Nowadays, extreme weather events are on the rise globally which have caused unprecedented blackouts and power outages even in the most developed nations with sophisticated utility management practices in place. Some experts attribute these freak weather occurrences to climate change. Just in the last few months, we’ve seen record snowstorms and floods hitting the New England states and New York in March 2023 and flooding in California from Dec. ‘22 to Feb. ’23 that left thousands of people across large areas without electricity, gas, and water.
Image credit: Olga Deeva
These recent disruptions in the utility sector provide a very compelling case for increasing the use of GIS and remote sensing solutions, which can provide significant advantages for water, gas, and electric companies. We often take for granted the utilities that make our lives comfortable and convenient. These utilities include water, gas, and electricity that reach our homes and workplaces through extensive and intricate networks. These networks connect the sources of these utilities to every building and facility in a certain area.
ROLE OF GIS IN THE UTILITY SECTOR
The tasks of designing, checking, and repairing these networks are not easy. However, using a robust GIS system improves utility field operations’ productivity by digitizing the data collection process and provides a unified system for efficient data storage and management while improving the quality and use of historical data.
While GIS involves storing, analyzing, and displaying spatial data, Remote Sensing involves collecting data from satellites or aerial platforms that can help in providing up-to-date information on the current ground situation. Many leading utility companies across the world use GIS and remote sensing technologies which offer tremendous benefits in managing utilities as follows:
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-They enable the creation of detailed maps of assets, including power lines, transformers, and water pipes.
-This information helps in monitoring the location, condition, age, and other important aspects of these assets.
-The GIS data can be regularly updated using remote sensing data like aerial imagery or LiDAR.
-GIS is also useful in planning and designing new infrastructure, such as transmission lines or substations.
-By using data layers like land use, topography, and environmental data, GIS can help identify the most suitable and cost-effective routes for new infrastructure.
-Remote sensing data can be utilized in identifying potential obstacles or environmental hazards that need consideration during the design phase.
Image Credit: Alvaro Reyes
-GIS can also monitor the performance and maintenance needs of utility infrastructure.
-It can track power outages, water leaks, or gas pipeline breaks and provide real-time information on the location and severity of these incidents.
-Integrating remote sensing data, such as thermal imagery, helps in identifying potential equipment failures before they occur, which allows for proactive maintenance.
Image Credit: Антон Дмитриев
-GIS can assist in estimating the future demand and supply of electricity in various regions, based on factors such as population growth, economic development, climate change, etc.
-Remote Sensing can aid in locating potential sites for renewable energy sources such as solar and wind farms.
Image Credit: Zbynek Burival
-By providing accurate and up-to-date information about utility services, GIS can also improve customer service.
-Outage maps, service area boundaries, or billing information can be provided to customers.
-Furthermore, remote sensing data like satellite imagery can provide information on vegetation growth affecting power lines or waterways impacting water quality, enabling utilities to address these issues proactively.
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Overall, GIS and remote sensing technologies can provide utilities with valuable insights and information to enhance infrastructure management, customer service, and cost savings.
AABSYS CAPABILITIES IN THE ELECTRIC UTILITY SECTOR
With over 25 years of experience, AABSyS is a leading provider of GIS and engineering solutions for the Electric and Gas Utilities sector to clients worldwide. It provides a wide range of services to Electric Utility companies, including surveys, data capture, land base creation, CAD drafting, distribution network design and update, and pole loading analysis and make-ready engineering.
Some of the services that AABSyS provides in this sector include:
AABSyS provides high-quality and timely surveys of the assets and infrastructure for various utilities. It helps customers map the underground and overhead utilities and plan for their long-term development. Some of the services that AABSyS IT offers are:
-Network Asset Mapping, which involves creating digital maps of the utility networks.
-Substation Survey, which involves collecting data and information about the substations.
-Consumer Survey and Indexing, which involves identifying and locating the consumers of the utilities.
-Designing of electrical cables to the home, both underground and above ground, and the designing of boundaries
-Routing power cable network to the home and Power station locating
-Update of distribution lines and service connections in a network
-Updates to the customer’s GIS using ArcFM software on Citrix mode
-Inputs include field sketches and photographs from the site for reference.
-Attribute capture of transmission or distribution wires and other electrical devices such as fuses, house connection boxes, etc. from job cards to update the object editor of each object.
-Electrical Site Plans
-Electrical Power and Lighting System Plans
-Electrical Panel Schedules
-Electrical One Line Diagrams
AABSyS IT provides pole loading analysis (PLA) and make-ready engineering for utility poles as one of its services. PLA evaluates the strength and stability of utility poles and the equipment attached to them, such as cables, transformers, antennas, etc. Make ready engineering plans and documents for the changes needed to install new equipment on existing poles or to replace broken poles. AABSyS IT uses software tools such as O’Calc to perform these services for its customers.
-Reporting of high-risk field assets
-Pole replacement design
AABSyS is a trusted partner for Electrical layout creation from old paper drawings.
-AABSyS can also develop AutoLISP routines to speed up the process and ensure consistency and accuracy of the drawings.
-Electrical layout design
-Drawing preparation from spreadsheets, field calculations, and photography.
-AABSyS can deliver Electrical layout creation and design services with high quality, accuracy, and efficiency. The company ensures timely delivery and customer satisfaction of the electrical drawings.
AABSyS is a reliable provider of permit drawings for electric power cables and can handle different types of permit drawings, such as:
AABSyS can also prepare the permit DWG and documentation on power cable details. The permit DWG is a drawing that shows the final design and layout of the power cable network. The documentation is a report that contains the information and data of the power cable network, such as cable type, size, length, rating, etc.
For more information, please visit – Electric and Gas Utilities
Dr. Prasun Ranjan is part of the Global Business Development Team at AABSyS. He is an expert in GIS and Remote Sensing and has rich experience in handling utility projects.