Home Articles Digital Infrastructure Management – GIS Perspective

Digital Infrastructure Management – GIS Perspective

Mahmoud AL-Hader
Senior Surveying & GIS Facilities Manager
[email protected]

Ahmad Rodzi
University Putra Malaysia


Several master real estate developers start implementing an enterprise GIS project for their world wide projects in order to facilitate the project management processes within the digital infrastructure concept. The potential in the master real estate developers are the scale of the projects and the huge man power that they are utilizing in their real estate development projects. Due to these wide range real estate development activities, a detailed study of the existing systems with all associated database engines and business platforms are need to be tackled. The study aims to build up the model of operating the infrastructure/utility networks frameworks digitally in an automation framework.

Most of the utility enterprise systems are distributing the spatial data with concerned departments across the authorities, but still the interaction is very limited to the specified areas and projects. The interaction in terms of following up the projects status for the top management, while the project managers need to have a common picture about their projects that may requires immediate action.

The construction activities for the facilities such as electricity, water, Gas, district cooling, irrigation, sewerage and communication networks; All of these utility networks need to be fully monitored on daily basis, in order to utilize the huge resources and man power. These resources are allocated only to concave the operational status for the construction and execution sections that will do the required maintenance. The need for a system that will serve all managerial people in following up all these activities with a proper geographical representation will definitely reduce the man power for the long term.

1. Introduction
The research method statement is essentially to modularize the structure of the utilities and create a system for following up the activities electronically. The remote sensing using sophisticated configured sensors will be used to concave the network status in a predefined controlling framework that will support the networks operational platform.

The GIS operational platform will be the base for managing the infrastructure sensors components with the systems interoperability for all related systems. The GIS operational platform will debate all possibilities of systems interoperability such as SCADA systems and digital sensors.

The concentration will be on the available utility networks in order to develop a comprehensive, common, standardized geospatial data models. All feasible ways for managing these networks will be discussed as well as all possible ways to manage it throw the managerial people on the international scale.

The research will utilize the “geographic factor” to tie in all these disparate elements and present a single unified common operational platform, where GIS can be of great support in allowing the users to visualize properties locations, managing all utility infrastructure networks; and onto delivery and maintenance of finished units. The system will be used for managing all available assets in all aspects with all required/feasible systems interoperability. The facility management, projects tracking with all spatial activities will be the core for this research.

The research is an Enterprise GIS utility Solution that is based on utilizing the latest state of the art GIS technology, ensuring efficiency, scalability and integrity in a way that provides an efficient interface for information retrieval and analysis. The research wills shrinkage utmost any discrepancies, duplications and no homogeneity in the existing and future systems.

The implementation of the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is the base of creating the smart concept either in the city or infrastructure level. The idea beyond implementing the ERP is replacing the existing legacy systems and available interfaces into a single functionally rich system application product(SAP). Figure 1shows the Digital Infrastructure Framework The purpose of the SAP is to standardize all possible business models and all operational processes in one platform, SMART GIS/IT, 2007. The economic factor is one of the main objectives of implementing the ERP, which is normally represented in creating the smart services. Most of the smart services either in the personal level or in the scientific research level will be focused on the infrastructure, urban and environmental services. Smart State Council 2006 investigate the issues and constraints experienced by smart services firms, focus groups were held with four sectors:

  • The Infrastructure and Resources Services (including Mining Services)
  • Urban Services (including Design, Planning, Architecture and Construction and Engineering Services)
  • Environmental Services
  • Information Communications Technologies (ICT) Services.

2. Building up an Accurate Infrastructure Utility Geodatabases
Two ways of building up the utility/infrastructure Geodatabase in a suitable way in order to meet the required GIS standard level of accuracy.

The first way is to use the Geophysical surveying technologies; this procedure will take place if the reliability of the data is very poor due to the non standardization of the generated as-built drawings, or due to the non network completeness and oldness. The non standardization obvious in the positional accuracy of the as-built features components rather that the detailed information that need be included in order to reflect the physical status of the network. The Geophysical surveying is the costly and timely consuming way which requires sophisticated equipments and specialized man power to run out the surveying and interpretation activities after words.

The second way is to standardize the data updating of all possible modifications may implemented on the utility infrastructure networks, such as maintaining, upgrading, excavation, relaying and replacement. This procedure is subjected to the level of accuracy of the existing utility infrastructure networks (see table 2). If the positional accuracy is at certain level accepted then the standardization of the data submittals is essential and effective.

