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April 2, 2018
Wedding bells for GIS and CAD
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 database­p;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 public­p;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, data­p;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 GeoGraphics.

About the Author

David Banasiak

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