A case study describing the evolution of  a corporate GIS in the municipality of Pirot, under a project originally funded by the European Reconstruction Agency.


About MapSoft

The Serbian company MapSoft d.o.o ('MapSoft') is a respected supplier of software and services to the GIS market in Serbia and surrounding territories. The company was founded in 2002 by academics from the Department for Geodesy and Geoinformatics in the Faculty of Civil Engineering, at the University of Belgrade

MapSoft specialises in mapping, aerial and terrestrial photogrammetry, topographic and cadastral surveying, and in delivering GIS solutions customised to their clients' needs.

MapSoft became a Cadcorp partner in 2011. Željko Cvijetinović , co-owner of MapSoft explains his interest in Cadcorp: “The Serbian market is characterized by a multiplicity of different software systems and data formats. Cadcorp is well-known for the ability of its products to coexist with other systems. We see Cadcorp SIS fulfilling a role for our customers not just as another GIS, but also as central repository capable of serving multiple systems and applications."

Chronology

In 2011 MapSoft was successful in winning a contract to deliver a corporate GIS to Pirot Municipality – Serbia’s 3rd largest municipality in extent - and decided to use Cadcorp SIS as a key component of their GIS software solution. In fact, the origins of this project date from six years earlier, when MapSoft was commissioned to define a strategic vision for the development of GIS in Pirot, under a project funded by European Reconstruction Agency as a part of the ‘Exchange 1’ support programme for local government in Serbia.

Location Map - Pirot Municipality

The location of Pirot Municipality in south east Serbia [1]

The starting point for the Exchange 1 project was the premise that GIS had the ability to bring about efficiency improvements in local government, as seen in these statements by Cvijetinović and Mitrović in the final report, [1]

“The primal objective of introducing the GIS methodology in the work of Pirot Municipality structure is to achieve more efficient work of local government.”[1]

and

“The ability of Municipal GIS to integrate spatial and nonspatial data, as well as to support analysis and process modelling, makes it a good platform for the integration of business processes and activities of multiple departments of local administration and other municipal institutions and agencies. In that sense, Municipal GIS should be considered as a basic element of e-government.”[1]

In 2005, as part of the Exchange 1 project, MapSoft carried out a thorough analysis of the way in which the different public agencies in Pirot were managing spatial information. MapSoft consultants didn’t limit their analysis to the town hall and its immediate departments; they also surveyed companies and corporations owned by the municipality (the land development agency, environmental health, the town planning agency and the water and sewage, and district heating companies), as well as organisations owned by the Serbian state (the electrical and the telecommunications operators) and the real estate cadastral unit.

What MapSoft discovered was that although most of the agencies surveyed were using database software of some kind, only one agency – the real estate cadastral unit – was using GIS, and this in a very limited way. Where graphic software was used in the municipality, it was more likely to be CAD software than GIS. Most maps were in fact analogue and many were out of date.  Finally, the consultants discovered that there was not one but several different addressing systems in use.

Locally-funded data capture and conversion projects

These findings prompted Pirot municipality to prepare the ground work for the introduction of a corporate GIS, and the municipality embarked on a number of locally-funded data-capture and conversion projects with MapSoft. The most important of these projects were:

  • Production of digital orthophoto (DOF) at a resolution 0:25 and 0.50m
  • Creation of digital topographic maps (DTK) at a scale of 1: 5000
  • Creation of an official address system (in cooperation with the real estate cadastre office).

The EU Exchange 3 project

In 2011 MapSoft was awarded a contract under the Exchange 3 programme [2] [3] to implement the vision of a Municipal GIS they had set out five years earlier. They accomplished this by developing four GIS subsystems (described in the Final Report [4])

  • for the maintenance of public lighting; 
  • for the maintenance of roads, streets,traffic sign and signals;
  • for communal infrastructure;
  • and for other resources under the municipality’s remit (e.g. pollution, demographics)

Database and data model

MapSoft decided to create a GIS database for each Municipal GIS subsystem, and implemented these databases on Microsoft SQL Server. Each database holds the following spatial data sets: orthophoto maps, scanned topographic and cadastral maps, digital topographic map data, digital cadastral maps, address register data, spatial units data, and other data sets specific to each stakeholder.

MapSoft also created metadata describing each dataset in terms of data quality and other information on database contents (the origin of certain sets of data, method, accuracy and precision of data, time of data creation, spatial coverage, etc.).

It was judged that systems development and implementation would be simplified by building all four Municipal GIS subsystems on a common data model, with common application functionality. Software designers stored as much of the business logic as possible within the database itself using data modelling and stored procedures and triggers. The objective was to allow the same logic to be used throughout the different software applications, whether their function is to create, update or processing data.

Municipal GIS – the functional modules

All subsystems were implemented with the following common functionality [4]:

  • Work order processing
  • A log of works
  • Reporting (for the general public to report issues)
  • A project dossier (linking group of documents to a geographic location)
  • Administration (access rights etc.)
  • Spatial data management (display, editing, metadata).

