Geospatial Business Spotlight: The CEDRA Corporation

Company Name:         The CEDRA Corportation

Location:                     1600 Mosley Road, Suite 500, Victor, NY  14564

Website:                      http://www.cedra.com

Employees:                 12

Established:               1985

The CEDRA Corporation offers GIS based software for mapping, civil engineering design and modeling, surveying and database maintenance applications. CEDRA’s AVseriesTM suite of software operates directly within Esri’s GIS software (ArcGIS® 9.x and 10.x), thus eliminating the need to switch back and forth between various software packages. CEDRA software is developed entirely in-house and marketed worldwide to public works agencies, tax assessors, utilities, municipalities and private sector companies.

Complementing CEDRA’s Software Development Division is CEDRA’s Professional Services Division which has performed consulting projects throughout the U.S. and specializes in developing, populating and maintaining GIS databases.   CEDRA’s Professional Services Division offers consulting services to clients for a multitude of applications including CEDRA-specific software solutions or can be totally non-CEDRA software related consulting projects. CEDRA staff is highly proficient in GIS Analysis, Data Capture, Data Conversion, Map Production, Routing and Custom Application Development in toth the desktop and server environments.  As an authorized Esri business partner and reseller, CEDRA has a long history in the use and application of Esri’s GIS suite of software dating back to 1987.

CEDRA’s corporate mission is to provide services and software that improves the efficiency and productiveness of its clients. This goal is achieved by (a) developing software that is production oriented and (b) offering services that enable clients to streamline workflows. CEDRA believes the more automated a workflow can be made, the more efficient a client will be and a higher quality product will be produced. CEDRA offers Expertise, Experience and Commitment when undertaking a project.

Illustrative CEDRA products and services include:

Wayne County E911, Lyons, New York

Under this project CEDRA assisted Wayne County staff in developing the County’s E911 street database. Specifically, the work involved acquiring the NYS Street Address Mapping (SAM) data, extracting the street data for Wayne County, and working with the County in verifying and updating the street center line database for use in the County’s E911 system.

In performing this work, CEDRA staff was on-site at the County’s office performing the work and training County staff in the process. A workflow was developed and adopted by the County. Additionally, a training guide was developed enabling County staff to maintain the street center line data with their own resources.

In addition to establishing the street center line data set, CEDRA assisted the County in developing the EMS, Fire and Police polygon layers which are utilized by the County’s E911 system. Extensive polygon editing and topological verification was performed in developing these three polygon layers.

CEDRA’s Wayne County 911 address maintenance application is based on data from the  NYS street address program and a customized

Heavy Truck, Wide-Load Routing, Albany, New York

This work involved the development of a 3D street network dataset for New York State and a GIS web based routing application tailored for routing heavy and wide-load freight vehicles. With over 200 bridge strikes occurring in New York State annually and over 2,000 nationwide, the need for a routing application specific for freight vehicles was identified by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Using USGS Digital Elevation Model data in conjunction with NYSDOT street, pavement and bridge data, a 3D state-wide street network data set was created with ArcGIS.  The dataset accounted for vertical clearance, posted weight limits, speed limits, and roadway grade.  The NYSDOT data was obtained through the NYS GIS Clearinghouse under its Data Sharing Cooperative program and other sources.

As part of this project, an ArcGIS Server JavaScript web application was developed enabling routes to be generated based upon the 3D street network and user-specified route parameters such height limit, weight limit, desired speed and type of cargo, if appropriate. The web application consisted of a custom user-interface that integrated Esri’s Network Analyst extension with the 3D street network. Routes with turn by turn directions can be exported to Keyhole Markup Language (KML) format providing users the ability to download to mobile navigation devices and used with Google Maps. Furthermore, the application enables the user to generate multiple routes with each route appearing in a different color. The application also provides the user the ability to display various cartographic and orthoimage base maps, including Google-based maps.  This project involved extensive use of Esri’s Spatial Analyst and Network Analyst extensions, the ArcGIS Server software, Esri’s JavaScript API and HTML programming.

The heavy truck / wide-load application includes several NYSDOT data sets available through the NYS GIS Clearinghouse and a customized ESRI server technology application utilizing several extensions.  Users can also export to KML for use in mobile navigation devices.

