‘Organisations should look at convergence of technology’

‘Organisations should look at convergence of technology’

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AutoCAD Map 3D mapping software provides access to data needed for infrastructure planning, design and management activities.

Liam Speden
Liam Speden
Product Line Manager, Infrastructure Solutions
Autodesk

Kindly elaborate on Autodesk’s products and solutions for geospatial practices
AutoCAD Map 3D mapping software provides access to data needed for infrastructure planning, design and management activities. It helps professionals working on transportation, land development, water and power projects. It enables them to more easily aggregate cadastral, utility, topographic, environmental, image, LiDAR and asset data to better visualise and evaluate existing conditions. It is built on the latest AutoCAD software and provides direct access to data needed for infrastructure planning, design and management activities.

Autodesk Topobase enables organisations working in the transportation, land management, telecommunications, water and power industries to see the big picture, promoting a reduction in backlogs and improvement in operational efficiency. Autodesk Topobase is an open framework that adheres to the specifications set forth by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and is designed for easier customisation. As a result, Topobase supports specific data requirements and business processes—data fields, workflows, business rules, dialog boxes, and user access permissions—without software programming or database expertise.

Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise software is a powerful infrastructure mapping tool for delivering CAD and geospatial information quickly, easily and cost-effectively on the web. It helps maximise value of design and spatial data by enabling information sharing with customers and internal teams, as well as integrating with enterprise applications. Autodesk MapGuide harnesses the innovation of a broad community of developers, backed by commercial-grade quality assurance and support. Simple to develop and deploy, Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise provides a powerful API (application programming interface) for creating spatial applications, support for multiple development environments and direct connectivity with a wide range of data types that help ensure easy access to information organisation-wide.

Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise lets users develop and deploy web-based applications that quickly and easily distribute spatial and design data. The enhanced functionality include:

  • Improved rendering options allow the use of multiple rendering engines; GD and AGG to render the AJAX based maps.
  • Users can publish elevation data from AutoCAD Map 3D software directly into MapGuide Enterprise for use in Web mapping applications.
  • Improved support for custom symbology and line-styles that enable richer cartographic map output in Web mapping applications.

Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise offers more powerful and uniform expression support. It includes a more powerful expression language and a robust set of functions that work across all Feature Data Objects (FDO) data providers. It also incorporates Flexible Web Layout Templates. Some of its features include:

  • The new Flexible Web Layout technology helps accelerate the development of web mapping applications created with MapGuide Enterprise 2009 and MapGuide Open Source 2.0.
  • Flexible Web Layout templates and application code “widgets” help separate design and development tasks and serve as building blocks for both Web designers and application developers to create rich Web mapping applications.
  • Flexible Web Layout includes support for:
    • Overview maps
    • Improved tools for selection measure
    • Feature digitising

Autodesk MapGuide Studio software, the authoring environment for Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise software, now supports creation of applications with Flexible Web Layouts and makes it easy for developers to switch between a set of design templates and click-and-drag application functionality options and offers better performance and stability. Some of its features include:

  • Faster, more scalable resource database that improves performance on complex and large scale enterprise implementations
  • Native Integration with web servers as an ISAPI extension for IIS and Apache Module for Apache Web Server, which improves the stability and performance of applications
  • Better interactive selection and new and improved API functions resulting in quicker responses and a better user experience

Autodesk Topobase software, built on AutoCAD, AutoCAD Map 3D and Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise software, stores design and spatial information in centralised database, providing engineering, GIS and field operations teams with easy access to accurate asset information. Autodesk Topobase has over 50 new utility features, including wastewater inspection workflows that integrate network management and video, network schematic generation and the ability to visualise the inside of network structures, such as transformer stations. It also works with more versions of Oracle databases, and includes specialised l modules for managing water, wastewater, gas and electric assets, all in onebox.