Cadcorp SIS – its strengths

Each GIS subsystem uses a combination of Cadcorp SIS and Open Source software. The reasons for selecting Cadcorp SIS were listed in the final report as follows [4]:

  • Interoperability of the software (support to ISO TC 287 and OGC standards, ability to read and write data from many data sources);
  • Support for customisation (.NET programming, easy creation of new symbols, etc.)
  • Reasonable pricing, including maintenance costs;
  • A wealth of functionality (spatial analysis, CAD tools, web services, GIS server);
  • An intuitive user interface, even for GIS non-professionals;
  • The same software engine is used for the whole software range (desktop, server, web)

GIS Servers and Cadcorp GeognoSIS®

Web technology is at the heart of Municipal GIS. Spatial data is maintained and stored within the service, institution or agency responsible for that data. Distribution of the data to other GIS users is via a web GIS server which provides access to both central (remote) and local GIS databases. Both Open Source and Cadcorp GeognoSIS are used as GIS servers. MapSoft identified the strengths of GeognoSIS as follows:

“(Cadcorp GeognoSIS) is quite efficient and capable of serving large quantity of data to a great number of concurrent users. One of the strongest advantages of GeognoSIS is its ability to directly read all the data sources and datasets directly without any requirements for data conversion or special preparation for publishing. Therefore, updated data can be served directly from databases where they are being maintained. GeognoSIS is selected as a platform for implementing the GIS server within municipality administration. This GIS server will provide access to Municipal GIS datasets for all Internet and intranet users that do not have GIS desktop available.”[4]

Land use maps on the publicly accessible Municipal Web Geoportal

Land use maps on the publicly accessible Municipal Web Geoportal, powered by Cadcorp GeognoSIS

Web applications and Web Map Layers

Web-based access to Municipal GIS data is via Cadcorp Web Map Layers and Open Layers software. “Both of these web applications (written in JavaScript) offer a lot of functionalities required by the administration of the municipality and its companies and agencies. They also provide a lot of customisation possibilities and possibilities for the development of additional custom functionalities (web services).”[4]

Desktop SIS

MapSoft selected Cadcorp SIS 7.1 as the desktop GIS software used for spatial data acquisition, processing, maintenance, analysis, cartographic reporting and preparation for spatial data publishing.

“It has been realized that this software works very well with data stored in the Microsoft SQL Server database. The software is also very efficient in handling both raster data (scanned maps and digital orthophoto) and vector data (ESRI Shapefiles, DWG drawings, etc.). On-the-fly re-projection of the data is also supported which is very important. Map symbol libraries are created for spatial features that are to be maintained within the Municipal GIS subsystems (traffic signs and signals, communal resources, etc.). Cadcorp SIS makes it really easy to prepare the spatial dataset for publishing via web services (WMS, WFC and others) through GeognoSIS.”[4]

Cadcorp SIS desktop used for the maintenance of roads, streets and traffic signals

Cadcorp SIS desktop used for the maintenance of roads, streets and traffic signals [3]

MapSoft judged that very little customisation of desktop software was required for the creation and management of spatial data. “Most of these functionalities were already implemented and available in Cadcorp SIS software. Only minor customizations were required. Most of the customisation was related to the adjustments of map display:

  • "specification of map projections used in Serbia;
  • map symbols libraries (traffic horizontal and vertical signals and signs, symbols for POI’s, symbols for utilities networks – waste water supply, sewer, heating, electrical power distribution, telecommunication);
  • feature tables (display of spatial feature according to attribute values);
  • themes (display according to current map scale, etc.).”[4]

What makes Municipal GIS a generic application?

Cvijetinović has summarised the distinctive features and architecture of Municipal GIS as follows [4]:

  • “The GIS database can be accessed concurrently via desktop and Intranet/Internet, without the need for data conversion.
  • Data models and applications have been developed and implemented for the management of all spatial features.
  • The entry, maintenance, and complex analysis of data is possible using desktop GIS tools that operate directly on the GIS database, without requiring any middleware layer.
  • An open interface makes it possible to implement vertical applications in the future. These might involve for example, automated business processes, complex data processing and analysis, and the maintenance of thematic content.  Users can extend existing data model using RDBMS administration tools, without impacting the functioning of the GIS.
  • There is concurrent access to raster, vector and other data from the GIS database.
  • The solution provides the highest possible level of scalability. This can be achieved by simply acquiring additional licenses in conjunction with additional hardware, where necessary. Scaling the solution does not require the replacement of modules or changes to the system architecture.
  • The open architecture makes it possible to integrate with other databases and processes.
  • The data models of all the applications have been implemented as relational models in the GIS subsystem databases (Microsoft SQL Server database).
  • All Web applications are in the Serbian language.”

In developing Municipal GIS, MapSoft has created what is in effect a template for local government GIS in Serbia.

References

[1] Cvijetinović, Z, Mitrović, M, (2006) “The GIS Development Strategy for Pirot Municipality”, Pirot

[2] CimbaljevićI, M, BučićI,A,  JovanovićII, M, (2014) “The Importance of Introducing GIS and its Application on a Local Government Level – An Experience from Serbia”, Researches Reviews of the Department of Geography, Tourism and Hotel Management, 43-2/2014

[3] Razvoj geografskog informacionog sistema (GIS) u opštini Pirot, Exchange 3, Opštinski projekat, Opštini Pirot & Delegacija Evropske Unije U Republici Srbiji

[4] Cvijetinović, Z, (2011) “The Development of the Geographic Information System of Pirot Municipality”, Final Report, 07SER01/02/4, Belgrade