PECO Application Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

GIS Administrators have long been dealing with how to get their GIS data into CAD environments, be it AutoCAD, Bentley and other CAD systems. One client CEDRA has been working with in this regard is PECO Energy located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

PECO Energy services nearly 1.6 million electric and over 511,000 natural gas customers and is the largest combination utility company in Pennsylvania.  It has a franchise utility service area of 2,100 square miles with a population of 3.8 million people. Much of PECO’s electric and gas data resides in their ArcGIS enterprise GIS while construction drawings are generated and maintained in Bentley CAD.   Having been ArcGIS users for over 10 years,  PECO’s enterprise GIS is extremely robust, up-to-date and contains information which needs to be accessible and be integrated with construction drawings. CEDRA was contracted to develop a solution to seamlessly transfer GIS data to the Bentley CAD environment as to avoid the unnecessary effort and cost of maintaining data in duplicate environments.

To this end,  CEDRA worked with PECO staff to develop a customized application utilizing ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Desktop a custom geoprocessing service and the CEDRA-DxfExport software. The goal of the GIS data transfer is to export the ArcGIS data from the Esri environment preserving point feature symbology, line styles, annotation and layering information into a format that the Bentley system can process.   Another requirement was to minimize the amount of user interaction.

To make the extraction of the GIS data as easy as possible the amount of information required by the user was kept to to the following:

  • Identify the area to be extracted
  • Specify the name of the DXF file to be created
  • Specify the desired output scale
  • Select whether a DXF, PDF or both formats were to be created, and
  • Specify the email address to which a confirmation message of the extraction’s completion should be sent.

Once the user has entered the above,  a Python based geoprocessing service is executed to begin the extraction and generation of the DXF and/or PDF files. Before and after images are below illustrating how the utility ports the same features in a defined geographic footprint from one environment (ArcMap) to another (Bentley).

BEFORE:  User defined geographic footprint (ArcMap)

AFTER: Using the customized CEDRA “data transfer” utility, the same features/same geographic footprint rendering in Bentley CAD software.

Urban Forestry Management, Edmond, Oklahoma

CEDRA assisted the City of Edmond, OK in the development and deployment of a mobile based application which is being used in the ongoing inventory of the nearly 16,000 trees which are the responsibility of the City to maintain.  Using iPad devices, staff from the Department of Urban Forestry collect a wide range of data on each tree including: species code, diameter, condition of leaves, condition of wood, GPS location and any special notes concerning the tree.  Using a form, Urban Forestry staff can select from a pre-defined list of species codes, capture a GPS location and take a digital image of the tree.  Once the data has been collected, this information is synchronized with the City’s SDE geodatabase nightly.

Cities and urban centers are increasingly using easy-to-deploy/use mobile applications to collect and maintain important data on street features such as trees.  This image illustrates a form designed by CEDRA for Urban Forestry staff in Edmond, OK.

For more information on New York State based CEDRA products and services:

Contact:               Lisa Stone, Marketing Director
                               lstone@cedra.com
                               585-414-6541

10 Questions: David Bubniak

I’ve been going back and forth with David Bubniak for several months on doing a piece on his geospatial work and efforts with the Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board (STC) where he has worked for over a decade.  Covering three counties – Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben – David’s GIS work with STC covers many program areas. A lifelong Southern Tier resident, he and his wife and their two sons live in Waverly,  New York.  David can contacted at gisstc@stny.rr.com.

eSpatiallynewyork:  How long have you been with Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board (STC)?

Bubniak:  I   started at STC in 2005 and worked here for a year. I left and went to work for James Sewall in the Elmira office (formally Weiler Mapping). I then returned to STC in 2008 and have been here since. Prior to STC, I worked for the Chemung County Metropolitan Planning Office (MPO)  in the early 90’s as a transportation GIS analyst. I then became the General Manager of Chemung County Transit. I then went back to doing GIS in the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania for Northern Tier Regional Planning.  A good friend of mine is a surveyor and I worked with him on the side periodically over the years doing property surveys, deed research and construction layouts.  Those experiences have helped me significantly over the years understanding how to assist people with GIS. I am the only designated GIS person in STC office though we do have planners that use it often.

eSpatiallynewyork:  When did you start doing GIS work?

Bubniak: I started using GIS in 1993. I attended Mansfield University and graduated with a Geography degree with an emphasis in Planning. We used Atlas GIS for projects. I worked part time at the Chemung County Planning department right after I graduated in December 1994.  My first project was mapping senior citizen migration from rural areas back into the City of Elmira for the Department of Aging. When I started at the Executive Transportation Committee for Chemung County (Chemung County MPO) in 1995 I used Unix based  pcARC/INFO and AutoCad. I taught myself how to use both just by studying the manuals and using them for projects. I then started to use ArcView when it was released.

eSpatiallynewyork:  What GIS products do you now use/promote? 

