Using published digital files to update utility data


At times it may be common for people to underestimate the interest a
local municipal government has in maintaining an accurate inventory of
their utility infrastructures. But to a public works employee, knowing
what is out the field and where to go when a line needs repair is
essential if any work is going to be done. Although there are various
methods for collecting utility information including hand drawn maps or
computer aided designs, the Village of Morton Grove is using a
Geographic Information System (GIS) that not only holds the line work of
the utility system but also handles the attributes of each structure as
it is out in the field (i.e. 8 inch water main with a material of
ductile iron).

More importantly though, are the efficient methods that can be used
in order to keep this digital data up to date so that the field crews
and engineers can have trust in the GIS. While most contracted projects
are designed in some sort type of Computer Aided Design (CAD) format,
there are times when a municipality only receives an image of this
design in a PDF format. This format is not preferred but it is surely
not to be seen as waste. The ability to convert a PDF image to a JPEG
image and then spatially rectify this drawing using tools within the GIS
is quite easy. Better yet, there is even technology that will convert a
PDF into digital lines that can then be copied into your existing
inventory and attributed properly. Either way you slice it, you now have
an accurate representation of proposed design that can be used to make
updates to your current utility infrastructure, much better than
estimating the true locations of these lines. Talk about being