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FBSIC – an innovative tool based on GIS technology

Posted: 19 September 2012 | Luís Mata, CEO, Ferbritas | No comments yet

Railway infrastructure managers and operators are huge property owners, managing important railway facility and infrastructure territories. Due to the historical background of the railway industry, valuable real estate assets can be found, and there are certain regulations concerned with urban and suburban environments associated with railway lines, stations, logistic terminals and interfaces, yards and workshops, etc.

The duty of railways to ensure compliance with requirements associated to urban/regional planning of territories, and the need to make adjustments in order to adapt to changing mobility conditions and transport markets (passengers and freight), has historically forced railway companies to introduce functional and topological changes that often disregarded the economic optimisation of property use.

There are many ways to implement real estate/leasing initiatives that can turn into signifi – cant money-making opportunities for the core business of railway entities, while contributing to increasing the transportation market.

Railway infrastructure managers and operators are huge property owners, managing important railway facility and infrastructure territories. Due to the historical background of the railway industry, valuable real estate assets can be found, and there are certain regulations concerned with urban and suburban environments associated with railway lines, stations, logistic terminals and interfaces, yards and workshops, etc.The duty of railways to ensure compliance with requirements associated to urban/regional planning of territories, and the need to make adjustments in order to adapt to changing mobility conditions and transport markets (passengers and freight), has historically forced railway companies to introduce functional and topological changes that often disregarded the economic optimisation of property use.There are many ways to implement real estate/leasing initiatives that can turn into signifi - cant money-making opportunities for the core business of railway entities, while contributing to increasing the transportation market.

Railway infrastructure managers and operators are huge property owners, managing important railway facility and infrastructure territories. Due to the historical background of the railway industry, valuable real estate assets can be found, and there are certain regulations concerned with urban and suburban environments associated with railway lines, stations, logistic terminals and interfaces, yards and workshops, etc.

The duty of railways to ensure compliance with requirements associated to urban/regional planning of territories, and the need to make adjustments in order to adapt to changing mobility conditions and transport markets (passengers and freight), has historically forced railway companies to introduce functional and topological changes that often disregarded the economic optimisation of property use.

There are many ways to implement real estate/leasing initiatives that can turn into signifi – cant money-making opportunities for the core business of railway entities, while contributing to increasing the transportation market.

But organisations cannot afford to waste time – investors require timely and quality information. The organisation must therefore conduct efficient and effective research so that it understands a variety of components, such as: what they have; where it is; what are the rights and responsibilities; what is essential to the core business; what the potential profitability is; and what the opportunities are.

This is a very serious issue, not only for the purpose of getting the best profitable result from real estate or leasing operations, but also due to liabilities and taxation.

Each network, private or public, has its own structure but one thing regarding property and real estate control is common among them: information. When it exists, it often relies on old paper documents deposited in ‘dark’ basements of buildings or warehouses and it is not easy to gather knowledge from information under these conditions. This situation has been recognised in several European and African networks, as well as among North American and Canadian Class I operators.

Ferbritas Cadastral Information System (FBSIC) is all about improving this situation, using state-of-the-art tools based on geo – graphical information technology.

Ferbritas is a Portuguese company, owned by REFER, and has been committed to the transportation sector for almost 40 years. The company is particularly devoted to railway consultancy and engineering with highly skilled personnel covering the entire life cycle of railway infrastructure and operations (passenger and freight traffic, high-speed, conventional and light-rail).

Among the large scope of activities and expertise, Ferbritas also performs cadastre surveying and land acquisition, including process management and execution, as well as asset management.

Due to these continuous activities, our teams dedicated to cadastre surveying and expropriations have a long and solid experience, both out in the field and at the office, which has allowed us to optimise work and business process design, identify requirements and improve procedures concerning data collecting, systematisation, consolidation and management.

Since FBSIC became fully operational in 2010, Ferbritas has been able to present the results of the on-going process of cadastre recovery for REFER, the Portuguese Railway Infrastructure Manager, as well as the use of FBSIC on a pilot experience to produce a National Cadastre.

The cadastre concept

A cadastre is an official register of real estate quantity, value, and ownership, used as a basis of tax payment, recording property boundaries, building and related details. It’s all about the territory and it always begins with land.

When we refer to a land cadastre, applied to railway land assets or (generally speaking) about the territory, we must relate two main variables: property and ownership.

The key relies on establishing and maintaining an organised and structured database, which identifies land property in all its aspects – physical, descriptive, legal and tax – allowing to relate information concerning the property – topographic, cartographic, physical, documental and alphanumeric – and the ownership – documental and alphanumeric. The point is:

  • How well do we know and understand the territory/property that we possess?
  • Is there appropriate information and knowledge available in a means which allows us to create synergies, rationalise and profit from it?
  • Is there potential to explore?

Within a railway organisation, cadastre control is an important issue to several activities that should be developed over the railway domain.

To develop and manage the business, railway infrastructure managers and operators must maintain relationships with several official authorities and other external entities that require land cadastre information.

Also, internal departments need to know the railway domain in order to perform their mission in an efficient and effective manner (business development, planning, engineering, maintenance, administrative and finance bodies, etc.).

