Water & Wastewater

San Francisco Department of Public Works Bureau of Engineering

San Francisco saves thousands of hours annually by integrating engineering and GIS with Autodesk Map 3D and Oracle.

“By saving time, we save money. The savings is more than equal to what we would pay a full-time employee. We’re doing more work and delivering higher-quality service to taxpayers.”
—Greg Braswell, IT and GIS Manager, San Francisco Department of Public Works Bureau of Engineering

The San Francisco Department of Public Works Bureau of Engineering (SFDPW) provides engineering services to many departments within the City and County of San Francisco, California. Because these departments are free to seek engineering services from outside contractors, SFDPW must deliver high-quality work—at a competitive cost. SFDPW uses a combination of Autodesk Map® 3D, Autodesk MapGuide, and Oracle database technology to create, manage, and share design and geographic information system (GIS) data efficiently. Since turning to Autodesk and Oracle, SFDPW has been able to:

  • Produce project base maps in 15 minutes instead of five hours
  • Save between 1,700 and 2,000 man-hours annually on projects within the public right of way
  • Manage and share geospatial data more cost effectively
  • Complete more work with the same number of employees
  • Deliver higher value to taxpayers by completing projects in-house

The Challenge

From sewer and roadway design to landscape architecture and asset maintenance, the SFDPW serves as an internal engineering group for traditional and novel public works projects. San Francisco permits its many departments to select the city’s engineering staff or seek help from outside contractors for engineering expertise. This means the SFDPW must compete with private firms on both price and quality. The team looks to its technology assets to keep productivity high and costs low.

“We need to provide great service that is competitive with outside consultants,” says Greg Braswell, the SFDPW Bureau of Engineering’s IT and GIS Manager. “When we complete work in-house, we keep the project knowledge and complete documentation in-house. This contributes to more effective long-term asset management. There are also hidden costs, such as contract and bid management, in outsourcing engineering services.”

The Solution

Complete Asset Data Management
The SFDPW uses a design and data storage solution based on Oracle and Autodesk Map 3D software. An Oracle database serves as the SFDPW’s spatial and attribute data storage hub and includes San Francisco’s base map and data for 180,000 parcels, 3,500 miles of roadways, 29,000 pipes, and much more. To streamline the management of attribute information, SFDPW uses Munsys tools built with Autodesk Map 3D. And using Autodesk MapGuide, SFDPW delivers valuable spatial information over its intranet to employees who do not have GIS or engineering expertise.

According to Braswell, “Our system maintains a high degree of attribute integrity within Oracle without having to use an expensive third-party GIS integration tool. That is because Oracle and Autodesk Map 3D are both based on an open data model. The system also helps us to publish data for a large number of users without forcing them to connect to it through proprietary middleware or a spatial engine.”

Saving Five Hours 400 Times
Because SFDPW’s GIS and design solution supports ready access to data, the bureau’s engineers can complete projects faster and more efficiently. For example, the solution is helping to streamline the design portion of routine sewer replacement projects. The process begins when a SFDPW engineer queries the Oracle database or AutoCAD DWG files with Autodesk Map 3D for information relating to the relevant block. The engineer then uses the data to create a base map for the project. The property lines, curb information, and associated data populate the base map automatically, and the engineer begins the new design in Autodesk Map 3D.

“Before we turned to Autodesk Map 3D and Oracle, it took about five hours to move project base maps into our design software,” explains Braswell. “It now takes 15 minutes. Considering we replace between 350 and 400 blocks of sewer each year, the time savings is significant. And the savings is comparable for all our projects. Using a similar process, our landscape architects incorporate aerial photography into designs just as quickly.”

SFDPW also extends ready access to the GIS information that San Francisco stores in ESRI’s proprietary data format using Autodesk Map 3D. “Being able to access ESRI data with Map 3D is saving our team still more time,” says Braswell. “It also helps us to get more value from our investment in ESRI technology.”

The Result

Thriving in a Competitive Environment
The engineers at SFDPW are very successful at winning work within their own department—and from other departments. Although their engineering expertise and commitment to delivering value are the keys to their success, the efficiencies created by their software solution play a role as well. “Using Autodesk Map 3D and Oracle together has helped us integrate our GIS and engineering workflow,” reports Braswell. “By saving time, we save money. The savings is more than equal to what we would pay a full-time employee. We’re doing more work and delivering higher-quality service to taxpayers.”

For More Information

Find out more about how the complete Autodesk and Oracle solution for public works helps agencies deliver better service.

San Francisco Department of Public Works Bureau of Engineering (pdf - 1253Kb)