Water utility maps out CAD-GIS gap

Victorian-based utility City West Water (CWW) has implemented a new Computer Aided Design (CAD) application and Geographic Information System (GIS) to bridge proprietary formatting problems.

The accuracy of mapping data created by engineers in CAD was lost when it was transferred to GIS. This is because outdated proprietary file formats were being used.

GIS systems often use inferior technology to CAD apps forcing staff to refer to original material, according to West Water manager of asset information engineering Grahame Anthonsen.

Anthonsen said the CAD and GIS solution, will replace GE's SmallWorld GIS.

It will take a year for the systems to be fully operational.

"The project will take between 12-14 months [to complete]; we are in the process of undertaking data modeling and confirming specifications," he said.

"Staff training is expected to take place in the middle of next year."

Anthonsen went through an exercise of examining the functionality required from a GIS and identified four primary objectives: openness and flexibility to allow easier accessibility to the system; integration with other systems; data analysis tools; and spatial data display tools.

He said the edit environment in CAD is used to input information so access will be restricted to the asset information section, while the 'view' environment will be available to every employee through the Internet.

Field crews will have access to a mobile version built into maintenance trucks.

The Autodesk and Open Spatial solution comprises AutoDesk Civil3D which uses data validation program Munsys to maintain data integrity during GIS transfer.

Web-based GIS application Enlighten, by Open Spatial, uses AutoDesk MapGuide to render vector-based map graphics such as aerial photography and contours within a browser, while storing spatial data within Oracle (which also contains billing and customer service data) using an Open GeoSpatial format.

Open Spatial Australia managing director Anthony Jahshan said while a CWW-Open Spatial team will provide training, consultancy firm LogicaCMG will assist with improving database architectures.

Project costs were not disclosed.

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