In conclusion, cadastre control is a basic and strategic issue, not only from the point of view of taking advantage from possessions and profiting from them, but also for the general performance of the organisation and its relations with external entities.

Why was FBSIC developed?

We designed and developed FBSIC because there was a need for it, and there is nothing similar on the information technologies market.

It all began some years ago with the simple awareness that:

  • The railway is a centenary industry ]
  • During the life cycle of a railway, several generations of people produce information about it as well as different organisations and entities
  • Information is not knowledge and both are valuable assets
  • Organisations must maintain performance for future development.

Public disclosure of FBSIC on national and inter – national forums related to GIS and geospatial business has already attracted the attention of specialised organisations that awarded the following recognitions:

  • 2010 – Project of Excellency on GIS, by ESRI Portugal, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 2011 – Special Achievement Award on GIS (SAG), by ESRI Inc., Redlands, California, USA
  • 2011 – Vector 1 Magazine, Berlin, Germany, included FBSIC in the Top Ten Features 2011.

It is not only a matter of gathering accurate information – the purpose is to deliver knowledge that enables business growth.

FBSIC – an innovative tool based on GIS technology

The FBSIC is a tailor-made web application, supported on Esri technology, and a powerful and multifaceted work tool that:

  • Is usable in and out doors
  • Is developed to ensure decentralised use
  • Is a repository of geographic, documental and alphanumeric information
  • Covers operational and legal requirements of cadastral information
  • Allows to view, query, and edit geographical and alphanumeric information of land parcels
  • Offers quality control mechanisms of cadastre and land ownership
  • Allows effective follow-up and monitoring processes
  • Ensures rapid query from local and remote workstations
  • Ensures the production of tailormade reports
  • Allows selection and automatic printing of maps, in any format, by users without any specific knowledge of other tools, for example, CAD
  • Ensures quick generation and printing of official documents or others required b y the client
  • Includes a module for final approval of processes (internal or external clients)
  • Provides efficient and effective changes management, providing immediate updates, in real-time, and on paper if necessary
  • The value that FBSIC returns is an expo – nential trend line once the database is enriched
  • It is completely interoperable (SAP, document management systems and other ERP)
  • Ensures the implementation of information access policies
  • Includes quality control tools (production and information consistency).

FBSIC is supported in a scalable, standardsbased architecture of information and comm – unication technology, and is interoperable, which ensures a sustainable long-term solution.

FBSIC was designed to support a variety of complementary correlated railway activities: from simple cadastre and domain control to acquisition or expropriation projects regarding new infrastructures or upgrading purposes.

Currently, FBSIC consists of the following seven different modules:

Data migration

Alphanumeric and geographic, includes features for info validation.

Field

Supports all the necessary activities concerning field information surveying.

Information processing

Ensures the import and validation of collected field data.

Central

Provides tools which enable the loading and editing of alphanumeric, geographical and documental information, controls the quality of the project phases and their transitions (workflow) and prints maps and formal documents, among other features.

Back office

Module used by the system administrator.

Approval

Enables approval cycles of data sets to be carried out for a given action or initiative with welldefined outlines.

Domain

Property management – private and public domains.

FBSIC benefits are recognised at operational efficiency level, by the inclusion of tools which enable process integration and procedures standardisation, facilitate analysis and quality control, maximise performance, gathers cadastral information, including for purposes of land acquisition and expropriations processes, maintenance and management.

The deployed system reaches levels of robustness, comprehensiveness, openness, reliability and scalability, suitable for a structuring platform.

FBSIC tools allow for unique professional managing of the entire life cycle of cadastre and land acquisition processes, including supporting field activities and direct integration of the information collected, the preparation of analysis and multi-criteria information and project control in the operation phase.

The integrating nature of FBSIC’s archi – tecture allows current needs to be framed; foreseeing the possibility of the platform evolution in order to satisfy future services.

The experience achieved in the use of FBSIC in real situations proves its consistency and concludes that this highly innovative tool fulfills and completely complies with the purpose of enhancing the accuracy and significantly increasing productivity in the cadastral and domain recovery processes.

FBSIC distinguishes itself by its efficiency and effectiveness in querying, editing and printing documents, by users without specific skills or training on specialised drawing tools or other software.

Depending on the characteristics of the organisation and the information available, it can take some time to create a full and accurate database. However, if the right priorities are taken, with a proper planning e.g. by selecting relevant segments of network with high potential, then results appear earlier and progress on an exponential trend.

Cadastre control contributes to cost reduction associated with inefficiencies, taxation, liabilities, maintenance, etc. It also increases general and specific efficiencies, effectiveness and cost/benefit optimisation related to key activities of operators and infrastructure managers: engineering, maintenance, lease, network upgrading and development, special facilities, etc.

 

About the author

Luís Mata graduated in civil engineering with a master’s degree in management. Luís has been the CEO of Ferbritas since 2008 and Member of the Board of Directors since 2005, after being Engineering Director, Quality and IT Director and Project Manager. Since the 1980s, Luís has been dedicated to transport planning and system management in private and public environments.

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