Archive for the ‘Web Application Tips and Tricks’ Category

Finding Engineering Drawings and Real Estate Documents from the PortGIS Web Maps

March 29, 2011

At the Port of San Diego we have a mixture of enterprise systems which help us manage our data. GIS is the enterprise system which empowers port employees to tackle problems from a geographic perspective. We intend to complement, rather than replace or redo, other enterprise systems at the Port. Our goal is to handle the geography based questions and work in conjunction with the other systems. The PortGIS program is the geography based front-end for our enterprise data.

According to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s Federal Enterprise Architecture framework, 74 percent of government data is location based. At the state and local level the number is even higher – 80 percent – according to several organizations and publications.

Our leases with our tenants live in our document management system, Hummingbird DM 5, in PDF format. They also have an important geographic component. The leases are tied to a piece of land. The concept is also true for our official engineering drawings, which give a comprehensive picture of infrastructure on the Port Tidelands. Below are two videos which show how we can access this enterprise data from the PortGIS web maps.

How to find official engineering drawings from the PortGIS web maps

How to find leases and other important documents from the PortGIS web maps

AdultsWithCollegeDegreesintheUnitedStatesbyCounty Zen


Using the PortGIS Program to Explore the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan (NEVP)

November 9, 2010

At The Port of San Diego, like all public agencies, have hot button issues. The North Embarcadero Visionary Plan (NEVP) is currently our most contentious issue. On August 2, 2010, the These Days program on KPBS radio broadcasted a lively discussion between Irene McCormack of the Port District of San Diego and Don Wood of the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition on the future of “San Diego’s Front Porch.”

Most of the topics discussed were location/geography-based including view corridors down Broadway, overlapping plans for development, and ideas for land use changes on other Port properties. I recorded a video using our internal PortGIS Program, available to all Port employees on Port computers, with the objective of giving a geographic perspective to complement the dialog. The primary goal of this blog is to educate Port employees on the use of our internal PortGIS Program so they can make informed decisions. By utilizing tools, such as GIS, Port employees strive to be as effective, efficient and accurate as possible. This conversation gives us the opportunity to showcase these tools as they relate to NEVP and similar concepts should be used by Port decision makers across the Tidelands.

Click on the image below to watch the video. The video has audio.


If the video isn’t playing click the link below to watch it at

We really have a beautiful resource in the North Embarcadero. I think Don Wood said it best- “It has the potential to be one of the most iconic waterfronts in the United States and in the world if we do it right.” We hope the PortGIS Program will play a role in helping us “do it right.”

KPBS’s coverage

SocialNetworksRTakingOverOurLives Zen

Creating a Tree Inventory Using ArcGIS Server and Google Streetview

March 22, 2010

The benefits of trees cannot be overstated. They provide numerous financial, health and quality of life benefits for our community. The well-being of our urban forest at the Port of San Diego is one of the key resources we manage. The PortGIS Program attempts to identify resources which are advantageous to represent spatially. By placing utilities, proposed projects, the Port Master Plan, the 2010 Tidelands Mapbook, aerial photos and our tree locations within one spatial context we empower our Port employees to make  informed decisions by driving an enterprise-wide common operating picture.  Plans for future development will account for our urban forest resources from the outset if they are included in the primary set of guiding factors. It is much more costly and less likely to occur if urban forestry management is left to expensive last-minute change orders.

Much of the Port Tidelands can be seen through Google Streetview. Some find this disconcerting and an invasion of privacy, but Google Streetview is an invaluable and (IMHO) underutilized tool for creating and managing GIS Data. It can save substantial time and monies by moving expensive field work to the desktop. Managers can easily implement quality control measures by reviewing decisions made in the field by lesser experienced personnel in real-time. Real functionality comes from combining  Google Streetview images and GIS data housed in a Relational Database Management System. This PortGIS Tree Inventory tool is a departure from our other web applications in that it empowers end users to change GIS data. Our other tools are read only.

Below is a video showing how to use this tool.