Bubniak:  I use both web and desktop applications. I use ArcGIS server as well as ArcGIS online for my web apps. I do promote both web and desktop apps. I have people using ArcView, ArcReader and ArcGIS Explorer.  I have the Elmira Water Board using ArcGIS desktop with several departments accessing data over their network using ArcGIS Explorer (desktop). The Chemung County Stormwater Coalition uses a combination of ArcGIS online, local data, and data through ArcGIS server.

eSpatiallynewyork:  What agencies/organizations do you work with most closely?

Bubniak:  I do a lot of work for Chemung County departments and towns. I do get involved with the state from time to time. I function sort of as the GIS coordinator for Chemung County but not on formal basis. I work with the Stormwater Coalition, public works, Elmira Water Board, Real Property. I do work and assist several of the bigger towns in the county.

eSpatiallynewyork:  Tell us about the “Southern Tier Central Mapping Application for Local Governments”

Bubniak:  I have four basic parcel viewers. I have one for each county then one for the whole region. They all run the same data from a SQL database.  Chemung and Schuyler Counties connect their county sites to their SDG Imagemate Online application.  I have a Chemung County site tailored to soil and water, Public works and local code officials.  Many county departments and officials use it for their GIS. I have a bunch of project specific web apps I built using ArcGIS for Flash and Silverlight including one for the Keuka Lake Watershed,  a planning tool, and the Susquehanna-Chemung Action Plan.  Those apps utilize other public services and data to cover the whole area. It really depends on the application and the need.

eSpatiallynewyork:  In your capacity with STC, what professions do you work with the most on a day-to-day basis? 

Bubniak:  In addition to my daily responsibilities with TC, I work with several other (government, county, local governments, nonprofits, what?) disciplines including engineering, public works, planning/economic development,  transportation, code enforcement and emergency services.   In many respects and functions I serve as a GIS consultant (though not paid as one) to many organizations and governments across the three county region.

eSpatiallynewyork:  Making maps anymore or is everything online now?

Bubniak:  Mostly everything has gone online, though I still make maps from time to time.  Well designed hard copy maps are always still needed for meetings and discussions.  There is no substitute.

eSpatiallynewyork: From your perspective and experience in the Southern Tier, do you think decision makers and elected officials value GIS technology as a necessity or a “nice to have”?

Bubniak:  For many years it was a “nice to have” and called a cool technology toy.   Though more recently the culture and understanding of geospatial technology has changed within government and among elected officials to considering it much more as a “necessary” tool.

eSpatiallynewyork:  Assuming money and administrative support were in place, what are a couple cost effective (and needed) geospatial applications which you feel STC could develop and available for the three county area?

I would like to have an application or applications similar to how the Town of Southampton, NY is making GIS services available on their website.  They have a fee-based viewer (ePortal).   for Land Manger GIS that was presented at the last New York State GIS Conference.

eSpatiallynewyork:  So what’s next?  What are you working on now?

Bubniak:  Chemung County has just purchased an ELA license from ESRI. I am going to be designing, building multi-user databases and setting up applications for the county. We are going to be implementing a true enterprise system and get away from our current departmentalized GIS systems.

I am currently working on an application to allow  Elmira City Council members to report issues they want resolved. This will be done on tablets and cut out a huge amount of paper work and will bring in a geospatial component at the same time.

Eventually we plan on getting social services involved.   Once we get this off the ground and get things going we are going to look how to improve services in this area of government.  While at Sewall we designed a web application for social services to locate day cares, employers, transit routes and client locations which I believe has potential for regional and county governments.

 eSpatiallynewyork:  So what are you doing when you are not working?

Bubniak:  For many years I competed in power lifting but hurt my shoulder and don’t participate anymore.   I enjoy the outdoors and hunt.    We bought a starter home  many years ago and since then I’ve completely redone the house doing all of the plumbing, electrical, drywall, flooring, etc., myself.    It’s a great location on a dead end road and we own 40 acres.

Both of our boys – ages 9 and 14 – are involved in travel sports (baseball, track/cross country, Tae Kwon Do) so following them around to games and practices is one of our main “hobbies” now – which is all worth it.

2016 National Map (TNM) Products and Services for the Empire State

For almost ten years, The National Map viewer has served as one of the more prominent and visible products of the of the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) National Geospatial Program (NGP).  It represents a significant collaborative effort between the USGS and other Federal, State, and local partners in disseminating  nationwide geospatial data, and where available, content from state and local sources as well.

