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May 17th, 2013
Surveying Companies Discuss Rapidly Changing Infrastructure Workflows


Ray O’Connor, president of CEO of Topcon Positioning System gave an address about global change, and the automation of the construction process that drives much of Topcon’s business. Machine control benefits are obvious, but adoption so far is low, mostly because of the requirement for a change in workflow. China, which represents 40% of the global construction market has only 5% adoption of machine control so far. One of the biggest problem is that people are not understanding the impact of the technology, and the educational process is one of the biggest challenges, along with government regulations and rules that are holding back adoption.

Real-time access to geospatial information creates new opportunities, with cloud-based services enabling better data management. Topcon has been using a digital site model, with data control and advanced planning that extend to the cloud. The instantaneous real-time and precise data improves the workflow, with mass data capture allowing managers to compare work with design, and effectively manage design.

Forward-thinking managers in industry no longer worry about equipment location and what they are doing, with today’s data we have a 5D understanding of the entire project and the location of all equipment. These technologies are accelerating a change in the way we work, fully automating workflows.

Construction and agriculture are the largest machine markets in the world. There are no better funded markets, yet automation is slow to take hold. There is maturity of the toolsets, to dramatically improve efficiency, and it’s only a matter of time to wider adoption to transform these industries.

LambooTed Lamboo, senior vice president, civil and geospatial sales at Bentley Systems discussed making data mobile across workflows. Information mobility across the project lifecycle greatly reduces time and cost of project construction. Point clouds and geospatial technology are well used in projects, however data management across all roles and stages of a project is just beginning to grow. Point clouds as the de facto standard for capturing reality and are now being combined with mobile technology to make it more accessible as these devices expand into the workplace.

The consumerization of mobile technology is accelerating the adoption of model-based design. Bentley has made point cloud data a native data format throughout all software products, storing once and using everywhere, or parsing the point cloud and only using what you need. Hybrid models, between CAD and point cloud data, are now in use. High-volume raster data draped over a digital elevation model, or point clouds combined with design models engage the users in a new way. Augmented reality applications on tablets allow for the visualization of underground infrastructure overlaid upon the camera input. Bentley is all-in on application development, with many available on the Apple iStore, and developer tools for further customization.

Quality infrastructure is very important for the advancement of humankind. Our ability to improve infrastructure is directly related to improving human life. With the vast amount of information collected, the management of infrastructure information is a very important part of transforming our cities for improved livability. It’s not about systems anymore, it’s about geospatial information, and putting the information on the ground, relating things to location, and making it easier to manage information so that it is structured and ready to be consumed.

Hanspal1Amar Hanspal, vice president of the IPG Product Group at Autodesk, put infrastructure needs in the context of building a world that can handle the 9 Billion we will have by 2020, and the 11 billion that we will have shortly thereafter. We need to address issues of urbanization on how to house them. China is building 15 cities in the next ten years that will each have a million inhabitants. By some estimates the world needs $60 Trillion of infrastructure right now, but the ability to create is far less than what we can put in place with a $24 Trillion capacity, and these needs are project of necessity to move forward. Recovery from the economic recession is among one of the challenges to changing the balance between demand and supply of infrastructure.

Technology itself is one of the challenges that comes in the way of the capacity to meet the need. The world of GIS has been around for thirty years or more. It has done many great things in the world of infrastructure, applied in so many ways. In the world of infrastructure it has helped people understand what and who will be impacted by a piece of infrastructure that is being planned. However, the first-generation of GIS technology doesn’t meet the needs of infrastructure that we have today. The expertise that is required that means that information is not freely accessible for consumption. The fact that there is still a GIS department is a problem. Information islands are a big part of the challenge with infrastructure. GIS is also dependent on an old architecture with a PC-based limit of CPUs.

Infrastructure projects are becoming larger and more complex, because populations and cities are becoming more complex. Teams are also getting larger. Sensors being built into all things, with big data. The amount of data made accessible is exploding thanks to the extension of computing power moving to the cloud.

GIS 1.0 is heading toward a set of limitations, while project teams and data are heading in another direction. We need a fresh look on how we apply geospatial in the world of infrastructure. For the world of physical infrastructure, what we need is No GIS, meaning “not only.” GIS needs to combine with point clouds, photogrammetry, social network information, and sensor systems. BIM for Infrastructure brings clarity, collaboration and coordination.

PastorRamon Pastor, vp and general manager of large format printing business at HP spoke about the digital to paper workflow, asserting that the paper to digital is still an important factor. The effects of the economic crisis means more people are bidding for projects and there’s a stronger need to sell an idea, and a pressure to turn around a project more quickly. Based on this, there are new design principals like enabling to access content anytime and anywhere. The ability to share information with a network, and bridging the digital with the paper world, and transformation our devices to information hubs, on-ramp and off-ramp of data to impact decision making.

HP is introducing services with DesignJet and the capacity to redline a paper copy that you can send via e-mail. Stormwater lines, 3,500 miles of pipes, sharing modifications and improving the decision process. With the idea of adding metadata to the paper, prints aren’t the end, but the beginning.