Beware- GIS Dork Out Session below

From a technical GIS/database/developer perspective, this project started out as a proof of concept. Our goal was to enable our non GIS professionals to easily create, edit and manage a discrete set of GIS data through the web. In order to do this the data needed to versioned and housed within an SDE database. We also wanted to enable security, and grant permissions through Active Directory, so only certain Port employees are able to make changes. Our goals are to continue to build on this functionality and to expand the capabilities of the PortGIS Program. We would like to take this data into the field to collect more information, i.e., standard breast height of our trees and/or take pictures of the trees using a connected handheld device. Taking the PortGIS program mobile will enable us to offer real-time GIS data management to our non-GIS professionals where and when it is most convenient. This way they can use GIS as a tool which complements their primary focus of writing leases, creating architectural renderings, fixing electrical conduits, or making our urban forest as healthy, financially viable and beautiful as possible.

MyFavoritePicOfMy3MonthOldDaughter Zen

Introducing the PortGIS Present Conditions Web Application

October 30, 2009

The new web application PortGIS Present Conditions takes the most valuable aspects of PortGIS Utilities and builds upon them. With this iteration, our view broadens beyond our utilities infrastructure to gain full comprehension of our surroundings as they currently exist. This new web application brings with it a few enhancements, the largest being the integration of new, more accurate reference points to our engineering drawings. RH, as an intern in the Engineering and Construction department, spent many painstaking hours opening scanned record drawings, identifying the location where the majority of work took place, and creating point(s) so we can quickly and easily access them via a map. The PortGIS Present Conditions web application also brings direct access to these drawings, via a clear and organized structure. If you know the IMP site and the record drawing number, you can get to these drawings directly without finding them in the map. Below is a video where I go through accessing these drawings.

CurrentlyBoomingFromGISTeamCubes Zen

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

August 10, 2009

So you’ve just used the PortGIS Program to figure out the distance across Harbor drive is about 66 ft, or you’ve used the streetview tool to identify the utility box which needs to be repaired. But now you want to share this information through email or in a word document. Below is a video showing an easy technique to take a screenshot and do some minor graphic design work. This is only for non-presentation quality maps. If you need a map to include in a report or presentation please contact the proper engineer, architecture  and mapping technician, or the GIS Group. I find this technique saves me time and is more accurate than trying to portray the same information in words. You can also use Snagit instead of Microsoft Paint.

distance across Harbor drive by the B Street Pier is about 66 ft

distance across Harbor drive by the B Street Pier is about 66 ft

electrical box which needs to be repaired

utility box which needs to be repaired

AmazingInaugurationDayPhoneCallMap Zen

So you’ve used the PortGIS to figure something out. You’ve figured out the distance across Harbor drive by the B Street Pier is about 66 ft. Or you’ve used the streetview tool to identify the electrical box which needs to be repaired. Now you want to share this information through email or in a word document. Below is

djgdfsja video showing an easy technique to take a screenshot and do some minor graphic design work. I find this technique saves me time over trying to portray the same information in words.

Using Google Streetview within the PortGIS Explorer Web Application

May 7, 2009

We have all used Google Maps and Google Earth with amazement. Google has done an incredible job of creating engaging and easy-to-use geography visualization tools. Streetview, a feature of Google Maps and Google Earth,  provides a 360° horizontal and 290° vertical panoramic views from a row of positions along streets throughout the world. The Streetview images were collected by a camera mounted on a car or truck; therefore, the images are limited to streets. Below VS (See Docs: 315612) shows us how to use Streetview from within our PortGIS Explorer Web Application.

Data collection is the hardest part of any GIS. Google has collected an incredible amount of ground level information as geospatially referenced images. At the Port, this tool can be used to identify an unfamiliar area or be used as part of QAQC process, but the real functionality comes across when we combine Streetview images and our Port data, such as the TidelandsMapbook2007. For example, with this tool in their arsenal our Land Use Planning Department can explore areas before construction or demolition takes place. Without switching to another system, they could also research adjacent tenants, their frontage, and when their lease agreements expire.

