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GIS applications and potentials for utility management

K M Jagadeesh and Milind Deshpande
Reliance, Mumbai
Email: [email protected]

Utility Sector is one of the fastest growing of the many fields in which Geographical Information System (GIS) software is used. GIS is emerging as an important planning, implementation management and operations management tool for the utility industries such as Telecom, Transportation, Energy and several Urban utilities such as Water Supply, Waste Water and Health.

Utility being the nerve centre and basic infrastructure requirement, utility execution team must ensure that all the components are functional with no breakdown. The authorities should ensure regulation in consumer services and attend to breakdown on SOS basis. This is a challenging task. To facilitate management of such a system, the task is made substantially flexible and the system condition if presented visually on a geographical data, it facilitates easy tacking and attention. Executing a GIS with a defined system design basis will go a long way in successful utility management.

In a GIS, the actual physical structure of the distribution system – where the lines run, where the connections are – can be duplicated or modeled on the computer, as can all of the other things, like streets, buildings, and land ownership boundaries, that have a bearing on the distribution system. Utilities need the benefits of a true enterprise geographic information system to map and manage facilities and to implement cross-cutting applications for streamlining operations, driving down costs, and improving customer service.

Deregulation pushed the telecommunications industry into the competitive world of the marketplace, a world in which competitive edge comes from the latest technology. Increasingly, telco utilities are finding GIS indispensable, for everything from automated mapping and facilities management to customer service and technician dispatch and routing. Process of integration all of these tasks with a common database across the network, utilities are discovering that their overall operations are more coordinated and efficient. In a modern spatially integrated utility, all of the company’s operating and facilities data is stored in a common database. Each operating department has its own applications pulling information from the single, nonredundant database.

With the ever improving hardware and software capabilities, data standardisations and establishing of geospatial data infrastructure, the form in which GIS will be used will expand. Some of the trends are : Customer service will become more important, utility regulatory bodies will focus increasingly on service reliability, higher emphasis on cost reduction, decentralised operations, web enabled solutions, seam less integration of GIS engines with business software thereby importance of GIS use will increase in the utility industry of the future.

The paper discusses following applications of GIS in Telecommunications sector:

  • Engineering & Construction
  • Right of way particulars
  • Installation details (ducts, cables, manholes etc.)
  • Planning & Network Design
  • Nomenclature for equipment
  • Bill of Materials
  • Networking & IP addressing schemes
  • Operation & Maintenance
  • Maintenance schedules for equipment
  • Bandwidth usage and availability (Planned, actual, available)
  • Billing data, customer details, market demand

The paper also discusses the evolution of use of GIS for Utility sector with respect to Data Sources, Mapping, Applications, Technology, Trained manpower, Timeline for implementation and Enterprise solutions. Applications and Potentials of current GIS technology and its relevance to the utilities management are dealt in detail.