Caceres’ GIS

This is one of the projects that became a finalist for the award of the Be Inspired 2009 in the category of Cadastre and Land Development. They also made a presentation which was in charge of Luis Antonio Alvarez and Faustino Cordero, with a very good PPS presentation, videos and also a printed map. The day of the award I sat down and talked with them making time a bit enjoyable with the good feeling left by some wine toasts (Spanish Idiom “con lo que dejo el lagar”, after certain glasses of wine). With cruel humor we recognized that their Extremadura’s English had been a criminal shot to a Tiel’s dutch that balanced a moment with them. But it was good to know that another Hispanic project comes to the fore to inspire others; despite the squad needed to let your guard in place which is a topic that never ends.

Briefs notes from Caceres

It is a city of the Extremadura autonomous community, the second largest in population (92,000 inhabitants) and the largest in Spain (1.760 km2). The city was established by the Romans in the year 34 BC, and is a world heritage site since 1986.


Extremadura has outstanding technology projects such as GNULinEX operating system on the Linux kernel and SEXTANTE , which in complement with gvSIG, have a promising dissemination not only in the Spanish-speaking environment projects

Briefs notes from Caceres GIS

It’s interesting that almost all what has been achieved has been funded by the City Council; in 10 years there have been invested about 1.3 million Euros. But this same limitation has affected their progress, rather than on data collection but in the process automation and application of software. There is barely two regular staff dedicated to the topic, plus a contract that is renewed annually for the website’s management.

The data.  The wealth of data is invaluable; they have historical maps that are truly works of art, regulatory plans, orthophotos from different years, the most recent from them has a pixel of 10 cm. While National Cadastre provides them the plot, other surveys have been digitized before, so they have great amount of all municipalities’ information at 2D and 3D level.


The Software.  The tools used are: For Intranet, the one’s who produce data use MicroStation, Geographics or Powermap; Descartes and civil Power are used from time to time. For users of other units, Bentley Redline seems to have given them what they need and for output, publishing is made with Geoweb Publisher … all in V8.5 and a database in…!Access!

In total they have about 60 users who interact with spatial data and about 200 queries a day online. At client tier, they have built very good VBA applications to query and information display, some of these are also available online.

The institutionally.  By the context (Spain), many regulatory weaknesses have already been overcome; I mean the stability of technicians, who won’t be changed because the pleasing of any politician in office, as in many Hispanic countries. This seems to be good, but not everything is rosy, as managed funds to invest in the department must always be complicated.

Anyway, the institutional role, its regulations on the sale of services, agreements with local and national entities is one of the greatest strengths that the Caceres’ GIS have.

The publication. Its site offers plenty of data to separate between cartography, street and planning. There is enough published material, what they could it’s done via Geoweb Publisher: ActiveX for IExplorer users, for other browsers there are always deployment and configuration of layers but only as an image. The other data are used as a pdf


I rescue the publication, although it is obvious that there have been certain difficulties by their constraints in tools and human resource to develop it. For the case, they have failed in sending thematic dynamically which would be a good companion to data or a display with a tree of categories and attributes aside to just turn off or on depending on the interest, these would be great for historical comparison.


The strongest challenges

Reaching finalists has brought great satisfaction to these guys, not winning is roulette and a result of constraints that can be overcome. Even though they aren’t as simple as it seems.

The management of the economic resources. Perhaps this is the strongest Caceres’ GIS challenge, it is admirable what have done just three persons, but it will need to find doors in order to manage any subsidy. I assume that there should be ways to do this at European Union level, but it makes sense not to run and prepare a plan which identifies how to make gradual steps to balance between having more data, provide more service and develop sustainability of what has been achieved.


It would be necessary to sit down and egeomate (Spanish Idiom: “geofumar” in these case means let us produce a storm of creative ideas) in that environment; at the time while talking, we were thinking about possibilities of how to link the updating technologies to an updating services and taxpayers project; it would invest an amount of money in the update of some kind of taxes that are not being paid as they should and that some of this revenue should be invested in that department.

The technology update.  This topic makes, even in me, feel scary, but it must be done sooner or later; not because it’s on fashion, but because not taking care about it, collapses its sustainability. Moving from an Access database to an Oracle one, from Geographics to Bentley Map, or from Geoweb Publisher to Geospatial Server V8i, not only involves a licenses’ renewal therefore it affects the conformation of the data, recompilation of development and changing the way and place of many things that have changed over the years.

It is clear that new technology gives them the potential to connect and serve data with OGC standards, manage and provide better quality, but you have to measure the decision because for council members of a corporation such arguments may not be convincing.

The desire.  This challenge remains for the council, because there is plenty of work; It’s clear that they could stay with what they already have and the honor of being the finalist of be Inspired 2009, because finally their stability is such as to retire there. But in the expectation of being for 2016 the European Capital of Culture, if my intuition not deceives me, because these guys have in their eyes… they could be winning the Be Inspired in 2011.

An aside comment

Be Inspired prizes are not delivered by strategic location, Spain could be attractive, but normally the jury is composed of AEC specialists of private companies, universities, magazines or online media. Among the 20 jury members this year have been:

-Todd Danielson
GeoTec Media
-Braulio Agnese
Architect Magazine
-Mike Woolf
World Highways
-Joseph Francica
Directions Media
-Sisi Zlatanova
TU Delft
-Edwin Ecob
-Tom Sawyer
-Howard Turner
-Tom Fiske
Arc Advisory Group

After seeing one of the comments made to them in the exhibition and some jurors criteria applied in this type of competition, innovation (comparative) technology affected them in the awards, for 5 years ago (2004) it was presented a development project with features as:

  • Multilayer design, Oracle Database, 100% web transactional Management.
  • Controlled flow management, based on roles, linked to ProjectWise from the massive construction data, maps, scanning and extracted from old books, binds to the cadastral file, linking to the Land Registry (including scanned documents deployment) and maintenance to demand.
  • Microstation Geographics 8.5, yes, but with.NET applications to insert xml into the dgn by XFM (before Bentley Map was in use)
  • VPR publications with thematic data lifted from the Geoweb live Publisher
  • Application for cadastral maintenance in line with API redlines through users with controlled rights.
  • Cadastral maintenance flow from an online transaction lifted from the Geographics client, map’s check out from the main server, when the process ends the historical change is saved in the dgn and returns the check-in maintaining version control.
  • Automatic backup Routine and replication towards different repositories, including publication, searching for files that had undergone maintenance.


The environment of this project was quite different; it ran from a World Bank loan with institutional constraints of its context that are still in battle. The cost of that development walked by $ 270,000 (excluding licensing), justifiable to a project that required to carry at pc level activities resulting from a cadastral sweep at country level and modernization of the Land Registry including the change of personal folio to a real folio.

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