We also wrote a blog post on how to use Streetview from within the Harbor Police Desktop Application based on ArcGIS Explorer. We want to thank ESRI, and the tool’s author, for making it available to the public through ESRI’s .Net ADF Code Gallery. See the links below to learn more about these topics

Streetview in PortGIS Harbor Police desktop Application

More information about implementing this tool:

GoogleStreetViewWeddingProposal Zen

Accessing our Engineering Drawing PDFs from within the PortGIS Utilities Web Application

April 29, 2009

Our PortGIS Utilities Web Application is a useful tool to share our data created in AutoCAD throughout the Port. The data shown is held and managed as .dwg files, which are primarily accessible only by the Civil Designers in our Engineering Department. The output of much of their work are blueprints. It is a reasonable notion to assume that GIS based maps and blueprints can easily be integrated, after all they both show spatial relationships. In order to bring CAD data into GIS our CAD users must follow both CAD and GIS standards. Using CAD data within GIS  is one of the great obstacles we as GIS professionals work to overcome. We are tackling this obstacle 2 different ways 1) We have created a folder, dubbed “the vault” , where CAD data follows GIS standards and 2) We have created a GIS feature and a link to the digital blueprint. This video below shows how we have addressed both of these methods and goes into detail on how to track down blueprints, as PDFs, for projects within Port Tidelands.

WeFinallyFoundTheLostCityOfAtlantis Zen

The PortGIS (Projects) Web Application and Mayor Sanders’ Airport Plan

March 3, 2009

At the Port of San Diego we manage many properties which are under development. Reports and general information about the more substantial projects are prominently displayed on our external homepage, under the heading “Current Development Projects.” Many of these reports include maps which we might want to compare to existing infrastructure for a wide range of reasons. The PortGIS (Projects) web application intends to give Port employees the ability to compare plans for developments which effect Port properties.

In 2003, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority split from The Port of San Diego, but we often have overlapping interests an concerns. Over the years there has been a lot of debate about revamping Lindbergh Field or moving the airport to another location. On February 12, 2009, the Ad Hoc Airport Regional Policy Committee, chaired by San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, released an Executive Summary (docs #354064) outlining their plan for Lindbergh Field. They also released an impressive video simulation. Click the Play button below to hear a KPBS story about the release of this document.

On page 11 of the Executive Summary is a Map titled “Recommended Development Plan.” In the video below I explain how to explore this map in relation to our high resolution aerial photography and our Port interests as represented in the 2007 Tidelands Mapbook.

AreYouReadyForTheFuture Zen

Measure tool in the PortGIS (Beta) Web Application

January 21, 2009

Below is a quick video on the measure tool in our PortGIS Web Application.

We use the infield at Petco Park to show the tools accuracy, but the real power is combining this tool with Port data, specifically the TidelandsMapbook2007 service. The system is set up to answer questions such as; How far is it from the U.S. Pierhead Line from to the parcel leased to the Maritime Museum Association of San Diego?

Lastly, we would like to welcome Vice Admiral Charles Wurster to our Port family. Admiral Wuster was named the Port of San Diego’s new president and chief executive officer. To see the official Port of San Diego Press Release click here.

AwesomeObamaInaugurationInGoogleEarth Zen

The PortGIS (Beta) Web Application

January 4, 2009

Below is a quick introductory video showing how to access and use our internet browser based GIS web application. We created this product to give all Port employees access to our in-house GIS services: high resolution imagery (Aerials2005HalfFoot) and the Tidelands Mapbook (TidelandsMapbook2007). Every computer that has access to the internet has the hardware to use this web page. Unfortunately, this page requires Internet Explorer 7 (IE7). The browser installed on most machines at the Port is Internet Explorer 6 (IE6). You can access this webpage in IE6, but it doesn’t function quite as well. We are in the process of upgrading everyone to IE7, primarily to support the upcoming SAP upgrade. The video below was recorded using IE7. To check which version of Internet Explorer you are using: Open Internet Explorer and goto Help>About Internet Explorer. You can also access this webpage with newer versions of other browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Opera, or Google Chrome.

WhatMalcolmIsListeningTo Zen