AllyCAD Showcase

Buffalo City Municipality

Buffalo City Municipality

"With the right attitude and commitment to your goals, you can basically achieve anything," says Phil Farrant, GIS Manager for Buffalo City Municipality. Phil is a man with an incredible vision; he is passionate about ArcGIS and has introduced AllyCAD as the ideal feeder to the existing GIS system

"What makes AllyCAD so fantastic, is the construction and geometry lines, it really is out of this world! You can position the sewers and the services accurately and then export shape files, straight into GIS. This has helped us tremendously and has resulted in greater control," notes Phil.

Buffalo City Municipality is currently in the process of converting their extensive AllyCAD data into a comprehensive GIS model, a process that has turned out to be no easy task. "We have converted most of our line drawings. The different divisions have progressed at a fair pace especially the Sewerage, Waterworks and Electricity departments. The problem however, is that departments are short staffed and there is not enough capacity or resources. I have discussed this with the IDP Manager and Director of Engineering and this has resulted in a greater drive to put these services onto the GIS system."

A big reason why the transfer of GIS data has received priority is because of its web-based nature. "All the services are displayed on the intranet and management and staff can view them at any time. This allows employees to view attribute databases and existing services when necessary."

"Fortunately the teams in our technical working groups are also skilled technical people with the majority of them being AllyCAD users. So when we sit down in our planning sessions to work out the best strategy on how to convert the data, these people are directly involved."

Buffalo City was without an effective Geographic Information System for about seven years from 1996 to 2002. "We found the transitional period where the GIS system was being absorbed into the IT department to be incredibly difficult."

"Generally, our strategy is to capture the spatial locations using the functionality available in AllyCAD and then transfer these into GIS. The problem is that the work has fallen behind. The transition from East London and King Williams Town municipalities along with a huge rural area into Buffalo City Municipality has meant that the work load in capturing all the services has increased ten-fold while the staff compliment has largely remained the same."

According to Phil, AllyCAD has solved the feeder problem in ArcView GIS. "When we came up with the strategy to use AllyCAD as a feeder, the staff were very excited. It is such a fantastic capture tool and it supports the Integrated Development Planning (IDP) methodology in its entirety.

The IDP is a set of guidelines that all municipalities have to conform to. It looks at economic growth, spatial distribution and the allocation of funds in the right areas.
  This book of guidelines was first introduced in 2002 and all municipalities have to conform to them. It was developed according to the needs of the community so decisions are made in an integrated manner by means of public participation."

Phil is convinced that the future of GIS is fairly secure. "There is a growing demand to see spatial data and eventually this kind of information will become accessible to anyone on the Internet. The first step however, is to have the GIS placed into various customer care or information centres. I foresee that this will happen in the next five to ten years, perhaps even sooner. The days where you have to climb into your car, make an appointment with an official and then organise a copy of the relevant information will soon become a thing of the past. The only stumbling block to this vision is the shortage of staff because we definitely have the technology," Farrant says with conviction.

Besides serving on the GIS steering committee, most of Phil's business dealings are done internally. "The nice thing about GIS and any other sort of spatial representation is that it underlines every single activity in the municipality. There is very little data within the municipal environment that cannot be displayed spatially. Even staff in the health and social services has a need for GIS. The biggest bonus is that AllyCAD supports it as a feeder."

Contract workers are used to update data onto the GIS system. "We get the cadastral data from the survey department and use aerial photographs every five years to trace site plans. In addition, the financial information, which is downloaded from the mainframe computer, comes from the treasury department. Information is also downloaded from the valuations database, the Deeds Office and the Building Control department which, when integrated into the GIS, gives us very useful strategic information for planning.

"In addition, spatial and attribute information is also retrieved from the sewerage, electrical and water services departments. We rely quite heavily on a comprehensive roads centreline database for accident statistics, pavement management systems, nodes etc. The GIS system is ideal for storing this type of information."

The scope of Buffalo City Municipality is fairly extensive. "The municipality serves about 1 000 000 clients and has a size of 2, 500 square kilometres. It is therefore impossible to serve the entire area without an adequate GIS system, but we are coping fairly well at the moment. When Buffalo City Municipality won a Special Achievements in GIS award at the 2004 annual ESRI user conference, I knew that this was only the beginning of many amazing achievements still to come." It is clear that with Phil's unwavering determination, there is very little that will stand in his path to success.

image Phil Farrant worked for the City of East London 30 years ago when he started out as a humble draftsman. "In 1985 we bought our first technical computer, the HP9817. It had Cecile CAD (the forerunner of AllyCAD), Roads and Sewer design programs on it. This is where the computer bug first hit me." Phil studied his National IT Certificate through Technikon South Africa and then became heavily involved in Roads design, GIS and CAD. He is the GIS Manager for Buffalo City Municipality and has successfully integrated AllyCAD as a feeder into their GIS System.

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