The National Map is easily accessible for display through a web viewer and boasts a rich catalog of map services which can be consumed by and augments a wide range of browser viewing clients.  It now includes the “new” viewer (the original TNM viewer will be retired this year) which provides users with access to geospatial datasets, geographic names, the Historical Topographic Map Collection (HTMC), and the increasingly popular post-2009 US Topo quadrangle product – all for easy access and download.    US Topo maps are modeled on the familiar 7.5-minute quadrangle maps of the period 1947-1992, but are mass-produced from national GIS databases on a three-year cycle.

Selected TNM viewer functions which can be used by the New York State geospatial community will be highlighted in  the  following  sections  including an update on two of NGP’s  most current and visible  projects –  the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) and National Hydrography Dataset (NHD).  Both of which are made available in the TNM viewer.  If you’re not familiar with the National Map viewer, an easy way to get started is by using newly released USGS TNM tutorials.

3D Elevation Program (3DEP) Continue reading

The Federal Geospatial Data Act of 2015: A NYS Local Perspective

There has been a limited amount of fanfare and support – or even discussion for that matter – here in the Empire State on the proposed Geospatial Data Act of 2015.    Beyond one or two acknowledgements on  the state listservs, the announcement really didn’t generate any buzz or visible discussion throughout the GIS community.   Though it comes as no real surprise as few in New York statewide GIS community have had any meaningful exposure or introduction to past legislation/bills regarding federal agencies referenced in the proposed 2015 act introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.  In absence of any real meaningful dialog here in the New York  between the GIS professional community and elected officials on federal legislation (or any geospatial legislation for that matter except perhaps the never-ending “Surveyor” Legislation), one wonders if New York’s federal delegation is even aware of the proposed act.  Or its stated benefits.

At the core of the proposed 2015 Act is a combination federal legislation and policies including (in no particular order of importance) OMB Circular A-16, the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), and the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC).   Very government-like and uber confusing, a little background includes: In 1994, Executive Order 12906 was issued by President Clinton to direct the development of the NSDI.  Unfortunately, twenty-one years later,  many of the requirements of EO 12906 have never been acted on.  Circular A-16 was originally issued in 1953, revised in 1967, revised in 1990 (establishing the FGDC), and revised again in 2002 outlining specific federal agency obligations.  A-16 Supplemental Guidance was also issued in 2010. Similar to EO 12906, federal agencies have struggled to implement many of the provisions of OMB A-16 over the same period of time.

The August 2002 revision to Circular No. A-16 was particularly significant in context of naming the stewardship of over 30 data themes to federal agencies in support of both the NSDI and FGDC programs.  Specific datasets included:

 Biological Resources, Cadastral, Cadastral Offshore, Climate, Cultural and Demographic Statistics, Cultural Resources, Orthophotography, Earth Cover, Elevation Bathymetric, Elevation Terrestrial, Buildings and Facilities, Federal Lands, Flood Hazards, Geodetic Control, Geographic Names, Governmental Units, Geologic, Housing, Hydrology, International Boundaries, Law Enforcements Statistics, Marine Boundaries, Offshore Materials, Outer Continental Shelf Submerged Lands, Public Health, Public Land Conveyance, Shoreline, Soils, Transportation, Vegetation, Watershed boundaries and Wetlands.

While all data themes are clearly important in supporting the broad national NSDI efforts, most New York State local governments  have a limited number of day-to-day business work functions directly related to NSDI spatial data themes itemized in the 2002.  (In fact many of the 2002 NSDI spatial data themes are only developed and maintained by federal resources.)  Adding to the disconnect is that many 2015 local government GIS programs, especially in urban areas, have business needs which are not supported by either the content or spatial accuracy of core 2002 NSDI spatial data themes.  For example, local government geospatial programs in the areas of  infrastructure management (drinking water, sanitary sewer, and storm water systems), utilities, vehicle routing and tracking, permitting and inspection systems, service delivery programs in the health and human services, local planning, zoning, and economic development activities are not closely aligned with many of the 2002 NSDI spatial data themes.    While many federal mapping programs and geospatial datasets continue to be consistent at 1:24,000 (2000 scale), most local urban government GIS programs are built on top of large scale (i.e., 1”=100’ or even 1”=50’) photogrammetric base maps.

Not all is lost, however, as some local data products such as parcel boundaries and planimetrics (building footprints, hydrology, transportation) actually are consistent selected 2002 NSDI spatial data themes (Cadastral, Governmental Units, Hydrology, Geodetic Control, Transportation) albeit at a higher degree of accuracy.  Unfortunately, limited capacity or systems have been established to leverage or normalize such datasets into the NSDI.

