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Energy, Utilities & Chemicals the way we see it

The GIS – Centric

Point of View by Jan Van de Steen

Introduction 2

Network centric means GIS - centric 4

The (GIS based) central asset repository 5

Thriving on network data 6

Implementing the enterprise GIS 8

Conclusion 10


CAD Computer Aided Design

DMS/NMS Distribution Management System / Network Management System
DSO Distribution System Operator
EAM Enterprise Asset Management
ERP Enterprise Resource Planning
GIS Geographic Information System
Network General term for a utility company managing a transport or
Operator distribution network: either a gas or electricity TSO or DSO or a
water/wastewater distribution or transport company
SCADA Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition
TSO Transmission System Operator
Energy, Utilities & Chemicals the way we see it


A Geographic Information System The understanding is growing that or inconsistent because the same
(GIS) has a central place in a utility GIS is not just a technology to store network assets may be stored several
company’s application landscape, and produce network maps. GIS times in different systems with a
particularly for network operators technology has functional capabilities subset of their relevant attributes.
including electricity and gas and offers advanced data structures ■ Full lifecycle management of the

Transmission System Operators that are a prerequisite for well-controlled network infrastructure tends to be
(TSOs) and Distribution System asset information management. impossible with this inconsistent set
Operators (DSOs) together with water of applications. Engineering,
and waste water utilities. The GIS-centric enterprise positions planning, construction and
the GIS as the asset information operational management often rely
A network operator without a GIS master store at the heart of the utility’s on non-integrated solutions.
could be compared to a retail company operations, with links to the majority ■ Inappropriate GIS data models that
with an incomplete customer database of processes and applications across
were conceived for mapping,
or inconsistent customer service the business. It is the master system
network operation or asset
information. That would be a serious for the “normal state” as-built network.
management but are not suitable for
issue because the customer is at the
all of today’s applications and
heart of the retail business, making Overcoming GIS implementation
customer data critical for the company. limitations
■ Missing end-to-end network
Similarly, network data is the most Many network operators nowadays
important master data for network encounter difficulties or limitations connectivity model including client
operators who cannot afford with their GIS implementations. The connections which is an enabler for
incomplete, duplicate or inconsistent most common issues that are raised to the evolution towards smart grid and
network records. They must be able to management come from different a necessity for regulatory reporting
proactively manage performance and parts of the company: on customer service levels.
reliability, accurately bill and service ■ Lack of awareness of a GIS’
■ Unavailability of one single accurate,

customers, and respond promptly to actual and consistent net proximity analysis capability or the
network faults. information source (graphic and failure to utilize these capabilities
non-graphic) throughout the effectively in risk management and
In today’s unbundled utility sector, company. Finding the right other strategic decision making
network operators have the exclusive information to support decision processes.
responsibility for physically providing making can be a real challenge as no ■ Heavy paper-based update cycles of

access to the networks for their single source of reliable and network information resulting in
customers and for managing these consistent information about the unacceptable backlogs between
networks in a reliable and safe way. network is available. actual field situation and network
■ A variety of graphical and non- documentation and, consequently,
TSOs and DSOs are refocusing on the sharing of out-of-date information
graphical applications describe parts
networks after a decade during which between different parts of the
of the network at different stages of
unbundling itself was the main issue business.
its lifecycle. It is often a combination
that took priority and resources. Their ■ Inaccurate or poorly updated
of (scanned) paper maps, technical
business profitability depends upon
databases or Enterprise Resource topographic base maps (including
the performance of the networks, how
Planning (ERP)-centered equipment address positions). As a consequence,
this performance can be monitored
inventories, GIS and Computer many utilities are facing a high
and traced, and ultimately reported to
Aided Design (CAD) applications percentage of wrongly positioned
regulatory bodies. A well-managed
combined with document client requests and incidents resulting
utility network is essential to meeting
management. In this legacy in weak customer service, lost time
these challenges. More recently, water
application landscape network and unnecessary costs. Fluent
and waste water utilities are beginning
documentation is either incomplete exchange of network data with other
to experience this same trend.

