Utilities

Mark 811 ArcGIS Widget for Facility Owners, Operators, and Contractors

Simplifying Processes for Safety and Damage Prevention

For utilities of all types, Call Before You Dig (Call 811) systems and related processes are crucial for safety and preventing damage to underground infrastructure. The Common Grid Association (CGA), dedicated to protecting underground utility lines and the safety of people, provides best practices for one call centers, facility owners, excavators, locators, project owners, and designers.  When best practices for this crucial function are not implemented correctly and governed consistently, the implications can be devastating and may include property loss, injuries, and even loss of life.

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Best Practices from Common Ground Alliance (CGA)

The CGA Best Practices describe the mapping practices for facility owners and operators of electric, gas, water, sewer, and telecommunications departments at both investor-owned and public or cooperative utilities. These best practices require facility owners and operators to prepare, generate and submit manifests with detailed maps of located facilities in response to 811 tickets received by their one call center.

Avineon’s Mark 811 ArcGIS Web AppBuilder Widget Available in the ArcGIS Marketplace 

To streamline and standardize these activities for ArcGIS  users, Avineon offers a Mark 811 Web AppBuilder widget. This widget enables employees and contractors to mark up (document) the located facilities using an electronic map, and generate manifests for submission to the appropriate one call center. This simple to use tool extends the power of your organization’s GIS to include 811 functions and provides a methodical workflow to standardize and manage these activities. This configurable widget is available to download, at no cost, from the ArcGIS Marketplace.

Example Process Improvements and Efficiencies

Loudoun Water provides drinking water and wastewater services to over 75,000 households in Loudoun County, Virginia, and has been using this widget since early 2019. Loudoun Water maintains over 1,250 miles of water distribution pipelines, over 950 miles of wastewater collection system pipelines and a growing reclaimed non-potable water system.

Loudoun Water contracted Avineon for professional services for the implementation of the Mark 811 widget in late 2018.  Today, the widget is successfully used by users throughout Loudoun Water.

Leslie Plazio, the Manager of Inspection Services at Loudoun Water, shared-

The use of this widget over the last three quarters for over 11,000 manifests has simplified our business process while documenting our fieldwork using mobile devices. This tool improved the user experience for our Utility Protection team and saved the processing of each 811 tickets by a couple of minutes at a minimum, adding to our overall efficiencies.

Celine Yang, the GIS Analyst at Loudoun Water, shared-

The ArcGIS Web AppBuilder Widget approach to this critical business function has enabled us to deliver meaningful user experiences and functionality to our stakeholders. It provided us ease of deployment and an effective way to operationalize web applications, in line with our web and mobile-friendly digital strategy for utility operations.”

Mark 811 Configuration and Capabilities

Mark 811 is a ready-to-use and configurable tool for the web and mobile environments. It is accessible using web browsers on desktops and mobile devices and includes the functionality to generate multi-page PDFs with your custom legends, logos, and printing templates. 

Using this tool for 811 workflows can:

  • Improve safety for all parties.
  • Simplify and centralize historical documentation of all locations.
  • Improve adherence to best 811 practices.
  • Automate information sharing.
  • Optimize the use of resources – (e.g. personnel, time, and money).

For further information about the Mark 811 widget, please contact Avineon directly or through your Esri Account Manager.

Mark 811 ArcGIS Widget for Facility Owners, Operators, and Contractors2019-08-22T11:37:45+00:00

Data Readiness Strategies for Utilities and Telecommunications

Realigning data lifecycle for sustainable value

Data readiness is a critical aspect of digital strategy. Especially within infrastructure-heavy industries, data associated with physical assets and networks in the field can play an important role in generating revenue, delivering customer satisfaction, and serving communities.

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Utility and telecommunication companies managing electric, gas, cable, fiber, wireless, water, wastewater, and stormwater systems have, in many cases, successfully employed Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to build and manage their assets and networks. These GIS implementations typically support a wide variety of business and operational processes delivering significant value to the organization.

Need for Digital Models to Operate Flexible, Resilient, and Connected Networks

Shifts in technology, operating requirements, market conditions, regulations, and other factors provide opportunities for utility and telecommunication organizations to modernize and derive more value from the investments made in GIS.

As legacy infrastructure transitions towards smart ecosystems, the data feeds from assets, field workforces, and customer-owned equipment become vital for utilities and telecommunication companies to operate networks in a flexible, resilient, and connected manner systems.

These shifts are driving the need for modernized digital models in GIS that mitigate latency and integrate data efficiently to support business workflows. This need for robust digital models is also on the rise due to the decentralizing paradigm of resource networks across utility and telecommunication industries.

Objectives for Data Readiness

A key objective for many organizations is the expanded use of their GIS platforms by leveraging powerful new capabilities and delivering greater value and experience to their customers, workforce, and communities, as well as improvements in environmental conditions. Implementing such a robust GIS architecture requires accurate, complete, and current data.