Unfortunately, even though the federal government continues to identify and list local governments as key stakeholders in most legislative proposals, it’s common belief among federal agencies that resources are not available to monitor or engage local GIS programs (i.e., 3000 counties vs. 50 states).  And there continues to be the (wild) belief state level GIS programs can serve as the ‘middle man’ or conduit between local and federal geospatial programs.  Somehow magically rolling up local government data for use by federal agencies and integrated into the NSDI.  Not really.  At least here in New York State.   And no, old school NSDI Clearinghouses nor the current rage of soon-to-be-yesterday-news “Open Data” portals being equivalent mechanisms in supporting and maintaining 2002 A-16 data themes.

Perhaps sponsors of the Geospatial Act of 2015 could model collection of local government geospatial data assets after the ongoing efforts associated with the HIFLD (Homeland Infrastructure Foundation Data) program.   Though obviously a very different end product from the NSDI, federal agencies producing the HSIP (Homeland Security Infrastructure Protection) Gold and HSIP Freedom datasets have enjoyed relatively decent success in collecting large volumes of local government data – much of which has been paid for at the local level.  And many of the same federal agencies associated with the HIFLD program including National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Defense (DOD), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have stewardship responsibilities of NSDI spatial data themes.  Different.  But similar.   And adding more bewilderment to the discussion is that it is easier to contribute crowed sourced data (structures) to the USGS than it is for local governments to push large scale photogrammetric data of the same features (structures) to federal agencies and incorporated into the NSDI.

Georeferenced 2013 US Topo White Plains quadrangle.  While selected structures such as schools, fire houses and hospitals are identified on  default US Topo product, this image shows all Westchester County building footprints

Georeferenced 2013 US Topo White Plains quadrangle. While selected structures such as schools, fire houses and hospitals are identified on the default US Topo product, this image shows also shows how local content such as Westchester County building footprints can be made available to the NSDI structures data theme.

Unless a methodical and accepted process – adopted by pertinent local/state/federal stakeholders – is institutionalized  by the FGDC, the Geospatial Data Act of 2015 will continue to be more about federal and state geospatial programs and less about truly integrating and taking advantage of the vast amount of local government data.   The Act needs to specify and fund building work flows which communicate directly with the source of the data as well as working towards reducing the reliance on state “middle men” GIS programs as means to acquire local geospatial data. (Local governments were not even mentioned in a February 2015 General Accounting Office report entitled “GEOSPATIAL DATA: Progress Needed on Identifying Expenditures, Building and Utilizing a Data Infrastructure, and Reducing Duplicative Effort”.  A report which appears to be eerily similar and a rebaked version of the  (ill-fated) 2013 “Map It Once, Use It Many Times”   federal geospatial legislation attempting to reposition the federal effort to coordinate National geospatial data development.

Ironically, just one month prior to the Geospatial Data Act of 2015 being introduced, a scathing report was released by the Consortium of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) entitled “Report Card on the U.S. National Spatial Data Infrastructure”.  In short an overall “C-“ to NSDI effort over the past two decades.  The report falls short in not holding state GIS programs more accountable and responsible as well as most have  jockeyed over the past two decades to be seen as enablers and partners of the NSDI  effort in context of framework layer stewards, recipients of FGDC grants, and establishing/maintaining NSDI Clearinghouse nodes.  States supposedly as “middle men” and conduits to valuable local government geospatial data assets.   Perhaps COGO report cards on individual State government GIS programs are forthcoming.

At the end of the day, NSDI supporters actually do have access to a wide range of local government geospatial assets as files, consumable web services, or perhaps through some other middleware provided by a software vendor.   Or a combination of all the above.  The data and the technology are here.  To the end of furthering the intent of the NSDI, legislation like the Geospatial Act of 2015 will fall on deaf ears and not advance as it should unless the federal government establishes the means to directly engage and connect to local governments.

 

 

Relative vs. Absolute Accuracy Revisited

I recently attended a presentation by Dr. Wende Mix, Associate Professor, Geography and Planning Department at SUNY Buffalo State entitled “Field Data Collection Using Smart Phones, Tablets, and GPS Devices:  A Case Study Though the presentation focused on using mobile devices for field data collection, augmented with high resolution aerial imagery,   Dr. Mix inadvertently helped revisit a debate on the long standing geospatial issue of relative accuracy vs. absolute accuracy. While relative mapping accuracy issues are certainly pertinent as part of the emerging Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) and crowd sourcing data collection movements, Dr. Mix’s presentation highlights street feature data collection which was once the mapping domain reserved only for surveying and engineering disciplines.

