Autodesk University 2004: Las Vegas Valley Water District

By Hal Reid

Autodesk University 2004 sponsored a field trip to the Las Vegas Valley Water District to see an integration of CAD and GIS in action.The Las Vegas Valley Water District is located in perhaps the highest growth area in the country - the population in the area has doubled in the last 10 years.As a result they have to keep up with an abundance of new projects, as well typical maintenance.The District expects to add 160 miles of pipe and 5,000 valves each year, and in 2003 they created 11,000 maps.

Like many local government agencies, the District had the problem of different platforms for different functions within the various groups that make up their water.A major part of the installed base was ESRI for GIS, which included SDE and an Oracle database.They also had a large installation of AutoCAD.

The problem was one of integration and extendibility.The objective was to create a central data store that accommodated posting all of the CAD files from new and finished projects and all the GIS data, and allowed for common posts, extracts and updates from all the entities within the department.The CAD data had to be accessible from within their GIS groups and GIS data accessible from within their CAD groups as well.

Because the District had the existing installation of SDE and Oracle, they decided to use that existing data store and create their own software to allow for posting, extraction and updates from AutoCAD directly through SDE into Oracle.An advantage of this connectivity was that they could extend it to MapGuide, so they could have a means to publish to the web.

Publishing to the web also let the District create wireless links to the field, providing a bi-directional path for redlines.This distribution of data to the field let them upgrade the locational accuracy of their data (now close to two centimeters).Because of the central data store, the turn-around time for redlines being included in updated drawings and posted to the central data store, after approval, was the next day.This field posting could also include GPS points and improved infrastructure positional accuracy.

MapGuide also provided them with a mapping platform to add vehicle tracking, a fairly simple extension to the basic infrastructure.

In any change and upgrade, there is always the question of cost justification.ROI is difficult to determine when you have created services that simply did not exist prior to adding CAD to a central data store, and the inclusion of MapGuide.However, they could easily note they were saving at least 4 to 8 hours per project.In addition, they had far better accuracy in knowing where their infrastructure was located (and timely inclusion of GPS points), they were able to improve the "call before you dig" program (because of more current and accurate data) and now had vehicle tracking.In spite of the extensions they were able to put in place, it couldn't have been done without their base data becoming more current and interchangeable within the District.

The Las Vegas Valley Water District had taken several legacy systems, updated them, found extensions in bringing the field closer to more accurate data and was providing their constituents new services. Sometimes seeing across a problem just needs a little vision.They appear to have more than a little vision in Las Vegas and are well ahead of their problems.

Published Sunday, December 12th, 2004

Written by Hal Reid

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