A Little Bit of GIS in My Life

So today Rick Knights, technical service associate, with WTH Engineering stopped by to continue his work on helping us implement our city geographic information system, or GIS. Rick is a certified ENP or emergency number professional who is very familiar with how the 911 system works in the states. We began discussing the many intricacies of the 911 system, how it all evolved, and then started in on GIS – where we are at and where we are going. Wow – this was one of those conversations that begins low key and ends with a major revelation.

Because I am excited about the potential of virtual worlds and augmented reality and how it all fits with the GIS component, we began going down that road. Well, while we were debating the need for accuracy in determining parcel boundary data, Rick threw out this idea: perhaps someday, we would decide to develop parcel data to the point that it did accurately reflect the actual property boundary so that this data would then serve as the established property line. As a former land surveying technician, I was not too certain of how this would be received by that industry. But then when I entered the idea of using augmented reality, Rick brought up an intriguing idea of being able to project property lines onto the actual ground using that technology. How useful that would be when determining setbacks or resolving property disputes.

From there we went to using GIS data that is officially established and maintained by utilities and government agencies and running it through an augmented reality interface to create virtual lines on the actual ground.

Well for anyone who has worked construction, you realize what this could mean. Using the proper technology, you could arrange to project utility lines on the ground – both proposed and existing. With this technology, perhaps one day, I could PROJECT MY DESIGN PLAN DRAWN IN CAD FOR A PARTICULAR AREA ON THE ACTUAL GROUND ON WHICH IT WILL BE BUILT! Then I could walk around making sure everything fit with existing grades, structures, etc. And I could better show the residents who always want to know, “how far is the road going to be widened into my yard?”

Having read about and looked into augmented reality, I cannot believe my mind had not already made this leap before! How useful that would be during the design and even the construction process. Can you imagine having the proposed sewer line projected onto the ground during construction so the backhoe operator can always see the alignment, along with all the other utility locations.

Perhaps others have already made this leap in the use of this particular technology, and I have just not yet come across it. So far everything I have seen has been about projecting a proposed building design on a lot for planning or projecting internal body systems onto a person’s outer skin. The idea of using this technology in the engineering and public works industry to virtually display designs and utilities on the ground or internal buildings systems on a wall is exciting to me because this is bringing the technology down to the level at which it becomes useful on a daily basis to city personnel.

So thanks Rick for the 911 info and help and that little extra promise that GIS can bring to my world.