The GIS – centric Enterprise 2

actors on the public domain tends to insight into the behavior of the network. The tangible benefits of these early
be impossible due to positional investments were often disappointing.
inaccuracy of the base maps. This information, linked to the assets Instead of efficiency benefits, many
■ The need to make a technology or sub-networks, is the justification utilities saw an increase in their
transition from the first GIS systems for investment and maintenance mapping staff due to the huge data
that were implemented in the 1980s programs as it provides insights on conversion projects that they had to
or 1990s. These legacy systems may outages and intervention times. go through. During the conversion
no longer be supported by software project, parallel paper processes
vendors and may be difficult to Geo-processing power – embedded remained in place, while part of the
integrate in a company’s application as a service in business applications – permanent staff was occupied on the
landscape. offers additional intelligence and migration work together with external
insight into network information. contractors.
It is clear that the vast majority of Back-office information management
these issues are not technology tasks can be supported by intelligent Since the late 1990s GIS technologies
related. The growing interest in GIS is rule bases (including topology) to have significantly matured. The tools
just another sign that businesses are guarantee the integrity of the network evolved from proprietary packages to
becoming more data intensive. data. more open solutions that were
developed on standard technologies.
This need will only increase with the And finally, the graphical interface of Open geo-application services defined
other upcoming evolutions like a GIS offers the ideal data quality by the Open Geospatial Consortium
distributed generation, smart metering enabler needed in improved asset (OGC) created new opportunities for
and smart grid. Utilities that know information management processes: integrating mapping and geo-
how to connect the use of data to user-friendly point and click interfaces processing functionalities in other
their strategic objectives are literally on mobile devices will make it business systems.
“Thriving on Data”. possible to locate essential field
information on the assets directly. Standard relational database providers
Today’s network operators do not like Oracle, SQL Server and
merely have to face the challenge of Recent history PostgreSQL have extended their
operating their cable and mains GIS technology emerged in the 1970s product capabilities to manage
networks safely without and was first introduced in utility complex operations on spatial data.
compromising performance. In the companies during the 1980s and GIS vendors have integrated these
future they will have to guarantee still 1990s. This introduction turned out capabilities into non-proprietary
better performance via a well to be a major challenge with many geospatial data storage solutions.
grounded investment policy. projects taking 5-10 years to
complete, mainly because of the And finally the GIS vendor landscape
Regulators want insight on the analog-digital map conversion that itself matured around a limited
effectiveness of infrastructure was involved. In these first GIS number of solution providers that
companies. For their regulatory implementation waves the business dominate the world market: ESRI,
reporting they must rely on focused on efficiency benefits in the Intergraph and GE Energy, together
trustworthy information, centralized map drafting and reproduction with Autodesk and Bentley moving up
in the unique asset data repository. departments. The organizational from the CAD into the GIS area.
Asset quantities (including network impact seldom went beyond the
lengths), performance, age profiles traditional drawing offices that kept
and investment status must be on delivering the same service to
retrieved from one single reliable other processes in the utility: accurate
information source. The associated and timely updated (graphical)
status and event data provide full network documentation.

Energy, Utilities & Chemicals the way we see it

Network centric means GIS - centric

The position of GIS in a utility GIS offers important capabilities in relationship except that they are
company’s application and process three distinct functional areas that located close to one another. Spatial
landscape is often blurred by an utilities need every day: analysis and decision making based
unclear understanding of what GIS ■ Mapping and visualization on ‘proximity’ is essential for utilities
stands for. services: The map is a natural entry in critical processes like strategic
point to geographical information, planning or risk management. For
When using the term GIS two distinct and through a geographical example, ‘gas burning distance’
definitions can be understood: representation, it can provide insight calculations are one of the key
■ GIS can represent a bundle of into complex information. A clear functionalities needed by gas
geographic functionality (thematic visualization is essential for decision transmission operators. Waste water
mapping, spatial analysis, route or making in many of the utility’s key companies need to estimate the area
network tracing, geo-coding) processes. Now that public web of land potentially flooded and the
commonly described as geo- mapping services are becoming a number of inhabitants affected by
application services. public good, pressure (from overloaded water drains during
■ GIS offers models and structures to employees and customers) is rapidly periods of heavy rainfall.
store and manage data, including, increasing to enable intuitive access
to localized information with a Business managers with a network
but not limited to, spatial data. This
geographical user interface. focus almost naturally identify GIS as
second understanding of GIS is
THE candidate technology for their
essential for network operators, ■ Connectivity analysis: A network is
central asset data repository, because
providing a way to establish a central an interconnected structure where
graphic representation, geographic
asset repository holding network facilities, equipment and
location, proximity, and network
infrastructure master data with all its customers are connected through
connectivity are essential features of
complexity. cables, pipes, and valves. Intelligent
the data.
connectivity models support the
In its first definition, GIS technology management of network structures:
When talking about GIS, today’s
shows an important functional overlap switching options for operations;
network operators are no longer
with CAD systems. Drawing network analysis and simulations for
looking for an instrument to automate
automation and map production are investment decisions. Graphical tools
their mapping activity as they did in
just one of the functionalities of a GIS. as available in GIS support intelligent
the 1980s and 1990s. They want to
Traditional CAD tools mostly perform editing of the network model,
establish a central data repository as
better in this domain and provide very ultimately serving other network
the unique information source for
efficient drawing solutions. GIS applications like NMS/DMS1,
their network assets in support of all
packages carry more functional SCADA2, Outage Management
business processes.
‘overhead’ and are therefore usually systems, and network calculation
less ‘user friendly’ in the pure drawing tools. To report on ‘customer
area. But for network-centric minutes lost’, connectivity should
businesses, GIS is a key technology enable tracing from the origin of the
that is increasingly being adopted to outage to the customer connection.
complement CAD’s drafting ■ Proximity relationships: Using

