Making More of Map 3D: Integrate to Save Time

Making More of Map 3D: Integrate to Save Time

by: Brandon Amick

Recently, we have been working on projects that involve integrating AutoCAD Map 3D with other products to allow for AutoCAD Map 3D to operate as a “One-Stop Shop” for not only GIS but also for asset management.  With the right customization, data can travel back and forth between AutoCAD Map 3D and asset management software or other software without having to switch between interfaces to input data a second time (…or third time).
 

 
One such project involved integrating AutoCAD Map 3D with Infor Hansen to create and update assets in Hansen as they were being created and updated in AutoCAD Map 3D.  There are a variety of ways to accomplish this and our project involved using the AutoCAD Map 3D API and the Hansen web services.  Since this customer was using an Oracle database backend, we collected data from AutoCAD Map 3D as each job transitioned through various job states to pass along into Hansen.  This allowed the customer to utilize the job states within Map 3D to help them create a stable internal workflow process.  Our work resulted in allowing assets to be created in Map 3D and Hansen simultaneously without any additional effort for a seamless workflow and time saved.
 
Another customer called on us to aid in bringing transformer data from NorthStar Harris into the Map 3D environment for the users to view it.  We worked with the SQL Server database for this customer to set up database links between the Map 3D database and the database used for Harris asset management software. This would allow the user to bring in asset management data about their electrical infrastructure using master detail records created in Infrastructure Administrator.

Additionally, we created links to other software called Savage to load the corresponding Savage URL in the user’s web browser and view the data about a transformer or meter. This was completed using the data available from the Map 3D API to construct the proper URLs.  When everything was finished, the user simply had to click a button on the Map 3D form and their web browser would automatically navigate to the correct Savage URL for that transformer or meter.
 
As you can see there are many ways that Map 3D can be used as an all-encompassing software to handle design, GIS, and asset management data all at once.  It can be as simple as adding appropriate fields to your data model in order to track the data that you need to as complex as full plugins that work within Map 3D to synchronize your data from platform to platform.


Upcoming Conferences

Upcoming Conferences

This year has gotten off to a bang for us, and we have many amazing projects underway. But some of our favorite events will be here before you know it! So, check out what we are looking forward to…

Autodesk University


Autodesk University takes place November 14-16 in Las Vegas at the Venetian/Palazzo Resort and Conference Center. AU is the single best conference for gaining insight into the latest from Autodesk users around the world. Join a global community of industry experts, thought leaders, and innovators at AU Las Vegas. Learn how others are pushing design to its limits, shaping industry, and developing success.
 
AU offers many classes and lectures on the various products from Autodesk, and our own Stephen Brockwell has spoken at AU many times! This year, Autodesk is inviting votes for the classes you find most interesting. Here are our entries – please give us a vote if you would like to meet us at AU!
 

 
To vote for this submission, go to http://au.autodesk.com/speaker-resource-center/call-for-proposals/voting and search for “City-Wide.”
 

 
To vote for this submission, go to http://au.autodesk.com/speaker-resource-center/call-for-proposals/voting and search for “Data Aggregation.”
 
And let us know if you are planning on going to AU 2017 as well. We hope to see you there!
 

Esri User Conference


 
We have been working with ArcGIS on more and more projects, and we look forward to attending our first Esri User Conference! The Esri User Conference takes place in San Diego, CA, on July 10-13 at the San Diego Convention Center.
While there, we hope to take some training courses on the ArcGIS interface and learn more about expanding the integration between ArcGIS and AutoCAD. We know we will be inspired to find more ways of bringing the power of GIS to our customers and unlocking the potential of the data they may already have.
 
We especially look forward to visiting with one of the exhibitors, CycloMedia. This company is unique in providing large-scale and systematic visualization of physical environments using specialized technology to collect 360? spherical imagery from a moving vehicle. We are currently working on a few projects with them and we look forward to sharing those with you!
 
Are you visiting any of these conferences or are you attending another conference this year you think we should go to? We would love to hear from you!

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Common Data Migration Issues

Common Data Migration Issues

by: Brandon Amick

There are many reasons your organization might be undertaking a data migration: a change in the platform your data is stored on, a major change in software, or even a change in versions of certain software or hardware might require a data migration. But moving your data is never as easy as it seems. There are a few things you should keep in mind before starting the data migration process.

 

 

  1. Make sure all your stakeholders are on board with making a change. Spend time to determine if it is really the right decision for your company. On many occasions, we have migrated a company from one software to another or one database to another – only to go back and reverse all the migration we had previously done because they hadn’t considered the functionality of the new software or database in their existing environment. Mistakes can happen, and sometimes other circumstances may cause these data reversals, such as an acquisition or a merger, but such errors can be costly.
  2. Making a detailed plan is essential very early on. A thorough study of the new software, the skill level of the users, and potentially a gap analysis between the platforms can help you plan better. It can assist in addressing the upcoming changes in software or platform, create a plan for the management of the upcoming changes, and provide a process to discover any potential pitfalls. Plan, plan again, and then plan some more.
  3. Data almost never behaves the same on two different platforms. No matter how alike two pieces of software are, they will never behave exactly the same. As much as I wish that Oracle and SQL Server would just behave the same way and make my life easier, they simply do not. Anytime you migrate your data, it will almost inevitably have to be transformed. At a database level, you will have syntaxes that are no longer valid and must be rebuilt. On a software level, you may have to translate data because “Middle” worked just fine for your labels before, but now they need to say “Center” to have the correct alignment.
  4. After planning the process of the migration, create a separate plan for when and how the migration will take place. Some of our best data migrations have occurred with customers who know their data and have a plan for how it will be migrated. They have practice migration runs scheduled to predict how long the databases will be down, what personnel need to be on call, and how the actual migration will be run. Some have a “situation room” with staff on hand 24 hours a day so that someone is always available in case of an emergency. This kind of planning can have the best results, but unfortunately is not always an option, depending on budget. The process and time required to migrate data is almost always more involved than most companies realize.
  5. Most importantly, you must have a verification process in place. This is where the practice runs can be extremely useful. It allows you to find issues in the data migration before the real migration occurs. If you have verified multiple times that the data looks good after following the procedures of your migration process to the letter, then you can go into the real migration feeling confident. Your post-migration analysis will show that all your data will look just as it is supposed to.

