Civil engineer software is often available for the specific field it is used in. Some software programs are suitable for land surveying, and can actually generate maps with the data that are entered into a computer. There are also specialized programs for overlaying these data on aerial maps, for example. Other software can map the terrain of a site, which can be useful for designing buildings or roads. Computer Aided Design (CAD) software is often suited for civil engineering, as are programs focused on cost estimation, environmental analysis, underground structures, and calculating structural load capacities.
In addition to assessing the land before construction, civil engineer software can help determine the number and length of beams needed to make a structure sound. Engineers can also use similar types of software to estimate how much load can be placed on a given sample of soil, while others integrate the input of data with popular spreadsheet programs. Information management is another task that is often handled by a computer. Software can also be used for project management, order tracking, and reporting of purchasing and construction activities.
Physical aspects such as pressure and load are generally important for constructing safe buildings. These are often addressed by civil engineer software. Drainage and flow of fluids often need to be calculated as well; software can be used to estimate storm run-off and the capacity of drainage channels. From an environmental perspective, there are many programs that can analyze how liquid moves through different types of materials. Some help engineers plan how to clean up contaminated groundwater, or predict the flow of pollutants through the ground or the air; there are also products designed specifically for the operation of waste treatment plants.
Maintenance is another category for civil engineer software. The infrastructure can be mapped so that bridges can be monitored for structural problems, or underground pipes that are in danger of failing can be mapped, for example. Some systems are connected to a series of sensors, so the data can be immediately displayed by the software if a problem is suspected.
Other types of civil engineer software help building designers calculate the force of wind on structures. A few products can also estimate the effects of the weight of snow. Another field of civil engineering covered is the design of heating and air conditioning systems; such tools can provide a convenient means for viewing a system layout, and also determining the most energy efficient design.