Easy import of AutoCAD Civil 3D data into a geographic information system (GIS) using FME from Safe Software is the key to cleaner, richer data for the Township of Langley.
By Cyrena Respini-Irwin
As you likely know all too well, CAD and GIS are "format-rich" disciplines, to put it nicely. With a plethora of file formats — some of them proprietary — and evolving or nonexistent standards, headaches are bound to arise. It can be a daily struggle to move data among applications and coax a menagerie of file types into cooperation.
Data interoperability challenges like these are the raison d'etre for Safe Software's spatial ETL (extract, transform, and load) solution, FME. The 2010 release of FME, which arrived early this year, brought welcome news for anyone who works with AutoCAD Civil 3D data: It can now be translated and seamlessly integrated into geographic information systems. This capability promises time and labor savings for organizations — such as utilities and municipalities — that must maintain as-built data in their GIS to meet federal asset-management requirements and provide field workers with up-to-date information.
One such organization is the Township of Langley, located east of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. Manager of Information Technology Steve Scheepmaker explained that the municipality — geographically larger than its population of some 100,000 would imply — must manage a significant amount of development. Langley maintains as-built data for water, storm water, sanitary, road infrastructure, and other civil engineering projects to comply with reporting requirements imposed by PSAB (Public Sector Accounting Board) 3150, the Canadian federal asset-management mandate.Getting that data into Langley's GIS, however, is no small task. There are two data streams for projects like these — internally and externally generated — and both flow through Langley's Corporate Information Technology department, Scheepmaker explained. There, the data is subjected to quality control and added to the GIS. "We would get Mylar printouts of as-builts — and sometimes CAD files, depending on the consultant — but they were not consistently created," said Scheepmaker; elements might be spread across multiple CAD layers, for example. Wrestling with physical media and nonstandard files consumed many hours of staff time before the introduction of FME 2010. Read more »