The measurement, identification, collection, assessment, maintenance, and governance of spatial data for its highest and best use results in data readiness for the enterprise.

The benefits of data readiness include:

  • Predictability
  • Competitive Resilience
  • Ease of Integration
  • Expanded Use of Technology
  • Greater Return on Investments

The lack of data readiness can result in:

  • Regulatory Violations
  • Process Inefficiencies
  • Disgruntled Workforce
  • Increased Outages
  • Customer Dissatisfaction
  • Slower Growth

Data Readiness Mindset and Approach

Data readiness is a fundamental ingredient of your enterprise’s digital strategy and requires a holistic approach when examining and optimizing the data lifecycle. It can be achieved through the application of a methodology and tools that considers the complete system lifecycle. At Avineon, we subscribe to a methodology of:

  • Avineon’s design approach, supported by our proven tools and processes, enables your team to examine and assess the quality and completeness of current data holdings. It establishes a baseline of the qualitative and quantitative aspects of your data and the augmentation needed to modify the data life cycle towards realizing your digital vision.
  • Data readiness design readies your organization to implement the necessary data quality improvements, which may be carried out by internal staff and/or outside data specialists.
  • With the correct tools and processes in place, implementation prepares your organization to sustain high-quality data that is authoritative and dependable for improved business and operational results.

In light of this, utility and telecommunication companies preparing for any system upgrade or implementation of technology, such as the ArcGIS Utility Network Management extension, must ask themselves two questions with regard to data readiness:

  • Option 1: Should we limit our objective to running data integrity checks to confirm data set is ready to load into the newer version of the data/information model?
  • Option 2: Can we look beyond data integrity to optimize our target data/information model and data management life cycle to maintain continuous data readiness and deliver greater business value through software upgrades?

The tendency to assume data integrity checks (option1) are the only basis for readiness without fully considering the data lifecycle (option2) is a grave misstep in this journey.

The Data Readiness Role in Digital Strategy

There are many forces driving the need for better data. They come from many different stakeholders, users, and systems involved in the data life cycle. Identifying these drivers and opportunities should be a methodical process that results in a comprehensive spatial data strategy for your organization. This diligence may be the most important consideration in your journey to modernize data assets and maximize the value derived from your GIS.

Data readiness strategies should focus on delivering enhanced value through an improved understanding of:

  • What software applications will the data be used with and what are their minimum requirements? Potential applications may include:
    • Editing and field use
    • Asset management
    • Capital improvement planning
    • Advanced system and outage modeling
    • Tracing for network isolations
    • Network modeling and analysis
    • Customer engagement
  • Will the data be used with Esri’s geometric network models, Utility Network models, or other industry models and software?
  • Are there regulatory and reporting requirements that the data must support?
  • Are there local and/or national standards that the data should follow?
  • Does the data need to address industry-specific needs such as:
    • Lead abatement in the water industry
    • Distribution energy resources in the electric industry
    • Smart grid functionality in the electric industry
    • Integrity management in the pipeline industry
    • Growing completion and 5G capabilities in the communications industry
    • Customer integration with smart appliances
    • Active system controls
    • Predictive maintenance
    • Rapid response for outage management
    • Sales and business development

Data Readiness Considerations

As these questions are answered, a natural outcome is a developing consensus on the benefits and ramifications of raising the quality of spatial data. This consensus becomes the foundation for establishing your data readiness initiatives. Potential benefits and ramifications include:

  • Better decision making for short and long term improvements to the systems.
  • Reducing data errors and duplicity, reconciling disparate data sources.
  • Generating new and better products and capabilities with the data and systems.
  • Enhancing access to authoritative data and ease of use.
  • Promoting the integration of standardized data among business systems.
  • Better compliance with required regulatory functions and deliverables.

Spatial Data Strategy

A well-facilitated data strategy that addresses these basic questions leads your organization to:

  • Craft enhanced data life cycle solutions in a collaborative fashion with all stakeholders.
  • Determine what data exists today and what changes are needed for improved operational and business efficiencies.

This strategic alignment guides and enables your data readiness journey towards applying innovative processes and tools during the design, implement, and sustain initiatives. This includes:

Rules-Based Assessment of Data

 A rules-based assessment of your data can reveal quality and integrity issues in many areas such as:

  • Attributes (empty/null, domains, subtypes, uniqueness, etc.)
  • Legacy fields and use
  • Features/Geometry (overlapping, duplicate, outside area, etc.)
  • Missing or broken relationships
  • Connectivity and topology problems

There are many tools available to assist in this process and to examine the source data for the selected content, quality, and structural characteristics. Some of the more prominent tools that Avineon has worked with and apply given the particular needs of the assessment are:

  • X-Ray for ArcCatalog
  • Esri’s Data Reviewer extension
  • Avineon’s Model Manager (available in the Esri Marketplace)
  • Avineon’s Metrics Extension to ArcGIS for Server (available in the Esri Marketplace)
  • Safe Software FME

Using such tools, the qualitative and quantitative aspects of data readiness can be shared with stakeholders through user-friendly dashboards. Summarizing results in this manner helps to develop consensus towards an optimal data life cycle for each enterprise asset that maintains data readiness throughout the course of normal daily operations.