Which sectors are the prominent users of your geospatial products and solutions? What are their specific demands?
The sectors that are largely served by the geospatial industry are utilities, government infrastructure, airports and transportation. Organisations that are adopting geospatial software applications have to clearly look at converging these applications with their Design/CAD applications as well as their core business applications to extract maximum benefit out of their investments.


With the new breed of young (or even not so young) tech-savvy professionals in responsible positions in key stakeholder organisations now, we already see a considerable change in the functioning of most of such organisations. This definitely augurs well for the future. A lot of that credit must also be given to the top management and senior government officials in such successfully run organisations for having realised the need to drive adoption of new technologies like Autodesk GIS solutions that will help them improve their productivity and put a smile on the faces of their consumers and end users. Many government organisations are now on fast track to digitise all their data and create base maps. The governments at central, state and local levels (for instance municipal and town planning organisations) as well as many international aid agencies are also actively involved in departmental reforms across India. Considering the size and diversities in India, this change is a slow process, but the good news is that we are moving in the right direction.

In near future, one can surely expect a digital transformation in government organisations. For starters, the ones in the metro and major cities will definitely show a drastic change in the way they function. The pressure on them to change and improve is immense and the only way they can do this quickly is by adopting technology at a speedy pace. However there is more that can be done in the space to measure up to global standards.

What are your future plans?
I would prefer to answer the question from an Autodesk business perspective as well as an industry perspective.

From a business perspective, few years back, we had set some ambitious targets for ourselves from a revenue growth stand point as well certain key qualitative parameters; while a large part of which have been achieved, there are areas wherein we need to gear up. We have looked at certain key industry segments to focus on. We have invested in developing our capacity and capability in reaching out to all these customers and serve them well. The good news is that these investments have been paying off well in the immediate term and will continue to help us grow over the medium and long term. However our real growth lies over the next three to five years because I don’t think we have yet reached out to all the folks out there who need high-precision yet user-friendly geospatial tools that so effectively combine CAD and GIS, great Infrastructure modelling tools that we offer at Autodesk AEC.

Secondly, on the growth of the industry- the question needs to be answered in two parts. First is, where will the revenues grow amongst the mature industries and/or segments? And second -which are the high growth areas where the current usage is low? So, let me address these two separately.

Matured markets that will continue to be a large source of revenue, will essentially be utilities, telecom and government infrastructure, because these are areas that will continue to be big focus areas in years to come. A few catalysts, for instance, development of infrastructure for the international events like Commonwealth Games and other such events have spur large investments in these segments. An emerging high growth area that we clearly see for the infrastructure design and geospatial industry is sustainable design in urban cities.

You might have observed there are already quite a few initiatives in this area, both in India and elsewhere, and especially in cities that have a combination of a lot of as-built data as well as where there is a need to refurbish and build a lot of infrastructure. Autodesk AEC business unit has taken a substantial step in this regard in helping the city of Salzburg, Austria, in creating a digital city model. The basic idea is to create 3D digital city infrastructure design on a high precision geospatial platform. These are just some of the new growth areas for infrastructure mapping technology and I think these may be good paths for India to adopt and move forward.

Other areas where there is substantial potential are mobile computing and sales force automation. Last but not least, the power and telecom sectors continue to be big growth drivers that are very effectively leveraging infrastructure mapping data for significantly improving customer service levels and their ability to offer a lot of value added services that helps them stand apart from competition for sectors that have been privatised or corporatised.

We are very upbeat. Infrastructure mapping technology is surely a key focus area at Autodesk. In my personal opinion, this technology has the potential to become as ubiquitous and as popular as office automation software, ERP or CRM. In fact, vis-à-vis the revolution that we saw the IT industry go through over the last 10-15 years back, this industry may be poised for a similar revolution over the next 3 to 5 years. But having said that and may be at the risk of being repetitive I would reiterate that if we really want to make a success out of this technology, it would be through a tight convergence with mainstream IT so that users can optimise and leverage the huge investments that they have been making, both on GIS and IT.