The positional accuracy of all utility/infrastructure assets is the base essential component of reflecting the utility infrastructure features into the GIS environment. All available attributes with all associated information’s/documents and photos are need to be attached as well. The database management is extremely important in this kind of applications due to the huge size of databases that might be tackled in one process. The high level of professionalism is required while designing the domains, sub domains and feature ranges during developing the utility infrastructure data models and accordingly building up the master Geodatabase in order to reduce the size of the Geodatabase.

As a result of ever increasing demands on the utility infrastructure, the utility networks are continuously changing with time. This poses an additional challenge for the concerned authorities, which has to track all the changes (in a timely and accurate manner) and upload them in the final GIS platform. Therefore, in order to synchronize the networks changes and keep the digital Geodatabase always updated and current, the need to implement a procedure to standardize the as-built drawing submittal from local contractors, and to make them in a format compatible with the enterprise GIS Geodatabase.

Another aim of this research is to formulate a procedure with standardized data formats, accuracy specifications, and templates that can be implemented by the authorized establishments. As a means to manage the as-built drawings data, generated and submitted by the local utility infrastructure contractors. These data reflect the changes to the utility infrastructure networks that take place throughout the country or project area, on daily basis.

3. Infrastructure AS-Built Data Update Workflow
The utility infrastructure Geodatabase can be created by standardizing the data submittal of the utility infrastructure database, see the figure 2 for more clarity.

The workflow manages the existing utility infrastructure networks, and keeps all the data both the exiting and the new modifications in the same level of completeness, positional accuracy, confidence and data format. The workflow starts when initiates a new request for a service (e.g. maintenance, upgrade, excavation, relaying, replacement, modification, etc.). The Scope of Work (SOW) for the proposed service/construction including the GIS data specifications will be defined. The base maps in digital format which includes GIS data layers of all available databases and existing utility infrastructure networks will be provided. Then prepare the design drawings for the proposed project with all estimations of the Bill of Quantities for budgeting purpose.

Following to that, tender document includes SOW, base map and design drawings (as part of the supplied information) will be released. After short listing the qualified bidders, the project will be awarded to successful bidder(s).

The utilities infrastructure geo-database has to be updated in the same format (and with the same accuracy specifications), in order to maintain the reliability and consistency of the network data, and to maximize the return on investment. Without a standardized the enterprise GIS-compatible updating procedure, the continuous changes taking place in the network will result accumulated backlogs of “incompatible” and inconsistent data (in the form of As-built drawings) structure.

This in-turn necessitates repeated geophysical surveys, which will be both expensive, time consuming, and difficult to manage. The most cost effective way to do the updates will be to ask each contractor to collect the positional coordinates and attribute data of the exposed utilities (after service completion) while the trench is still open. This way only “land/surface surveying” will be required, as opposed to “buried” utilities which require the more expensive and time consuming geophysical survey (by underground detection and tracing techniques).
Obviously, still some additional direct cost involved, particularly for:

  • Surveying of the utilities coordinates (by a certified surveying firm) to meet the accuracy specifications required,
  • Converting the collected coordinates and the attributes into a GIS format compatible with that of the enterprise GIS. This will have to be done by a GIS service provider who is very familiar with GIS, and particularly with ESRI geo-database.

However, the benefits gained in this case far exceed the cost, which is any case will be much less when compared to the option of repeated geo-physical surveys. Figure 2 refers to Infrastructure As-Built Data Update Workflow

4. Landbase Data Specifications
The required data formats and standards in terms of GIS data layers and surveying accuracy standards are extremely important to be taking into consideration before commencing building up the utility infrastructure smart concept. The Geodatabase is the point of reference of all infrastructure activities which will affect the validity of the decisions that might be taken due the clarity of the reflecting the physical status of the networks. A minimal GIS data layers need to be superimposed in the master Geodatabase in order to be able to obviously allocate and analysis the available assets and accordingly take the proper action such as replacement, maintenance and modification. Below is an overview of the minimal GIS data layers with surveying accuracy specifications.

Note: For tracing of the underground network routes (e.g. transmission and distribution lines), must carry out the survey (before re-filing the excavation).

5. References
Smart GIS/IT (2007). The city of cape town in south africa has pursued a ‘smart city’ goal through the integration of GIS with it systems. GEOconnexion International Magazine.

Working Group of the Smart State Council, (2006). Smarter Services Future Jobs and Growth for the Smart State. Accessed in www.smartstate.qld.gov.au

Alexander, Johnston. (2005). Classifying Persian Characters with Artificial Neural Networks and Inverted Complex Zernike Moments. Master Thesis, Imperial College London Faculty of engineering.