Conditioning Strategies to Implement and Sustain Data Readiness

With the results of this in-depth data assessment, Avineon can help you design a strategy and tools to prepare the source data for migrating into the target framework. This is determined by the nature and state of the source data sets and improvements needed to fill in data gaps. We may employ tools and methods such as:

  • Digitization from analog sources
  • Field collection via mobile applications
  • Integration of real-time data feeds
  • Georeferencing of digital data for direct integration or for use as background reference
  • ArcGIS Pro analytics functionality and tools
  • Avineon’s Accelerator’s
    • Model Manager
    • Data Loader for Utility Network
    • Conflation Manager
    • Metrics Extension to ArcGIS for Server
  • ArcGIS Data Reviewer
  • Safe Software FME
  • Manual data clean up leveraging off-shore resources for reduced costs

We will then follow a methodical process to implement each data source for use in the target data model in a logical and pragmatic fashion. This will result in a documented and high-quality data life cycle that is carefully aligned with your business needs.

An example of this is an ArcGIS Data Review process that Avineon authored and has used in over 30 projects. Performing this process in an iterative fashion has produced highly accurate and complete data ready for integration in an extremely efficient and cost-effective manner.

Data Conflation, Data Trends, and Data Governance Tools

Following implementation, data statistics and trending tools such as Avineon’s Metrics Extension will baseline and monitor data refinement efforts to sustain your investment over time.  

Taking a Holistic Approach to Data Readiness

Avineon’s holistic approach to data readiness and wealth of experience, skills, and tools can help your organization successfully navigate the complexities in designing, implementing, and sustaining data readiness. For more information, please contact Avineon directly or through your Esri Account Manager.

Data Readiness Strategies for Utilities and Telecommunications2019-08-08T12:44:17+00:00

Leveraging Timelines

Pushing Sales with Spatial Data Warehouses

A spatial data warehouse can periodically consolidate spatial and non-spatial data from multiple systems to build a timeline of a customer, asset, work, and outage data. This, in turn, can provide snapshots of events or historical trends over a given timeframe. With lead generation, a spatial data warehouse can elegantly summarize and spotlight areas to target new customers as data from disparate systems is organized into a meaningful view for sales staff.

Piedmont Natural Gas (PNG), an energy utility serving more than a million residential and business customers in the Carolinas and Tennessee, partnered with Avineon to implement an enterprise-wide browser based system that leverages spatial data warehouse technology from GE/Spatial Eye in a project which yielded impressive savings in time and money for PNG’s sales staff and valuable insights into the power of spatial data warehouses.

A spatial data warehouse offers the advantage of simplicity to be both self-service and automated. That empowers PNG’s personnel to query the database on their own to see map-based or tabular information or generate analysis across various systems with customized information delivered to specific departments. This can be detailed parcel data of a potential customer or targeted searches over various regions in the service area.

Spatial Data Warehouse

View Timeline of Area Changes by Specific Areas in a Service Region

Spatial Data Warehouse

Detailed Information about a Parcel of Land

A major value driver for the spatial data warehouse-based system was the ability to consolidate location related information in one place, including GIS-based data and service information, without having to instigate a field visit. This included access to land rights information and changes to the circuit coverage through new construction that further empowered sales staff to identify new leads in an ever changing service region and intelligently form campaigns all within one interface.

Spatial Data Warehouse
Spatial Data Warehouse

Identify Leads in Select Areas and Generate the Most Impactful Campaigns

The spatial data warehouse-based web solution is fast, easy to use, and intuitive for PNG. Within six months of going live, PNG went from 50 users of the system to more than 500 users across the entire utility. The value of the rapid adoption of the spatial data warehouse by PNG’s sales team generated no fewer than 7,500 leads in those initial six months – a significant improvement over any previous process for lead generation.

In all, Avineon, with implementation team members, delivered a flexible, scalable and rapidly created an enterprise-wide system that leveraged a spatial data warehouse to PNG that has provided measurable improvements to the business, especially in lead generation. With the success of this initial scope, PNG hopes to enhance their web-based system to garner further benefits from spatial data warehouses.