These are just a few of the more common issues that companies tend to overlook – or are not willing to invest as many resources into – when migrating their data. It really cannot be stressed enough that the more planning, analysis, and verification you put into your migration, the better the results will be in the long run – potentially saving your company money by investing up front rather than repairing costly mistakes later.


Reality Capture: Getting Started

Reality Capture: Getting Started

by: Rick Johnston

Once you have learned about the option of Reality Capture for capturing the best version of your data, you may be asking, “How do I even get started?” In this article, we provide basic background information around starting the Reality Capture process and the equipment involved.

 

To decide on the right equipment, we first need to consider some basic determining factors on environments to be captured:

 

 

If the answers to these determining factors are unclear, it is worth spending some time internally reviewing the requirements or getting advice from an expert. Many devices and applications are available and using the right one for the job at hand is essential.

One of the key determining factors as listed above would be what the captured data will be used for. A design workflow, such as a renovation or as-built? Or a simple visualization of the area and included assets? This determines the data density required for the job; whether you choose high or low point cloud data will determine if a high-end device is necessary, or a mobile device or camera is acceptable.

 

Various types of hardware can be considered for a variety of different projects:

 

There is no “one size fits all” solution, and many factors must be considered. We have listed a few of these factors, but they are all intertwined and there is no simple hard-and-fast solution for every situation. To illustrate this, let’s consider the following scenario.

 

A company needs to capture facility assets. For the most part, these spaces are small (approximately 10′ wide x 20′ long x 9′ high) and congested with wiring and potentially dangerous spaces to be in and to access. The company desires point cloud data to be used in a future design workflow.

 

In this scenario, the most appropriate equipment for the situation is driven by the determining factor of the small and congested spaces they want captured. While a camera would work, the best choice here would be a mobile scanning device, since the aim is to capture raw point cloud data.

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of AMLP.

 

Taking the appropriate considerations into account and understanding what the determining factors are is key to capturing and utilizing a 3D model, regardless of your workflow.

 

Is your organization or department anxious to get started but wants expert advice on how to go about it? We can help! Contact us if you want to get started on reality capture and begin planning and capturing your data.


SynCumulus Field Mapping Application

SynCumulus Field Mapping Application

By: Jessica McCall

In recent months, we have been developing SynCumulus, a web and mobile viewing application. This application allows users a simple GIS view and the creation of inspection records and GPS coordinates, as well as the ability to capture imagery. The SynCumulus solution for web and mobile utility visualization is based on years of experience in consulting with customers across North America. Our approach is uniquely rooted in the simple integration of off-the-shelf components, open source frameworks and enterprise database technology.

 

Here is a quick snapshot of the viewer within a browser window.

 

 

Some of SynCumulus’s features include:

 

Google Maps Integration

Base maps can be provided by Google, and street views and directions are integrated to show visual and test descriptions. Navigation within the map is easy with the simple icons located on the menus, and with the integration of Google Maps, users can find their location and get directions to the next inspection or to a particular feature.

 

 

Data Layers

The layers of data and imagery are published directly from the available data. Currently, this is integrated with the AutoCAD Map 3D display models and produces the same symbols and layers used in the application. In the future, we are looking to make the integration available with other GIS applications.

 

 

 

Mobile Inspection

SynCumulus will feature a list of assets for the Inspector, and the Inspector can enter the inspection data into simplified inspection forms. The Inspector can identify assets in the map that need to be removed or new assets in the field that are not on the map. Updates to the GIS are made via the synchronization architecture, and the Inspection Coordinator can review and promote the assets. Photos can be taken to add observation information to the record.

 

 

Search and Features

The search function allows for a search by Asset ID, which can retrieve the location of and directions to the desired asset. The feature’s properties are available to view upon searching for the asset, and the display allows the user to see asset information, including associated documents and previous inspections.

 

 

Because SynCumulus utilizes Microsoft Sync Framework, we have created our own components that bridge these world-class technologies. Employing these features allows users to work in a connected environment to create real-time updates to the GIS, or in a disconnected environment where synchronization can occur at any point when a connection is available.

 

Several of our customers are implementing this technology right now, and we are looking for other organizations to be among our “beta testers.” If you want to mobilize your field crews to have access to up-to-date information, please contact us. We look forward to showing you how we can make your field operations more efficient.


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Autodesk Authorized Consulting Partner

Brockwell IT Consulting is an Autodesk authorized consulting partner with significant expertise in geospatial asset management and IT architecture for utilities. We have a variety of customizable services to fit your organization and industry. Visit our Accelerator page to learn more.

Looking for Training?

Brockwell IT Consulting can offer general application training or customized training for Autodesk and other utility-industry focused applications. Contact us for more information.

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