Integrating CAD+GIS for Facilities Management

I’ve focused on GIS for IoT and big data processing the past few years.  Just got the call to help out now with GIS for facilities management.   I’m building this CAD + GIS resource list for my own reference and to share with CAD and GIS operators I’ll be working with.

CAD-GIS Overview

A quick tour of working with CAD data
[ArcGIS Help]

CAD Integration Community

Georeferencing CAD

Overlaying CAD Data into ArcGIS – [ArcGIS Help]

Lining up CAD Data in ArcGIS
[ UC 2017 presentation by Margaret Maher, author of the book.]

  • CAD and ArcGIS approaches
  • Reasons why data might not align, and visual examples
  • Details on how to modify the PRJ
    • The Scale Factor parameter
    • How it affects false Easting and Northing
  • What to request from the CAD operator (AutoCAD & Microstation)
  • List of deep-dive resources on projection

Using GIS inside CAD

Exporting features to CAD drawings
Design projects in CAD can begin with base data generated from a GIS. Export feature classes and shapefiles to AutoCAD and MicroStation formats.

A quick tour of ArcGIS for AutoCAD

CAD-GIS Data Integration

Strategies for migrating CAD to a Geodatabase – [ArcGIS Help]

Standardizing CAD for Importing into Geodatabases – Lessons Learned
[Esri UC 2017 presentation by city of Aurora, CO]

  • The city’s CAD data submittal standards
  • CAD terminology, AutoCAD and Civil 3D
  • CAD Batch Standards Checker
  • FME Workbench
  • Understanding the technology strengths and weaknesses
  • Engaging stakeholders




OK. I’m not a GeoHipster. I’m a GIS Worker. This is what I do.

But worry not, GIS worker: Spatial might no longer be special, but projections, datums, and legacy file formats will continue to be very, very special.
      – Brian Timoney, MapBrief

Okay… GIS is not sexy like your iPhone locator app.  But it will always be special.  In the same way that your plumbing and electrical and HVAC systems are special.  Next time they stop working, ask yourself just how special they are.  Next time your iPhone map is missing Main Street, ask yourself how special GIS is.

Consumer and business geo apps and services keep evolving – cutting edge today and obsolete tomorrow.  BigData today – legacy file format tomorrow.  But projections, datums, and georeferencing will always be there to provide ground truth. 

Esri and the ArcGIS platform have been around for 30 years, defining and documenting GIS work.  So when we needed to understand what GIS workers are doing across a variety of industries, we looked at the list of tools in ArcGIS Toolbox as a compendium of GIS workflow and process skills.  

We needed the ArcToolbox list itself as a data set — not a PDF poster or searchable web site.  I asked Esri for an ArcToolbox list as Excel table or other word processing format, but they could not provide.  So my friend at Esri, Nick Toscano, and I compiled the table ourselves.   That’s almost 900 “GIS tools” in an Excel data table.  Easy to sort, filter, annotate, categorize in ways that meet our needs.  

Here it is.

Some of the tools are pretty arcane.  But most are plain markers for the nuts-and-bolts work of GIS professionals in towns, cities, and counties who have to deal with projections, datums, and legacy file formats every day.  Not the next wave or next-big-thing.  Just the actual data and task at hand.

How will we use this?

  • Survey and assess the experience of our GIS workers.
  • Plan GIS skills training and investment.
  • Design new workflows to make common tasks more efficient.
  • As a quicker reference for building geoprocessing services. 

Server geoprocessing for 911/CAD. Got some?

I’m working with the metro police dept. to build and automate geoprocesses that support 911 and computer-aided dispatch (CAD).  The goal is simple:  Within minutes of a 911 call, we want to provide an “investigative package” of map layers, tables, and fact sheets for the area surrounding the location of the event.  Info like this:

  • 911 calls of the same or different types in past 24 hours
  • Active warrants and prison releases
  • Weapons seized and ownership information
  • Population and demographics
  • Schools and care facilities and their populations
  • Land use and cover, building footprints
  • Police dept. assets, fixed and mobile

I was fortunate to get on the phone with Esri’s Public Safety Team to discuss this.  They’re a great bunch – knowledgeable and helpful.  I asked the Esri team:

Has anyone in the ArcGIS community already built  911/CAD geoprocessing models they can share?

