Wedding bells for GIS and CAD

David Banasiak / December 28, 2000

A geographic information system (GIS) is based on the concept of using geography
as the common denominator for linking data. These systems support the acquisition,
management, analysis and presentation of this spatially referenced, data
as well as its connection with textual data from multiple databases. It
is predicted that GIS software revenue will exceed $1 billion for 1996.

As the use of GIS grows, many users are finding a need to combine GIS and
CAD. For example, city and land planners use engineering maps to perform
GIS analysis; however, existing GIS systems operate separately from CAD
systems. This division forces users to maintain two separate systems and
databases. Work done in GIS often must be redone in a CAD system. It is
obvious that a marriage between the two systems would alleviate many headaches,
and save time and money. The industry has been aware of this need and both
Autodesk and Bentley Systems have worked to fill it.

For the past several years Autodesk has been supplying add-on software for
its AutoCAD system to allow work between GIS and CAD. For instance Autodesk's
ArcCAD brings GIS query, display and analysis tools into AutoCAD software.
Autodesk continues to develop new software and plans to begin distribution
of its new AutoCAD Map software in June or July. While users await the delivery
of this new product they can always customize their current AutoCAD software
to fulfill their specific needs.

The conversion of the San Francisco Presidio from military base to national
park is one project that benefited from the integration of GIS and CAD.
To facilitate the planning process and support future operations, the National
Park Service Presidio Transition Team developed GIS, referred to as the
Presidion Graphic Management Information System (PGMIS). The PGMIS is built
around three major components: AutoCAD; Facility Mapping Systems' FMS software;
and dBASE 4, Borland International's database&shyp;management system.

The PGMIS delivered more than the transition team had hoped for. More than
100 large displays and booklets were prepared to facilitate the planning
and public&shyp;participation stages of the project. The PGMIS also cut
costs and saved thousands of hours in the planning process. It promises
to be as successful with future maintenance and upgrading of the site.

Bentley Systems conducted a survey of GIS users in which they were asked
what feature they consider most important when selecting GIS software. Fifty-one
percent said they look for software to be integrated with CAD. Yoav Etiel,
vice president of product marketing at Bentley, comments, "CAD and
GIS both offer wonderful benefits, but the wall between them is painfully
expensive, counter-productive, and now outdated. Clearly, user organizations
want integrated CAD and GIS, planners want engineering accuracy, and engineers
want planning and mapping capability."

To provide what users want Bentley announced, at its GeoEngineering Summit
in February, the availability of an integrated GIS, CAD software, called
MicroStation GeoGraphics. The word GeoEngineering was coined by Bentley
to discribe the developing market of unified engineering and planning made
possible by integrating GIS and CAD.

In MicroStation GeoGraphics, Bentley fully integrated its CAD technologies
with the new product's GIS capabilities, thus offering a GeoEngineering
solution. Peter Huftalen, Bentley's director of GeoEngineering products,
comments, "This is the first true integration between the two (GIS
and CAD)."

MicroStation GeoGraphics is based on Bentley's MicroStation giving the product
the visualization, imaging, programming, data&shyp;management and multiplatform
capabilities of MicroStation. GeoGraphics also is compatible with the range
of MicroStation products, sharing the same look and feel and file formats.

It also offers users their choice of platforms including DOS, Windows, OS/2,
Windows NT for Intel-based and DEC Alpha AXP computers, the Macintosh and
Power Macintosh, Sun SPARC, HP RISC, SGI, Intergraph Clipper and the IBM
RS series machines.

Another important development in the new GeoEngineering market also occured
at the GeoEngineering Summit with the annnouncment that GEOPAK, a developer
of civil engineering software, will become Bentley's strategic affiliate.
In this role GEOPAK will collaborate with Bentley in the area of GeoEngineering
products including integration between GEOPAK products and MicroStation

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