So how do mobile devices intersect with spatial accuracy?  If at all?   Tons of geospatial data being collected with mobile devices (particularly by the growing Smart Phone market), data of varying scales and accuracies by personnel with varying degrees of training and expertise.  But at the end of the day, with all the disparate data combined, the data mash-up stills supports most decision making needs.  Quite a difference from the efforts of New York State Association of Professional Land Surveyors (NYSAPLS) which for years lobbied that similar street feature mapping across the state could legally only be done by licensed surveyors.  So does spatial data accuracy matter anymore?

Of course it does, though an easier answer is that data is normally collected of sufficient accuracy to support specific business needs.    But perhaps the best way to illustrate how this new market of mobile devices plays into the relative accuracy vs. absolute accuracy discussion, one first needs to consider the body of geospatial data development since the late 1970s/early 1980s.

Early Data Development:  With many early government GIS programs getting started with public domain U.S. Geological Survey  1:100000 (+/- 166’)  Digital Line Graph (DLG) or 1:24000 (+/- 40’)  digital files, widespread use of the technology, particularly within the engineering communities and urban environments, was slow to take hold because the data was considered too generalized and “not accurate” enough. Beyond the human resources needed to manually digitize and convert hardcopy manuscripts, much of the first generation of geospatial data was cheap to acquire and develop.  The trade-off was that the geospatial data was of limited accuracy and content due largely to the generalized nature of the source documentation.

However, as data accuracy improved through photogrammetric projects creating many urban and metropolitan land bases at larger and more accurate scales (1”=200’  & 1”=100’), including a wide range of planimetric datasets such as building footprints, edge of pavement, hydrology, bridges and even stone walls – so did the associated data development costs.   However, the increased accuracy and completeness of the data resulted in a much broader acceptance and use within the engineering community.   And certainly some of this increased user acceptance was also a result of the growing inner-operability between GIS and AutoCAD software packages.  Improved  GPS technology (as well as with “Selective Availability” being discontinued in 2000) also gave government and industry additional tools to further push the limits of high accuracy feature mapping, though as a whole, industry mapping costs remained high.  And cadastral programs continued to mature making large scale digital tax map datasets available providing even more reference and content to both hardcopy and online mapping efforts.  Overall, particularly in the urban environment, higher accuracy datasets with features being mapped a higher degree of positional accuracy,  were slowly replacing the more generalized first generation land bases.

Referencing Data Collected in the Field:   With many urban and even rural land bases now created and available online as a service and augmented by a variety of high resolution aerial imagery services, a large portion of data collected by mobile devices can now be easily referenced and spatially edited to its right relative location. (And as an added benefit, normally at a lower data development cost.)  Most mobile devices now include cameras, so including a picture of the selected feature adds even greater context to its relative location.  Using desktop tools, fire hydrants can be moved to their right relative X,Y location in front of the proper house.  Catch basins can be spatially adjusted to register in their right relative locations on street corners, street signs in their right relative location in the right-of-way, or the locations of underground storage tanks or septic fields moved to their right relative location on the proper tax parcel.  Overall, an industry witnessing an increased body of geospatial data that is not absolute accurate, but relatively accurate and ultimately more useful to a larger community of users – including the public works and engineering disciplines.   (It is noted that some workflows and business models may limit or not include resources for the editing of data; thus requiring high accuracy data capture in the field).

Dr. Mix’s presentation unintentionally illustrated how far we’ve come in context of building and using relative accurate geospatial datasets.  The content of her presentation was both typical and timely as much of the work across the state with mobile devices is being used with public infrastructure and street feature mapping.  While non-survey grade GPS units initially introduced some of these very same issues, the new mobile devices, and in particular Smart Phones, are game changers in context of affordability and ease-of-use.   It is to be seen long term how Smart Phone data collection will impact the low-end GPS hardware market.  (Any Google search on “GPS vs. Smart Phone Data Collection” will provide a long list of opinions on the matter.)

There is no question absolute (or near) accuracy – and its high price tag in data acquisition – is still mandatory for engineering and design/build projects.  But for nearly all other business needs, relative accurate and complete datasets will continue to augment design/build projects and support government and industry decision making.    All said “everything happens somewhere – and it is increasingly being mapped in its right relative location”.