GIS enhances Automated Mapping/Facilities Management

GIS enhances Automated Mapping/Facilities Management


Thierry Toutin
Rituparna Sengupta
Assistant Editor,
GIS Development
[email protected]

The Eastern Municipal Water District of Riverside County, California, US provides agricultural and domestic water, sewer collection and water reclamation services to an area of 534 square miles. With the assistance of a consultant the EMWD developed a plan for implementation of a major AM/FM system.

The customer service department would use the system to provide integrated access to meter reading, customer billing, facility locating and other inquiry processes.

Welcome to the world of AM/FM!
Automating mapping processes and thereby managing facilities represented by items on the map is commonly known as “Automated Mapping and Facilities Management,” or AM/FM. Maps have been a key in utility organisations. Earlier when the world of computer had not raised its head a crew of surveyor, draftspersons, and geographers would combine their resources and develop a map on paper. This map was created by hand, updated by hand, and reproduced by a professional printer. However in today’s e-world maps are drawn on a computer screen. Recent addition of GIS usage in this realm has further enhanced the overall AM/FM experience. The map program is now connected to a database containing a variety of detailed information related to items on the map. When the map is required it is displayed on the screen automatically while updates are also made much quickly. The key advantage to AM/FM is the ability to share maps. Government agencies, along with utility companies, which create their own respective maps can, for example, share maps with each other. This saves money, and provides the ability to create hundreds of new maps, many of which never existed before, for minimal cost.

Infrastructure – the backbone of society!
Roads, bridges, drinking water distribution, electric distribution and similar infrastructure facilities are the backbone of modern society! Tracking these assets has proven to be a difficult task. Often the authorities concerned are unaware of the most fundamental knowledge about the asset, such as location, construction materials and operational state.

In many instances especially in developing economies increased pressure, both from the load on the asset and the decreasing budgets to maintain it, have made the gap between what is known and what is reality increasingly important. This poses an obstacle, as it is very difficult to plan any degree of management when one is not fully aware of the current state of a system with some degree of confidence.Managing infrastructure brings forth unique challenges because of the long life cycle of these assets. Also these assets serve citizens of a particular area/region. Thus their clientele are dynamic in nature and parameters related to them keep changing frequently, thus hastening the need to constantly update the database. Even in instances of natural disasters quick analytical response is required.