Leveraging Timelines2017-09-25T19:21:18+00:00

Esri’s ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension

Avineon’s Unique Expertise backed by Esri Technology

Avineon’s offering around Esri’s ArcGIS Utility Network extension is a comprehensive approach to help clients plan the journey to the UN with the Head Start program, incorporate the UN into operations during the Implementation process and continue to drive value from the extension through the Sustainment program.

Avineon’s Head Start Program For Esri’s Utility Network

Gain a Head Start in Delivering Value Using the ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension Key Benefits | Beginning Your Journey The ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension is a groundbreaking transformation of enterprise GIS technology with a modernized data model, desktop, and web applications. [...]

A High-Level Overview on the Value of Esri’s Utility Network

Utilities, ranging from electric, gas, pipeline, telecommunications and water companies, have always been a complex mix of constantly changing network data, representing an array of interconnected assets across a region. Learn how Esri’s Utility Network can help companies improve business processes, empower their [...]

Esri’s ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension2019-10-23T10:06:11+00:00

Self-Service Analytics from GIS

Circuit Cards Using Insights and Metrics Extension for ArcGIS

A clear view into how assets and loads on a network (electric, gas, water, wastewater, telecom, etc.) are changing over time is vital for planning and optimizing network reliability and performance.

Until now, tracking these changes by circuit over time was a complex task as new construction and maintenance work was posted to the GIS. With 10.5 release of the Esri platform, GIS users now have the capability to view circuit and asset changes over time.

A mid-size southwest utility considered these new capabilities as an opportunity to empower end users with the self-service capability to analyze assets and loads on electric circuits from their Esri GIS.

With a reputation of creating innovative visualizations applications and expertise with Esri technology as well as the in-house developed tools, Avineon was engaged by the utility to define and demonstrate an efficient approach through a proof-of-concept.

Avineon recently completed this proof-of-concept by creating Circuit Cards accessible through web browser. Esri’s Insights for ArcGIS application as well as Avineon’s Metrics Extension to ArcGIS for Server provided the spatial analytics and visualization capabilities for the Circuit Cards. The results are impressive and illustrate the untapped potential of spatial data, traditionally used only for creating maps.

GIS Search

With Circuit Cards, the end-users at the utility were able to easily answer:

  • What assets and load do they have on a circuit on a given date?

  • Which circuits changed recently?

  • What types of changes were made on the circuits?

Asset and Load Summaries by Circuit

Asset and Load Summaries by Circuit

Updates By Circuit

Updates by Circuit

The proof-of-concept provided GIS/IT staff at the utility with an innovative approach to automate the scheduling, publication, and sharing of spatial analytics and trends to GIS users through ArcGIS Portal. With Avineon’s help, utilities can derive more value from the investments already made into systems like an Esri GIS.

Spatial Analytics

With a partner like Avineon, utilities can take advantage of the opportunity to make Circuit Cards for their workforce to create more meaningful experiences with digital products. Circuit Maps effectively answered the where for utility personnel, we now see the possibility for Circuit Cards answering what in an eloquent and meaningful way for the workforce going through the journey of digital transformation.

Self-Service Analytics from GIS2017-09-28T00:26:22+00:00

Leveraging the Value of ArcFM

A Smart Migration for a Tailored Enterprise GIS

In an effort to move to a more efficient asset management solution, a leading electric and water utility client in Western Asia approached Avineon. The client was looking to develop an intelligent migration strategy along with custom tools and training to leverage the complete capabilities of ArcFM.

After a number of workshops and client interviews, Avineon architected an ArcFM geodatabase model, which encompassed an enterprise view of the utility’s service region and a specialized phased approach. The key focus was on the migration strategy, by limiting downtime and operational risk. Avineon also created a roadmap to develop custom tools for data quality reviews and a web portal using ArcGIS Server that would maximize the value of ArcFM for the client.

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In the first phase, Avineon audited the current Esri geodatabase and created automated tools to identify deltas between as-is and to-be data systems. Additional information on the differences between the as-is and to-be data helped Avineon build a more accurate timeline for migration as well as anticipate possible discrepancies with transformed data in the live environment.

In the second phase, Avineon evaluated the viability of the live environment with systems across the utility before officially moving to the new tailored enterprise GIS with the ArcFM solution. This minimized the impact of rolling out the new tailored GIS across the utility and limited the downtime of the whole migration process.

A Smart Migration for a Tailored Enterprise GIS

In the final phase of the migration strategy, Avineon created custom and automated tools for the client. These tools were used to test the quality of the data in the new asset management system and the impact of data quality on the ArcFM/ArcGIS Server. The tools provided access to rich functionality with data editing and version management options on the web. The creation of these tools, in parallel to the training sessions (provided to network planning staff on ArcFM designer configurations), allowed the utility client to quickly achieve a return on its investment in ArcFM soon after the migration was completed.    

Leveraging the Value of ArcFM2017-08-30T08:51:33+00:00