Close
 Security code
Close

Breaking News with Geoman Subscription

 Security code
Close

Blog Newletter Subscription



 Security code

GIS for Utilities - Big and Small

by Kevin G. on August 13, 2014

In covering this topic, I won’t cover the what, where, when, and why of GIS; however, I will spend some time on the how.
 
How do utility companies utilize a GIS?
 
How do utility companies implement a GIS?
 
How do utility companies make GIS affordable?
 
All of which are valid questions that need to be addressed.
 
How do utility companies utilize a GIS?
There are countless ways a utility can utilize a GIS, and more ways are being discovered every day. GIS allows utilities to have all of their information in one place. With GIS, you can have your utility information at your fingertips; location, material type, size, slope, depth, installation date, repair date, even maintenance schedule. Perhaps the best utilization of a GIS is having a system that allows utilities to document all the information they have on their utilities. Utilities, like all assets, are a living and breathing entity. They age, change, grow, and need maintenance over time. This information needs to be tracked; and GIS is the best possible way to do that. Additionally, with the implementation of new technologies, you can easily take your GIS with you into the field using a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Think about it, whether you are sitting at home, out in the field, or in the office, all the information is at your fingertips.
 
How do utility companies implement a GIS?
Implementation of your GIS is key. For starters, how about transferring all of the knowledge from that one tenured employee? The one that knows anything and everything that has ever happened with every installation, repair, and replacement. Let’s call that individual Utility Joe. In my experience, every utility has one. Utility Joe knows which plan sets are accurate and which ones are not, what repairs have been made-yet never documented. Utility Joe basically knows everything. One of the first steps is to transfer Utility Joe’s knowledge into a GIS so that it is documented. Then, maintain this information so that it is accessible to everyone. Please understand I’m not picking on Utility Joe. We have worked with countless Utility Joes; and they are invaluable in implementing your GIS.
 
How do utility companies make GIS affordable?
Believe it or not, some of the affordability of GIS is a direct result in the huge advancements in technology. Every organization wants and needs a GIS or wants and needs to improve their existing GIS. How have the advancements in technology made GIS more affordable for both small and big utilities? Big utility companies are not only benefitting from having their assets mapped in a GIS, but some are now able to have access to all their GIS and their work order system 24/7 with full support in case of any emergencies.  Small utility companies are able to use their smartphones and tablets to inventory and photograph their assets; such as: utility poles, hydrants, manholes, meters, and valves. Smartphones and tablets can be configured to transform into data collection devices that can be used in a way that was unfathomable just a few short years ago. These devices are affordable, easily configurable, and multidimensional - all of which save time and money and make a previously costly stage of your GIS (data collection) very, very affordable.
 
While costs continue to soar and budgets continue to shrink, there is still hope for utility companies big and small. There has never been a better time for being able to utilize, implement, and afford a GIS for your organization. Please, feel free to contact Schneider Geospatial as we have years of experience in helping utilities of all sizes with their GIS utilization, implementation, and affordability.

Tagged GIS, utilities