Australia: According to KarelCAD, local government engineers are using information systems as a means of increasing their productivity. The main technologies used include Computer Aided Drafting (CAD), which enables fast access, editing and printing of designs.
The limitations of this technology is due to the standards for output is little more than an electronic version of the paper it replaced and therefore lacking the capacity for integration into other corporate applications.
Additionally, engineering data created in this standard limits designers’ ability to lever off other technologies, such as geographical information systems (GIS), to better communicate design, environmental impact and integration within the urban landscape.
While the move from hardcopy paper to CAD was a major step for designers, the way the data is created and stored by many local government designers has remained unchanged for more than a decade.
Traditional CAD is stored in 2D blocks and annotation layers. It is still an accepted standard for laying out subdivisions, road works and reticulated assets. This results in data, which needs to be re-entered and translated prior to reuse by other applications (e.g. GIS).
While any CAD file can be considered better than the hardcopy, the requirements of current applications include interoperability – the ability to reuse data. A fundamental for corporate information systems is the attainment of a single point of truth for data. Simply, as long as the engineering data lacks interoperability, it is an island of information.
Further, the productivity benefits of moving engineering design towards environments that enable data level integration are apparent when considering that up to 80% of all data in a GIS or asset system is created in engineering CAD applications.
Sharing other applications’ data is also beneficial to engineers. For example, the use of GIS data (aerial photography and digital terrain models) has the capacity to reduce project times, reducing road closures and improve predictive modelling such as water flow analysis. Therefore, the toolset for the contemporary design engineer would include the capacity to consume data not traditionally considered CAD.
Future engineering design data will be more in demand, with the shift to the digital urban environment. The current trend is exemplified by Google and Microsoft’s virtual cities. Both companies are currently creating 3D models of the major cities around the world. The data making up these models is typically from aerial images and therefore lacking internal content.