New Mexico School District Integrates CAD, GIS with Esri Technology and Services
Founded in 1891, Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) is the 34th largest school district in the US, serving 83,000 students. With a mission to provide comprehensive and high-quality education in partnership with school staff, families, and the local community, APS strives to empower and prepare students for college and beyond with a challenging curriculum and a supportive environment.
APS maintains 16 million square feet of built environment with district facilities and more than 140 elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. The management of facilities and infrastructure in the school district involves a geographic information system (GIS) for mapping and spatial analysis as well as computer-aided design (CAD) data, which allows professionals to design and document real-world objects.
CAD data was managed outside the GIS, posing a challenge for the APS school planning team, designers, and maintenance workers when analyzing data and planning for future buildings and maintaining current structures. To successfully integrate CAD data into its GIS, APS enlisted Esri Professional Services to develop a new workflow to help better manage and analyze its data.
APS leverages Esri® GIS technology, CAD data, and student information systems to spatially map and layer features like facility data points, physical amenities, and the number of students in classrooms to perform complex data analysis. The results from this advanced analysis help the school planning team and school officials identify students' needs and deficiencies in the built environment.
Albuquerque Public Schools
Identify an optimal workflow to bring CAD data into GIS.
Utilize Esri Professional Services to identify an optimal workflow for the CAD and GIS division.
A step-by-step workflow that allowed Albuquerque Public Schools to take ownership of its data. Esri Professional Services equipped the school planning team with skills to confidently troubleshoot data and apply those skills throughout the district.
For many years, a considerable challenge for APS was having large datasets managed in separate systems and divisions. This resulted in data analysis that was time-consuming for the district's school planning team.
APS was in search of a new "one-stop-shop" solution that allowed it to integrate existing CAD data into its GIS to help school planners with site master planning, utilization and capacity studies, and facility assessment. The solution needed to be accessible district-wide and would allow the GIS team to perform real-time spatial analysis accurately and efficiently.
"We already do so much analysis in GIS with school boundaries and student demographics[that] we thought why not take it to the next level and uncover the unlimited possibilities by bringing facility data into GIS," says Elizabeth Halpin, AICP, senior planner and manager for Albuquerque Public Schools Capital Master Plan.
To successfully integrate CAD data into GIS, APS needed to bring together facility and geospatial datasets that are typically utilized in different software platforms. In 2012, APS began the process of digitizing paper CAD drawings and now maintains standardized digital CAD drawings for 158 district facilities with 1,787 individual buildings. The interior space of these buildings includes portables and modular spaces.
With such a large dataset, APS needed to identify the optimal workflow and tools to bring CAD data into GIS. According to Halpin, ensuring the compatibility of the CAD data with GIS standards became the biggest challenge in the conversion process. The school planning team decided to enlist the help of Esri Professional Services to advise the CAD and GIS technical staff on the best possible starting point.
Grady Snipes with Esri Professional Services met with APS to develop the solution through site visits, training sessions, and meetings. Snipes advised the APS team on the best practices for determining what needed to be done with the CAD data, running their GIS tools, setting up config files, and determining the entire workflow process to successfully complete this process.
According to Halpin, several phases of standardization were developed, including measuring square footage and creating building outlines. Larger CAD drawings for each campus were divided into individual drawings for each building and floor.
After the georeferencing process, Esri's Floorplan To Indoors tool was used to convert CAD drawings to GIS. A quality control process was implemented to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the data.
"Seeing that first drawing appear on-screen in GIS was a visual success and a big moment of celebration for our team," says Tammira Taylor, GIS Planner II for Albuquerque Public Schools Capital Master Plan.
With the help of Esri Professional Services, APS uncovered the most efficient way to bring CAD data into GIS. A documented workflow was put in place equipping APS with the confidence and skills to troubleshoot CAD data in GIS on its own. The team worked collaboratively to review the CAD data and perform fixes, eventually distributing the data across the district.
"Establishing a workflow enabled us to take ownership of the data and fix issues as they came along. The step-by-step workflow was essential in enabling us to dive into the details," says Taylor.
APS was invited to present this initiative at the 2019 Education Summit at Esri UC in San Diego, California. While there, Halpin and Taylor presented the CAD integration initiative and had the opportunity to connect with other districts wanting to do the same. They were also invited to deliver the same presentation and workshop at GIS in the Rockies, an annual geospatial information and technology conference.
The APS school planning team looks forward to continuing its collaboration with Esri Professional Services when it begins implementing ArcGIS® Indoors in fall 2020. ArcGIS Indoors is a complete interior mapping system. With this implementation, APS will be the first public school district in the United States to use this innovative technology for smart building management.
The team wants the same integration of CAD data to GIS for analysis of interior and exterior areas. This will allow the ability to layer educational programmatic data into the facility data and do planning analyses in different areas, like identifying appropriate spaces to integrate special education into the general education setting.
"Overall, the experience with Esri Professional Services was positive and effective," says Halpin. "I look forward to working with them on the deployment of Indoors. School facility planning and design practitioners are excited to see the results."
We are excited about the potential of ArcGIS Indoors as a tool for discovering patterns between students' needs and existing infrastructure to make informed decisions for equitable investments at APS.
Contact us to learn about using Esri software for campus operations.