At the Bentley Geospatial Keynote

Styli Camateros did a bit of the year in review and two points struck me. First, that Daratech identified Bentley as the number 2 geospatial company, by revenues last year. This gave me pause back then, but he said something that put it in context: “Daratech now looks at the industry more like us.” Geospatial used in engineering is being measured in ways perhaps it was not in the past.

Second, Bentley is innovating not only in technology but also in licensing. Its Municipal License Subscription (MLS) includes local government packages of “all you can eat” software based on population. Some thirty-five cities are onboard with the program. I don’t believe any other geospatial companies have followed suit.

Camateros offered up that infrastructure is different from other things on earth because the build and life spans are long and because the best info about them are in the original design docs. He then listed some of the requirements for “Advanced GIS for Infrastructure” which may sound familiar. Such solutions must:

1) support federated information management (that is, use content in its native form and where it “lives”)
2) be able to model in real world 3D
3) support engineering users (that is, offer a single environment for their need to plan, analyze, design, manage facilities)
4) be open (he noted support for OGC standards and “de facto” standards like Oracle Spatial)
5) support multi-disciplinary projects and teams (that is, allow all team members to use the best of breed solution for their work)

Camateros next set out the product framework. I’ve not been intimate with the Bentley technology stack for a few years, so this was very helpful. At the bottom is the “geospatial desktop” - that’s the Geospatial Extension and Bentley Map, which are to be released later this year. These products are the replacements for what was MicroStation Geographics and serve as a development platform and an end-user mapping solution, respectively. On top of that are the industry applications (for water, sewer, comms, etc.). On top of that is the Geospatial Server (ProjectWise + geosavvy including support for Oracle Spatial) which allows for geospatial document/data management. Other layers that can go “anywhere” include mobile and Web apps. There are also some advanced GIS apps, like Expert Designer for electric and other industries. And, there may be more specialized apps, as well. One thing to note – all of these layers, including the industry apps – are from Bentley. No partner apps are noted.

What followed were detailed demos of Bentley apps for electric, gas, comms, water. I want to confess something: these bored me to tears. But that’s good! Why? They are for engineers, not GIS people like me! In fact, GIS is well hidden in these apps, which underscores how far Bentley as a company has come in finding where “GIS” fits in its offerings.

To wrap up, we heard about the “coming attractions.” They include:

- Support for Oracle’s GeoRaster in Geospatial extension – meaning users have a choice of storing images in ProjectWise or Oracle.
- Native WMS in the Athens (2008) MicroStation release
- WFS support in Geospatial Extension
- WFS/CityGML support in Bentley Map/Geospatial Extension
- Ability to “tile” large 3D projects for fast use in Google Earth

[Disclosure: Bentley covered travel, hotel and meals.]

Published Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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