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.

ArcFM Go Live Events

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 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.

ArcFM Go Live Events

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

Field Staff Efficiency

Moving to World Geodetic System (WGS) 84 in a Live GIS Environment to Leverage Google Maps

It’s easy to focus on field staff efficiency with accurate data by leveraging the latest mapping technology and projection systems when you are creating your GIS infrastructure from scratch… but how do you migrate to a mapping technology like Google Maps that is based on a particular geodetic standard to drive efficiency when your LIVE system is based on a different datum?

A leading telecom services provider in the Middle East engaged Avineon to help them leverage Google Maps to gain Field Staff Efficiency across the organization.

Statistics showed inaccurate location information, even by a few hundred feet, led to a failed or inefficient result in at least 20% field visits.

With the data accuracy of moving to Google Maps, the telecom provider hoped to increase the accuracy of work locations, facilities and customer site visits for field crews. Even the slightest efficiency in field staff operations could result in quicker service, shorter outages and resource optimization. The challenge of migrating to Google Maps was the need to transform geodetic datum of their land base and network data from a local datum (AIN El ABD 1970) to the universally accepted datum WGS 84 with minimal downtime of a LIVE system and zero impact on the work order update process.

Network Overlay Against Google Before Datum Transformation

Network overlay against Google before Datum Transformation

Though the industry average is to focus on 5 transformation parameters in a change of this magnitude, Avineon defined and engineered 7 transformation parameters to increase positional accuracy using nationwide ground control point network along with the standard parameters needed by WGS 84. With Avineon’s extensive ESRI technology expertise, a custom tool was developed in ESRI ArcGIS and Ericsson Network Engineer, to automate the datum transformation of the LIVE system in a minimal amount of time.

For the transition, Avineon created a strategy to maintain uptime for the LIVE system with a complete system rollout all at once instead of the proposed area by area transformation originally intended by the client. While maintaining any open and pending work orders in parallel systems, the transition exceeded timeline expectations and leveraged Avineon’s experience handling LIVE operations in a transformation process while maintaining maximum uptime for all business units.

Telecom network overlay after

Network overlay against Google after Datum Transformation

Not only did Avineon assist the telecom provider to see improvements in overall service and shorter outage times but the transformation also helped the client save close to 15% on field staff time responding to sales and trouble calls. With the additional benefit of integrating network maps, operational staff was able to achieve further efficiency in routing field staff to facilities/customers.

Field Staff Efficiency2017-10-31T04:59:36+00:00