The Qatari Central Planning Office (CPO) has been set up to help the country cost-effectively coordinate and plan for major events, such as the FIFA World Cup, and Qatar’s National Vision 2030, which is a long-term goal for Qatar to become an ‘advanced’ country with features including improved infrastructure.
Due to space constraints in Doha – Qatar’s largest city – planning was essential to enable the country to identify potential challenges with introducing changes, such as multiple transport links.
“Technology was an important part of solving the problem,” said Daniel Monk, Atkins associate GIS (geographic information systems) consultant, who was a part of a team of 15 people working to establish the CPO over two years.
The Esri-based planning systems that Atkins developed had both spatial and non-spatial data loaded into them. Atkins used SharePoint 2010 in a SharePoint farm, an FME Server 2012 and Esri’s ArcGIS 10.1 software.
“This dealt with the spatial problem,” said Monk. “[It enabled us] to provide a spatial database, to plot spatial information and to publish our services.”
Monk said that Esri was chosen because it is a proven technology, very scalable and able to accommodate the project’s increasing demand.
For instance, the systems required a “good number of gigs” of spatial and non-spatial data to be collected in the systems.
“We had a SAN [storage area network] of six terabytes and we exceeded that by one and a half,” said Monk.
The Esri software, which allows users to visualise and interrogate the data, was also easily integrated with other technologies, such as SharePoint. For example, a SharePoint site could be created to give engineers a single access point to spatial and non-spatial information.
Atkins also used Oracle’s Primavera P6 project management software to pull across scheduling information, and SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) at the SQL server level.
One of the biggest challenges that Atkins came across was to create an archive of maps. The CPO required a record of each decision point, and GIS data was updated weekly, sometimes daily, which led to the creation of thousands of maps.
“If we did it through a map server, it would take too much space,” said Suja Sudhan, Atkins senior GIS consultant.
So, using Esri API, Atkins created a mashup solution that allowed smaller map snapshot files to be created and held in the SharePoint repository, as an archive.
“So we could create thousands of maps without a map server,” said Sudhan.
Atkins’ role in establishing the CPO has now ended, and the local Qatari government will now take over the running of the planning office.