Interview: Autodesk's Carol Bartz

Beneath the surface, CAD has a lot to do with goverment IT

"GIS is not so much of a killer app, but a core technology component for federal agencies." 'Carol Bartz

Carol Bartz has spent nearly 14 years steering Autodesk Inc., developer of some of the most popular computer-aided design software in the world. If you've ever built any complex models on a PC or workstation, you probably know the AutoCAD products.
In the coming months, Bartz will wind down her tenure at the helm of Autodesk, assuming the position of executive chairman of the board while turning over the CEO reins to current chief operating officer Carl Bass. But first she'll address the crowd at this year's FOSE tradeshow in Washington.

In the weeks leading up to FOSE, Bartz shared with GCN her take on government IT issues, data sharing and geographic information systems. Among the company's new initiatives is a dedicated Autodesk Government organization, which will develop products, according to Bartz, 'that integrate geospatial, design and engineering data with other mission-critical information to reduce the time it takes to make informed decisions.'

Autodesk will host a government users' conference May 17 in Washington. For details, visit Bartz's FOSE keynote is Tuesday, March 7 at 1:00 p.m.'Brad Grimes

GCN: Do you expect that government IT workers will be surprised to hear from the leader in CAD?

Bartz: Autodesk has strengths in many of the critical federal technology areas that require the creation, management and sharing of precision data, including CAD, [geographic information systems], simulation and training, and building architecture and design. I don't think the government IT workers in those areas will be surprised to hear from us; they already know the value of our software and solutions to their mission objectives.

GCN: Can you give us a preview of what you'll say this week?

Bartz: Key issues faced by federal projects include asset and infrastructure management, data aggregation and sharing, security and doing more with fewer resources. Each of these areas can gain significant improvements from using our newest generation of design software and services. ... These solutions and services have moved from tactical roles to strategic ones. I'm talking about much more than 2-D CAD. Projects include buildings and building complexes, spatial and GIS data, infrastructure systems, hardware, and visualization and simulation.

In normal, day-to-day operations, our solutions deliver significant productivity and quality improvements, leading to powerful new ways to do more with less. But federal agencies face much tougher problems. They must react quickly and effectively to the management of critical incidents'including terrorism and natural disasters. They need to very quickly access, analyze, visualize and communicate precise data. Interoperable, open-standards solutions provide a strong foundation for future innovation. They set the stage for further improvements that will result in even more quickly and easily converging multiple types of data.

GCN: Where in government have Autodesk's products traditionally been used?

Bartz: Autodesk's products and solutions have been used in almost every facet of federal information technology. In the defense sector, our products have been used in government manufacturing, telemaintenance, command and control, intelligence support, battle theater visualization, base installation development, and military training and simulation. Civilian agencies have been using our products for property development, agricultural visualization, land management, and emergency/crisis preplanning and management.

A good example is the use of Autodesk's infrastructure solutions at Patrick Air Force Base, headquarters of the 45th Space Wing. ... To manage its four bases including Cape Canaveral, the Space Wing uses our integrated, end-to-end solutions and Oracle Spatial to create, edit and publish spatial data that integrates CAD and GIS in an open, flexible way.

The benefits are significant, [giving] users timely, accurate location-based information. Using a Web browser and a plug-in, authorized users can build maps that incorporate everything from aerial photographs, to floor plans, to as-built drawings. And they've eliminated 75 percent of all custom map requests. Knowing where incidents are taking place and what assets might be impacted allows the Space Wing to make better decisions and enhance mission effectiveness.

GCN: Autodesk has increasingly incorporated GIS into its products. Is GIS some kind of next-generation killer app that could change the way organizations operate?

Bartz: GIS is not so much of a killer app, but a core technology component for federal agencies. Citizens and federal employees alike have a fundamental need to evaluate multiple data streams and sources in a world-referenced context. We are seeing this demand grow significantly in several key areas including net-centric warfare, where a fully integrated view of the theater of operation is required for decision superiority; disaster preparedness and recovery, where responder teams must rapidly compile location-based data, monitor assets, and make this information available when and where needed during a time of critical crisis; security and threat analysis; and physical property management.

It is no longer good enough for the government IT worker to have GIS data. They need that GIS data to be fully integrated with other types of precision data, such as building infrastructure, polygonal or even video data.

GCN: Collaboration also has become a huge topic of conversation in government IT circles.

Bartz: Several of the trends that are emerg- ing in today's government applications re- quire information and intelligence to be decentralized and pushed to the edge, thus driving collaborative technology. No- where is this more true than in government design and project management applications. Our collaboration solutions help government agencies and integrators manage and share design, product and project information across the entire program team or government enterprise. Through the shared portal technology of Buzzsaw and the advanced visualization platform of Drawing Web For- mat, [our] collaboration solutions enable teams to speed design, construction and manufacturing processes, resulting in reduced costs and the ability to meet critical agency timelines.


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