Skip to content

CAD to GIS: Bridging the Chasm

Getting information-rich CAD drawings into GIS systems is an age-old interoperability problem that many organizations still face today.

Getting information-rich CAD drawings into GIS systems is an age-old interoperability problem that many organizations still face today. The worlds of CAD and GIS both serve important purposes, but the chasm between the two – from a data integration and sharing perspective – is great.

Bridging the gap between CAD and GIS was a challenge recently faced by a city in Dale’s home province of Alberta, Canada. Like many cities around the world, GIS at the City of Grande Prairie originated in the engineering group, with AutoCAD® as the main toolset. As web-based GIS came along, Autodesk MapGuide® 6.5 was added to provide the public with access to live data. But last year, when the City wanted to update their GIS system to MapGuide Enterprise, they hit a critical roadblock – how to automatically migrate data from Map 3D drawings into the new MapGuide Enterprise system when it no longer included direct data import capabilities. A basic, manual import process would not cut it due to the volume of the data and the diversity of required formats. The City also needed a way to automatically link to the dynamic object data stored in the CAD files.

With help from Arrow Geomatics, the City used FME to bridge this chasm by creating an automated, repeatable process. FME workspaces were built to convert and restructure both DWG and DGN files – including object data – into the GIS system. FME is also used in conjunction with Windows Scheduled Tasks to automatically batch process conversions on a nightly basis. This ensures that stakeholders from all City departments, as well as public and private organizations, have access to the latest information. Soon, the City will apply FME to their data centralization project, by using it to load CAD data into a spatial database.

“FME bridged a critical gap between our legacy source data and the new GIS platform being implemented,” said Kent Bowman, GIS Analyst/Developer at the City. “This allowed us to avoid extensive rework of our existing datasets and still deliver the updated GIS product for our clients.”

Did you know? Object data reading and writing capabilities were introduced in FME 2009. Visit safe.local/Objectdata to access these handy resources:

  • Demo: Importing Civil 3D Datasets
  • Webinar: Converting/Integrating Map 3D Object Data
  • Example: 3 Ways to Read Map 3D Object Data in FME
  • Demo: Integrating Map 3D Datasets
  • Case Study: City of Turlock

Tip: When converting CAD data, change FME’s default resolution setting to a higher number to achieve clearer results.

Safe product icons
Reach out and get started with FME today

Real change is just a platform away.