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How Geographic Information System can transform the Utilities Industry

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By Brijesh Balakrishnan, SVP & Delivery Head – Digital Engineering Services and GIS, CSS Corp

In the utility industry, assets form the core of all business activities. In order to maximize the ROI, the modern utility business needs a reliable system to manage tangible assets like technology infrastructure and heavy equipment, as well as intangibles such as energy and water. Tracking and managing infrastructure assets can be a considerable challenge for utility companies. Hence, working with a capable partner ensures you surmount these challenges. But first, let’s talk a little about GIS, its components and challenges.

As such, the valuable information from a Geographic Information System (GIS) is critical for utility companies to visualize scenarios, integrate data, create insightful maps and develop effective solutions to solve complex issues, quickly and efficiently.

Out of the three components of GIS that include data, hardware (computer systems), and software (GUI & DBMS), it is the data that is of utmost importance. An estimated 80% of all data generated is spatial in nature. By pooling data about utility assets such as water, gas, energy, and telecom with socioeconomic or user-consumption trends, utility companies can foster real-time and smarter decisions, as well as deliver personalized offerings. Moreover, the enhanced three-dimensional representation of data not only helps in comprehending the utility infrastructure much more efficiently but also expedites problem identification and resolution, ensuring timely maintenance and operational efficiency.

Why GIS can be your most advanced solution
As infrastructure ages, asset management such as repair, replacement, or rehabilitation of utility assets becomes more expensive. A proactive asset management program can stretch the useful life of utility systems while reducing operating costs.

Through GIS, an enterprise can visually monitor layered datasets in multiple dimensions, constituting land features, assets, networks, and high-velocity sensor data streams. Every new layer of asset data translates to more opportunities for an in-depth analysis, higher accuracy, and simplified management. Moreover, GIS mapping also ensures improved accessibility and interoperability across different platforms. The system enables seamless consistency in data across multiple devices, providing improved collaboration and communication between on-field teams.

Implementation Challenges
These inaccuracies in the spatial-position data can percolate to the digitizing process, creating a ‘digital variant’ of the inaccurate physical system; however, by enforcing a set of critical measures, enterprises can ensure the corresponding digital system is a ‘duplicate’ that is free of inaccuracies and not merely a faulty variant.
For a utility company, hiring an expert partner or service provider with a strong reputation in asset management can help in measuring the reliability of its data, as well as keeping its maintenance history up-to-date. The partner’s expertise can also be utilized to minimize the expenditure on construction and maintenance, and achieve new quality benchmarks in data capturing and cleansing.

Advantages of hiring an expert partner
A specialized partner can ensure reduced downtimes caused by asset breakdown through proactive maintenance that includes quick identification and resolution of complex issues. The utility company can also get access to the advanced processes such as real-time analytical insights of high-velocity data streams, which can maximize the capabilities of its GIS. Additionally, the professional support on crucial functionalities offered by a partner including data conversion and migration, conflation and accuracy improvement, as well as data curation and validation, can be a massive advantage.

How to choose the right partner
Utility companies should analyze the partner’s expertise to develop a customized GIS strategy based on a critical assessment of their unique business requirements. Subsequently, they can also check for the capabilities required for optimizing the asset management using GIS, such as streamlining field data collection, organizing networks, and optimizing maintenance programs.

Also, the partner should be able to provide the deep domain expertise on geospatial technology for critical functions that include:

* Field utility data acquisition
* Legacy data migration, capturing and cleansing
* Data management, integration & mapping
* Customized reporting and real-time analytics

An expert partner provides end-to-end geospatial services in the utility domain, starting with data migration. Ensuring the high quality and accuracy of data requires an elaborate process that includes processing, cleansing, and digitization. The curation and validation processes involve the creation of an inventory, developing a data dictionary, and managing metadata to ensure file fidelity and security.

The right partner also offers high-velocity data management using IoT sensors to monitor asset performance, whereas its predictive analytics solutions harness AI & machine learning for automation of data migration, and implementation of complex business rules. The advanced geospatial content management and machine learning programs can bring a drastic reduction in time and cost.

The partner’s special expertise in cloud, automation, and artificial intelligence can help be a huge advantage for minimizing redundancy and improving precision. By optimizing the overall GIS-driven asset management, an expert partner can ensure a trouble-free geospatial journey.


If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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1 Comment
  1. Anant Singh says

    With the need for data along with strategic planning and development gaining huge importance over the past few years, the emergence of GIS could not have come at a better time. A report by Grand View Research has predicted the GIS sector to grow to more than 11 billion USD by 2025, and with proper backing in terms of partners and use of AI, GIS will hold a lot of potential for the future.

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