Josh Symonds

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Josh Symonds

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Automated 3d Clash detection – Sydney Light Rail

Josh Symonds, Spatial Data Specialist – Arup


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5 Things You Will Learn

  1. How to utilise various technologies and software solutions to provide quality outputs / results for the client
  2. Utilising FME to combine, manipulate and validate various data inputs in a hierarchical method to enrich data providing an accurate and detailed output for informed decision making
  3. How to apply the Australian Standard AS5488 classification of subsurface utility information to large projects
  4. How to automate the generation of geometry at scale, validate and recreate survey accurate geometry in 3d
  5. Data life cycling and project information management techniques

Target Audience

  • Asset managers / owners
  • BIM specialists
  • Engineers
  • Surveyors
  • Geospatial specialists
  • Project managers
  • Constructors
  • FME users
  • Data management specialists

Presentation Overview

The Sydney Light Rail project was set to transform the city, but disparate documentation of the underground utilities affecting the route posed challenges to the complex design and project delivery. This presentation details how Arup have devised a technical workflow that enables engineers from different disciplines collaborate more effectively through a GIS centric 3D clash detection process.

This project revolutionised how engineers and designers from different disciplines can communicate data while working together. The process gathers 3D geometry and attributes, and individual utility and alignments from various design software formats including 12d and AutoCAD into a central repository ESRI geodatabase. This up-to-date information is then shared out in the formats that work with the applications each department prefers, geodatabase, a spreadsheet, and an ArcGIS Server web portal enabling everyone to work with the latest data in a familiar environment. Previously undertaken manually, the clash detection process required 3 weeks effort for every utility model and alignment update.

The different application formats that utility model and rail alignment data were stored in prevented automated clash detection until data transformation technology FME was introduced. This new centralised and automated approach operated hands-free in hours, performing data updates and ensuring that information is current for design efforts. This better informed design environment enabled the project team to address clash issues much faster. ESRI’s ArcGIS app to allow the engineers access to the latest alignment, utility model and clash results whilst in the field.

This location based access to complex geospatial data gave them a much better understanding of the current status of the project, and changed the way they thought about GIS and the benefits it can bring to a complicated engineering design project shaping a city. Project awarded, Engineers Australia – Sydney Engineering Excellence Awards, Highly Commended for Software and Embedded Systems.


Josh is a Spatial Data Specialist, with experience in the documentation of infrastructure projects comprising of road, rail, and utility coordination with advanced working knowledge of Feature Manipulation Engine (FME), Spatial databases, GIS and CADD customisation. Since joining Arup, Josh has been responsible for the documentation and detailed design for bridges, cut and cover tunnels, mined tunnels, utility diversions, road and civil works.

In addition, Josh has also played a key role in the creation of the CADD customisation used to support a number of Arup projects across Australasia. Josh provides GIS & Big Data / Data Analytics support for the Transport and Resources teams across various offices and is responsible for GIS & Big Data implementation on infrastructure related projects. This includes sourcing and conversion of all data for the project into the best suit for the application. In addition he also been responsible for developing and introducing GIS/FME skills to the Australasian region – this provides automation of tasks and activities whilst seamlessly integrating CADD and GIS to provide the best possible information for design, documentation and analysis.