I had already searched Esri’s Public Safety Resource Center, the Public Safety Forum, ArcGIS Online, and AGO’s Public Safety Group.  And googled around, of course.  I didn’t find anything.

The Esri team acknowledged that a published set of standard tools and scripts to support public safety generally, and 911/CAD in particular, is still needed.  They’re interested in working with us over the next few months to help get that started. 

Who has customized ArcGIS Server to support 911 or other public safety operations?

It looks like there’s not much out there yet. But Esri could point to one example:

New York City ‘s Office of Emergency Management is using ArcGIS Server to automatically generate an “incident response packet” about each 911 incident scene. The packet includes maps of

  • area
  • aerial 
  • neighborhood maps

and reports of

  • administrative boundary
  • nearest critical facilities
  • demographic
  • land use
That’s close to our “investigative package”.

Application development at NYC OEM called for database design, ArcGIS Server 9.3, and programming with ArcObjects, ASP.NET, C#, and Ajax.  (Does that mean Esri Javascript API and Dojo?  Not sure.)  I’d like to see the geoprocessing scripts.

Is anyone using ArcGIS Server with Sharepoint for 911 or other public safety?

The obvious answer is that Esri has partnered with Microsoft to integrate ArcGIS Server with Sharepoint into what’s they call the Fusion Core Solution.  Surprisingly, if you google it, you won’t find a lot out there except Powerpoint by Esri and MS. But thanks to stoptimeculp at YouTube, we have a simple video demo.  

After the YouTube demo spends time on “punching in” and tracking personnel hours, it finally shows what you would expect for web mapping and Sharepoint:  Select layers to add to a map, and map the new incidents that you intake using web forms. and then looked at them together.  So far, I’ve seen no geospatial analysis — automated or otherwise — to provide additional location-based intelligence like what’s listed above.

By the way … Is there a national or standard data model for 911/CAD ?

I was thinking of standard categories for 911 events, and standard or recommended fields and formatting for 911 call processing. The Esri team discussed generic industry-level information exchange models. But we couldn’t identify a standard specifically for 911.

Got ArcGIS Server geoprocessing models for 911/CAD you want to discuss and share?

Metadata really does matter … to me, right now

Tonight I worked on assembling Chicago area map layers to inform a real estate analysis task.  I pulled together map services into Chicago Area Land Use Map.

 I found some usable map services by googling for ArcGIS Server REST catalogs like this:

url:rest AND url:arcgis AND chicago

I found interesting map layers from and Loyola Univ.  But guess what… not a single word of descriptive metadata was published with any of these map services.  The Loyola server is obviously used by students, so I can understand why there’s no documentation.  But the .gov GIS server is public-facing and, I would assume, authoritative.  But I can’t really tell.  Can’t tell anything about any of these services.

Maybe the map service authors couldn’t figure out how to get information into the REST catalog fields for these services.  It’s not straightforward when publishing to ArcGIS Server.


Esri’s Bern Szukalski visited the City of Philadelphia GIS team in early December to show and discuss ArcGIS Explorer (AGX) capabilities. We were considering using AGX or AGX Online (AGXO) to present the city’s GIS strategic plan to stakeholders. Bern asked if we thought AGXO would be adequate for this project and its objectives, as outlined by the city’s Director of Enterprise GIS. I had no reason to doubt it at the time. Now I’m not so sure.

AGX Online is limited to basic labels and popups. It will fall short on a couple of the projects objectives: It won’t present the GIS Strategic Plan with a lot of “impact” to city government audiences, nor display “Powerpoint-like” design details, as the GIS Director hoped.

Working the AGXO Frederick Douglass presentation ( ) showed me that AGXO is limited to:

  • Basemaps pan, zoom, and switch
  • Titles and text labels
  • Point, line, and polygon graphics
  • Popups from the graphics that are limited to
    • title and short text
    • displayed image or video
    • one hyperlink

That’s all there is.

The strategic plan presentation might be improved somewhat with enhancements in the next release of AGXO, which Bern demo’d at Esri’s Federal UC in January. He also described it at . Enhancements are:

  • map feature templates
  • better feature and annotation editing wizards
  • better user experience — streamlined and simplified for ease of use.

The first two will make authoring more efficient but won’t expand AGXO’s presentation quality very much. Better user experience will help. This is something that many of my Frederick Douglass AGXO beta testers critiqued.

Maybe Esri can give me access to the new release in time for use on this project.