The growing demand and pressures on Utilities.

Craig Hayes | 2 March 2022

One of the fastest growing areas across our many customer GIS deployments is the use the of mobile GIS applications. We are witnessing utilities deploying mobile applications across 1000’s of field-based teams to support asset inspection, maintenance, operations and some really interesting use cases where previously legacy paper-based methods to capture data would have been used.

An example of this is Severn Trent who equipped their workforce with mobile GIS tools to inspect properties marked as VOID (not consuming water). By validating these in the field using mobile GIS data capture applications, Severn Trent were able to rapidly increase the number of surveys undertaken digitally; identify significant amounts of un-billed water usage; remove this consumption from key regulatory leakage reports; target leakage detection engineers to search for genuine leaks not void properties actually consuming water.

What exactly is driving this trend? Well, there are a number of factors:

  1. Mobile applications are now far more accessible as smart devices become more pervasive
  2. Utilities continue to transform their operations to be more digitally focused
  3. The need to take information that currently exists across an aging workforce and make it available digitally the next generation where it’s needed to support operations
  4. There are growing demands and pressures on utilities to increase the speed and accuracy of data capture to support asset management processes through the full asset lifecycle,
  5. The need to support inspection activities by providing the wider geographical context and finally the need to equip engineers with the right data on the right device at the right time to support decision making during unplanned incidents and outages. 

To support these use-cases location is a critical attribute:

  • Where are my assets located?
  • What is the surrounding context?
  • Where do we need to maintain?
  • Where do we need to invest?
  • Where are issues and outages on the network?
  • Where are customers affected and where are my nearest field crews that can respond?

Today we see Esri mobile applications supporting Utilities to answer these questions daily.

But it goes much further than this. Utilities are now looking to modernise operations through digital transformation, with the help of Geospatial mapping to capture Geospatial data. The need to implement smart networks that have the ability to predict when something is likely to fail before it does or leverage digital twins to understand the benefit or impact on investment decisions through scenarios or real-time modelling.

A key component to achieving this desired state is the use of GIS mobile applications that can capture asset data in the field simply and at the level of fidelity required to represent the physical asset.

The need for this Geospatial information to be captured accurately in the field so that it can be relied upon and made accessible back in the office efficiently so that it can be integrated with other downstream enterprise solutions such as asset management, network modelling and network control systems is vital.

So by working with key partners such as MGISS we are able to realise this vision by supplementing Esri’s mobile GIS capabilities with the high accuracy needed to create the digital asset effectively and at speed.

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