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Utility community explores intelligent infra issues

US: The much-anticipated GITA 2011 geospatial solutions conference from 10-13 April brought together users and vendors working in utility segment to interact and discuss the issues pertaining to building intelligent infrastructures. It was held in Grapevine (Dallas), Texas.  The completely overhauled conference brought in leading industry experts to address the audience and made the conference contemporary, credible and comprehensive for the delegates.

Bob Samborski, Executive Director, GITA, welcomed the guests and briefed the audience about the all-new GITA 2011 conference on the opening day. The executive vision session discussed ways of bringing geospatial technology and people together for organisational excellence. Robert F Austin, President, GITA 2011 traced the history and evolution of GITA and how the organisation transformed itself to keep pace with the changing industry. Peter Batty of Ubisense Consulting dealt with the technology development and how the new level of simplicity and ease of use brought in by Google, Microsoft and others is changing the way geospatial technology is looked at. Though their ideas were initially focussed on the consumer space, increasingly their technologies are getting applicable to traditional geospatial applications. Pointing out that the geospatial data is changing its nature and is becoming more multi-media oriented, he said that communities have to figure out ways to integrate new technologies with the existing ones.

Discussing the workforce challenges in utility segment, Geoff Zeiss, Director of Technology, Autodesk, traced out the worldwide trends in the growth of mega cities and the need for building sustainable infrastructure. He said the convergence of model based design, geospatial technology, 3D visualisation and physical analysis and simulation is changing how we design and build and making intelligent modelling possible. He said aging workforce is the biggest challenge to most advanced economies and the problem is exacerbated in the utility industry, where the average age of utility workers in many advanced economies is over 50.

Mark Carpenter, CTO, Oncor, addressed a broad range of challenges facing a utility in today’s environment of cost containment, rapid evolution of technology, workforce issues and regulatory requirements. He prescribed ways to deal with the problem of ageing workforce and ways to transfer knowledge from seasoned employees to younger professionals.

The occasion marked the presentation of awards to recognise the special achievements of organisations actively utilising geospatial technologies. The city of Brampton, Ontario bagged the Innovator Award of the Year award for transforming internal and external websites to citizen service platform (CSP), allowing the staff to self maintain content and enabling citizen access to current and relevant information. The excellence award was bagged by Denver Regional Council of Governments for developing a regional solar map, a website that lets users easily locate their properties and explore the benefits of solar PV installation.

The Industry Trends and Analysis Group, the highlight of GITA conferences, in its current edition, dealt with developing interdependent technologies for interdependent solutions. The breakout sessions specific to verticals – electric, water, transportation, public service and gas – discussed issues pertinent to their sectors under various categories including sensors, sensor systems, integration and big data and analysis. The Group deliberated on the challenges and opportunities in each of the vertical segments and identified commonalities and ways to go forward to overcome the challenges.

A series of technical presentations by several vendors and the display of best practices by users engrossed the delegates for three days. The exhibition and ample networking opportunities ensured good connectivity and interaction among the delegates.

Source: Our Correspondent