Checking in: Using SDE technology to perform multi-user database edits

​Allowing multiple users to edit the same database within a Geographic
Information System (GIS) system can often be very important to
maintaing an efficient and steady workflow. While it’s possible for one
database user to make edits and then have another user make additional
edits on the same database, this approach can be risky as data can be
lost or corrupted. To help avoid this situation the City of Des
Plaines implemented a SDE-based approach to managing its sewer utility
system that allows for more than one user to perform edits on a set of
data with the capability to review the changes to ensure data integrity
is maintained.

The event that directed the city to use this approach was the
purchase of a sewer televising software that allows for the city’s GIS
sewer data to be viewed and edited in the field through an ESRI® mapping
interface. While providing the primary sewer utility database to the
city’s public works field crews was an option, it was not practical for
the city’s utility update workflow. With edits being performed to the
sewer system both in the field and in the office, an alternate approach
needed to be adopted that would permit edits to be performed in both
locations without the risk of data being over-written.

The resulting workflow involved using an SDE method of database
managment called a ”check out”. This approach allows for multiple
snapshots of the primary database to be created and distributed for
editing. These snapshots capture the current state of the data (i.e.
spatial location of features, attributes, etc.) so that a user can work
with it as if they were working with the primary data source. Using
this method, multiple users can make edits using engineering drawing,
field-based edits, etc., without having to worry about data the being
lost. For the city’s sewer televising project, a ”check out” was
created to be used in the televising truck, allowing both the field
crews and the office staff to seemlessly continune their workflows.

Once edits are made, the ”check out” database is ”checked in” to the
primary database, which copies the changes made in the field database
over to the primary database in the office. Without SDE technolgy,
performing this action could be risky in terms of maintaing data
integrity, but the main advantage of using the SDE-based approach is
that edits made by different users to the same data can be compared
against each other. This ability to review the data before it is
permenantly added to the primary database greatly improves the stability
of using a multi-editor approach.

By taking advantage of SDE technolgy to assist with successfully
implementing a multi-user sewer utility editing approach, the City of
Des Plaines has helped to maximize the usefulness of the televising
software and the efficency of its utility editing workflow.