An overview of COGO

This topic applies to ArcEditor and ArcInfo only.

When surveyors or civil engineers need to record the location of human-made features, such as land parcels, road centerlines, utility easements containing transmission lines, and oil and gas leases, they typically provide the results on a survey plan that describes the location of features relative to each other. Below is an example survey plan that diagrammatically shows a road centerline and the edge of the land properties adjoining the road. The road centerline and parcel boundaries comprise a number of straight and curved lines.

Example COGO survey plan

Each line has measurements that describe it. A straight line has a direction and distance, while a curved line has a radius, angle, arc length, direction, and so on. These measurements are coordinate geometry descriptions. You can use these COGO descriptions to accurately re-create the features the surveyor captured. The survey plan also includes references to existing locations that help you to tie these new features into your GIS database. The reference could be the coordinates for a point or a measurement to a well-known location such as a control point, a road intersection, or an existing parcel corner.

Building blocks for COGO

These are the basic building blocks for COGO:

Creating features from COGO descriptions

The commands and dialog boxes in the ArcMap editing environment for creating features from COGO descriptions are integrated into the editing experience. The common commands and dialog boxes you will use include these:

These are just some of the commands and dialog boxes available for creating features in ArcGIS. Refer to Common COGO workflows to understand how you can use these and other commands to build and maintain your land parcels.

Correcting for differences between the survey plan and GIS data

When you are using the COGO descriptions from a survey plan, you are using measurements the surveyor took on the ground and possibly adjusted to some coordinate system. However, a GIS stores coordinates relative to a projection's coordinate grid. You can use ground to grid correction to adjust the geometry of the features you create.

Reporting COGO descriptions

Before you begin adding features from COGO descriptions, you might need to investigate and understand how the new features will fit compared to the existing features. You can use the COGO Report dialog box to measure directions and distances between points you click on the map as well as query the COGO descriptions for line features in your database. You can also use the COGO Area command to calculate the legal area of selected line features, useful when deciding which approach to use in modifying features.

Storing COGO attributes on line features

In ArcMap, you can store the COGO values that you enter when creating features as an attribute of the line feature. One reason to do this is to keep a record of the original COGO description of the line features. This is useful if you need to research the original value when you are modifying the line feature in the future.

Not every command and tool in ArcMap updates the COGO attributes of a line feature. The Traverse window, 2-Point Line window, Cul-de-sac command, and Proportion command are examples of those that do update. For a complete list, see About COGO descriptions. To get this behavior, you need a line feature class with the appropriate COGO attributes. You can use the Create COGO Fields command in ArcCatalog to do this.

How is COGO different from other ESRI COGO capabilities?

The COGO functionality provided when editing in ArcMap with the COGO toolbar allows you to create and maintain your land parcels and other surveyed features in a geodatabase. There is other ESRI functionality that provides similar capabilities, such as parcel editing and the COGO extension to ArcInfo Workstation.

Parcel editing (parcel fabric and Parcel Editor toolbar)

Parcel editing allows you to capture and maintain survey information collected from field notes, data collectors, and record information submitted by surveyors to public authorities. You can use this survey information to incrementally improve the accuracy of GIS feature geometry in the geodatabase.

Parcel editing provides a parcel fabric dataset, job tracking, and workflow functionality for maintaining a land records database.

How does this differ from COGO?

  • Maintaining your features over time—When you create line and polygon features with COGO functionality in ArcGIS, you cannot go back and change the measurements and readjust the features. For example, if you use the Traverse window to create a parcel boundary and realize later you made an error, you must delete the parcel boundaries and create them again. Using parcel fabrics, the parcel record information is stored in the parcel fabric so you can reapply the measurements and adjust the fabric.
  • Adjustment of the parcels—With COGO, as new parcels are added, you need to decide how those new parcels integrate into the existing parcel layers. You might need to delete some lines or modify or re-create others. Parcel editing uses a least squares adjustment that defines a best fit for your new parcels. As you add new parcels, they are seamlessly integrated into the parcel fabric. Old record information is not deleted; it is kept as a historical record and can continue to contribute to the coordinate accuracy of the fabric.
  • Tracking history of parcels—The geodatabase allows you to archive data so you can model your parcel data over time. This works for the parcels created with COGO. Parcel editing provides additional functionality to geodatabase archiving where you can store incremental changes to the parcels in a parcel fabric.

COGO extension for ArcInfo Workstation

The COGO extension for ArcInfo Workstation provides functionality for capturing and maintaining land records data in a coverage. How does this differ from COGO in ArcGIS?

  • Availability of functionality—COGO is available with an ArcEditor or ArcInfo license. The COGO extension for ArcInfo Workstation requires an additional extension license.
  • Similar functionality—COGO in ArcGIS provides similar functionality to the COGO extension for ArcInfo Workstation. Refer to Common COGO workflows to understand what capabilities are available.
  • No COGO point feature class—COGO in ArcGIS does not have an explicit COGO point feature class.
  • Support for spiral curves—Creating and modifying spirals is only supported through programming. For more information, see the geometry section of the ArcGIS software documentation kit help.
  • Stationing—This is not supported in ArcGIS.

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