Information Technology, Land Use Planning, Engineering, Environmental, Harbor Police/Dispatch, and Homeland Security were there. For all who were present, the meeting was an opportunity to discuss the future goals and possibilities of the POSD GIS program. Before Daniel and David started their presentation I took the opportunity to describe where we are in the process of creating a truly Enterprise GIS. Below are my notes and videos on the current GIS functionality available to everyone on our internal network.

Our current full blown enterprise systems at the Port are Docs Management and SAP. Creating an Enterprise GIS System will help create a common operating picture from a geographic perspective across the Port from General Services to Real Estate and from our interns clear up to our CEO. There is no longer a costly piece of software, minimum hardware requirements or years of technical experience blocking access to basic GIS functionality. Our goal now is to understand the workflow of Port Employees and how this system could be best utilized to them be more efficient and accurate. One important  point about this system that should be mentioned is that the Enterprise GIS System is currently only an internal product. Only those who have access to our other Enterprise systems, DM and SAP, have access to this system. This system is not being shared with any outside organization.

[Play video one] This is the PortGIS Resource Center. You will be able to get here from a clear icon on the internal homepage. The PortGIS Resource Center is the central gateway to access GIS information at the Port of San Diego. From here you can access web mapping applications designed specifically for various tasks and departments. At the PortGIS Resource Center IT staff will also have a streamlined method to help end users (you) through the process of installing software. Users can also send us an email or check out the GIS blog. All of the GIS web applications are still in Beta, meaning they can’t be counted on to be up and running all the time, but they are of a high enough quality to expose users to their capabilities.

[Play video two] This GIS web application is called PortGIS Explorer. At this site a user can access our high resolution aerial photos and the tidelands mapbook, which represents our overall geographic interests at the Port of San Diego. A user can navigate to see precisely the information they need. They can turn on and off layers and create images to include in reports and emails. They can learn specific information associated with the geographic features on display allowing them to answer questions like: “Who is the Master Tenant at this location?” They have the capability to measure distances between two or more points and measure areas. Questions this might help users answer are: “How long is the runway on the Midway? Or, what is the area water between the Navy Pier and the Broadway Pier?” We also have included a link to utilize Google Streetview. This tool allows users to access ground level images from within the GIS environment.

[Play video three] The second GIS web application is called PortGIS Projects. It is a full port effort to work through our large development effort which effect land we manage. This application includes the full functionality of the PortGIS Explorer application, but it also includes georeferenced maps from important documents. The ability to measure distances or compare these plans to the tidelands mapbook will create a common operating picture as departments move forward. Currently we have maps submitted from Destination Lindberg, the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan and the Old Police Headquarters and Park Project. If you would like to include a map from a report it is as easy as clicking on the “Add a Map” link and attaching it to your email.

[Play video four] The last GIS web application I’d like to introduce is called PortGIS Utilities. This web application is intended to be the central clearing house for our utilities data. The particular utilities included are: Electrical, Fire, Natural Gas, Fuel, Molasses, Oil, Sanitary Sewer, Storm Drain, Tallow, Telephone, Water, Chemical, Fiber Optics and Communication Lines. It is built upon the familiar PortGIS interface and is live data, meaning as our Engineers update this data it is updated in this page. Not only have we included the linework on the map, but Halcrow has also helped us to integrate the extent of our record drawings PDFs. These PDFs can be accessed from inside the PortGIS Utilities Web application. Instead of our engineers working with a file system to structure their data, the data will now be spatially indexed so they can find it more easily. It also will allow our engineers to share this data with the rest of the Port. General Services and Port Police are very interested in learning how to access this information quickly and efficiently.

PortGIS Status

December 9, 2008

This blog is intended to be the primary place to communicate directly with Port of San Diego employees as we implement an Enterprise Geographic Information System; known as PortGIS. A secondary audience includes GIS Professionals and others wishing to implement a similar program. We look forward to receiving comments from both Port employees and those outside alike. Below is a list of products that we are currently working on and their status. This is a dynamic list which we will update as changes occur.

Built on ArcGIS Explorer (Must have 1GB of RAM and OpenGL Video Card)
PortGIS (500Beta)- All employees, ready to use
PortGIS (500Harbor Police)- Finished, but not yet deployed

Browser Based (Must have Internet Explorer 7 or comparable browser)
PortGIS (Beta)- ready to use, accessible from PortGIS link on Internal home page
PortGIS (Engineering and Construction)- in development
PortGIS (Environmental)- in development