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Municipal Asbuilt Documentation: Digital Workflows

by Mike on January 7, 2015

Using CAD data to update a city or county’s GIS creates a streamlined, efficient procedure that ties together the effort expended in project delivery, and leverages it forever in the lifecycle of program management.
Beacon makes a wonderful window for viewing project data superimposed on the rest of the County and Town’s map layers.  A 24/7 COP – Common Operating Picture – for tracking projects from proposed concepts to construction documents to asbuilt lifecycle management features.  As infrastructure is converted from CAD design files to GIS layers, the results appear overlaid on the rest of the jurisdictions’ mapping layers in updates as frequent as the changes occur in the field.
Schneider Geospatial’s web-based Permitting application has the ability to add a dimension of workflow-tracking and coordination to the CAD-to-GIS process, relating it to the particular business procedures of each jurisdiction.  It also adds automation to the process of data submittal and step-by-step notifications and approvals. Using Permitting to link project management and facilities asbuilt milestones to GIS map features – email notification, digital data submission, and workflow automation – increases the efficiency of the system and the return on investment even more.
IGIC CAD-to-GIS standards: Although not formally an adopted standard, a CAD-GIS integration workflow template has been developed by IGIC workgroups. An example can be found here.

Very few if any modern and major infrastructure projects get built without beginning life as CAD-based data.  For the most part, however, that data is designed and configured to produce paper-based documents for construction.  Much of the annotation and details are there as instructions for assembly.  Nestled in there is also the model of the infrastructure’s physical components.  With little or no extra effort and just a sensible amount of forethought, that model can be verified and stored to support the rest of the lifecycle management for the infrastructure in which that model represents– a value many, many times the original construction cost.  Asbuilt documentation procedures can start with the design file, which then becomes a process-tracking utility and communication tool in GIS.
Remember the promise of GASB 34? In June 1999, GASB Statement 34 (or GASB 34) was published, requiring state and local governments to begin reporting on the value of their infrastructure assets, roads, bridges, water and sewer facilities, etc..  Five years later, Esri published Removing the guesswork, which introduced many to the idea of digital workflows.  Ten years now down the road, and understanding the extent to which jurisdictions have invested in capital assets such as roads, bridges, and other infrastructure assets, it is imperative to efficiently and effectively capture the inventory of these assets as they are built, and to track their lifecycle thereafter.  CAD data provides the inventory, and with the right procedures it seamlessly becomes the lifecycle data in GIS that everyone needs.
Each year in the U.S. capital facilities industry, billions of dollars are lost due to poor data asbuilt standards and procedures.  Either asbuilt surveys aren’t captured digitally, or they are re-created unnecessarily, are not captured accurately, or they are completely ignored, costing future accidents, poor planning, and higher maintenance costs.

Good guidelines for composing effective CAD-to-GIS data exist in several previous blogs here. The different feature components can morph as the data proceeds through the lifecycle.  Consider for example a street centerline: It starts as geometry on the preliminary plat, and is then used for addressing, for 911, for routing services such as trash pick-up and as a reference for tracking the condition of the pavement and plotting maintenance activities.  At each step, the geometry may be tweaked, but re-creating the geometry “from scratch” can be avoided, along with the redundant costs and potential for errors.
That same geometry provides a unifying resource locator, as well – it will appear as a proposed linework on beacon, then later as the completed street, and in the meantime, permitting documentation, construction asbuilts, maintenance records and asset improvement plans can all be cross-referenced to it.  Because the data is systematically gathered and consistently formatted, it can more easily then also be provided to update the state-certified INDOT road mileage inventory, which is a part of the basis for allocation of federal funds.
A simple and effective digital workflow, therefore, cuts costs, mitigates risk, and can even increase revenue.