Software Streamlines Modeling Within an Enterprise

At the 1999 AWWA Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago, Haestad Methods will be showcasing its database and GIS connection technology as implemented in its Cybernet(r), WaterCAD(r), and StormCAD(r) products.

At the 1999 AWWA Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago, Haestad Methods will be showcasing its database and GIS connection technology as implemented in its Cybernet(r), WaterCAD(r), and StormCAD(r) products.

Today the best technology available to share data occurs at the application level or programmatic data connections, according to Haestad.

Software applications for modeling water distribution, storm, and sanitary sewer network systems all require substantial amounts of descriptive data. In a hydraulic network model, the utility engineer will input a wealth of data to define the system including:

The link-node connectivity of the system; Spatial data describing the models physical components and dimensions; Physical attributes of the pipes, junctions, pumps, and/or control structures; Operational parameters and rules; and, The loads and/or demands on the system.

Hydraulic network models take these input data, transform them, and then create and output completely new result data such as pipe flows, pressures, hydraulic grades, operational status changes, and fire flows. Traditionally, these data reside in input files and output files specifically tied to the model. Within the modern utility organization other data-centric, non-modeling applications are in daily use. Consequently, applications involved in GIS, SCADA, customer information and billing, engineering, training, and other information technology areas are competing for ownership and control of the enterprise data.

Since information managers understand that duplication of data is wasteful and can introduce inconsistencies, there is strong motivation to achieve broad-scale reuse and sharing of information across the organization. This overriding goal is tempered by the need to exercise caution when sharing data resources. Care must be taken to preserve the accuracy and integrity of the data stored in the various shared data repositories (the application files) and prevent corruption, misuse, or misappropriation.

Application linking via data connections allows modelers to map data that is used by simulation models onto data that resides ultimately in a separate or central data store. This approach lets the modeler adapt readily to changes in either the centralized data schema or the data requirements of the targeted modeling application.

On March 9, Autodesk announced the release of AutoCAD 2000. Its central marketing slogan for the program, "Where Design Connects"(tm), speaks to the focus on accessing and sharing information across applications. Its dbConnect(tm) feature provides a a civilizing interface for tying drawing entities to attributes that are maintained in external databases. Also in March, Autodesk and Haestad Methods, announced a joint commitment to cooperate toward connecting Autodesks Land Development Desktops Central Product Database with attributes held in Haestad Methods StormCAD and forthcoming applications.

Haestad Methods took steps in support of the enterprise by incorporating dynamic Database Connection Managers in its application frameworks central to Cybernet(r), WaterCAD(r)a and (new for 1999) StormCAD(r)a v3.0. These major releases give the modeler the ability to dynamically link with and exchange data with a variety of applications including centralized data repositories such as Oracle or SQL Server, GIS and CAD systems. Using these features modelers can establish a persistent bi-directional "Connection" between hydraulic models and relational and non-relational database management systems.

The GIS and Database Connection system is organized in three functional tiers: 1. Connections 2. Table or Shapefile Links 3. Field Links

The first tier is the Connection itself. To exchange data between the model and external files, a Connection is created, then synchronized. "Synchronize In" synchronizes the model to the data contained in external files. In this case, the model acts as a "consumer" of the data, and external files act as the data "provider". "Synchronize Out" synchronizes external files to the data contained in the model. Thus for Synchronize Out, the model is the data provider and external files are the consumers.

The second tier is the Table Link or Shapefile Link. Each Connection can contain one or more Table or Shapefile Links. Each of these links specifies the type of external file to exchange data with, the name of the file, and. if the file contains multiple tables, which table is of interest.

The third and final tier of the system is the Field Link. Each Table or Shapefile Link uses one or more Field Links to specify exactly which attributes in the external file are going to be exchanged. A Field Link defines the fundamental mapping between a field in an external file and a model attribute. For example, a field link may be used to "map" the GRND_FT field of an external database file to the Ground Elevation attribute of the model.

In summary, a Connection (either a Database Connection or a Shapefile Connection) defines a link between the model and external files. Table or Shapefile Links and Field Links are used to specify files, tables, and fields to be linked. Once a Connection is created, it can be synchronized in or out. The synchronization action will update models (in direction) or the external files (out direction).

Conference attendees are encouraged to visit the Haestad Methods booth to gain a better understanding of the data connection approach to achieving integrated modeling within the utility enterprise.

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