capabilities. geographical information, it is

possible to relate and combine
phenomena that have no specific

1 Network Management System (NMS) / Distribution Management System (DMS)

2 Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA)

The GIS – centric Enterprise 4

The (GIS based) central asset repository

Geographical information plays a 5. Construction, repair and 8. Results of patrolling and surveying
central role in the day-to-day maintenance work has to be activities have to be reported back
management of utility companies. documented to enable traceability and associated to the network
Increasingly, this information is being (welding information on gas mains, element they are related to.
integrated into both critical equipment installed or replaced, 9. Customer service agents evaluating
operational processes and into tactical initial pressure or voltage the feasibility of an access demand
and strategic decision making. measurements) and linked to the look at network characteristics in
right network element. the vicinity of the premises to be
This is where the GIS-centric 6. Network operations use an connected.
enterprise becomes a reality. Almost abstracted (schematic or geo- 10.In addition to the network data,
all processes require – to some extent schematic) view of the same the asset information management
– network information daily (see network to take operational processes themselves struggle with
Figure 1): decisions (switching, planned the integration of external data
outages). (topographic field survey, updates
1. Strategic network planning requires
7. Outage and incident management of public referential data (cadastral,
insight in actual and projected
processes need insight on network street registers). True asset
network performance (faults,
connectivity to identify the origin information management processes
incidents, repairs) in relation to
of a problem. The field workers were seldom implemented in most
(projected) capacity demand and
receive detailed location information utilities, resulting in an overall lack
the location on the network where
to perform an intervention in a of data quality that compromised
it occurs.
timely and safe way. the effective use of information in
2. Network design conceives network the other processes.
extensions and replacements based
on well-documented as-built
network data and internal or
external constraints that are often Figure 1: Utilities processes requiring (daily) network information
geographically determined (rights
of way, environmental and safety
regulations, material choices). Network
1 Strategic Network
3. Projects and Construction plan Planning Design
their work on detailed as-designed
Access & Concept/Design
maps, enabling graphic designing 9 Customer
and cost estimating and have to Service Projects &
Asset 3 Construction
frequently exchange geographical Accounts
information with external parties
Asset Information Asset 5
(engineering companies, civil 10 Network GIS
Context Work
contractors, government bodies). 4 Co-ordination
4. Co-ordination of construction work Repair &
Maintenance Equipment
(often imposed by government) 5 Details As Built
includes the exchange of
information (construction site Operations
location and timing of work) with 8 Patrolling
other parties operating on the Incident &
7 Outage
public domain. Further optimization Management
is sought in shared trench work for
multi-utility projects.

Energy, Utilities & Chemicals the way we see it

Thriving on network data

As all these processes require accurate Figure 2: Common repository of network assets - A combination of hierarchical and
network data, together with associated topological relationships
status and performance information, a
common geographic asset repository
at the heart of the operation is DMS / NMS
Net view
essential. Legacy information models Infrastructure Base
Asset Location
conceived with just one perspective Financial
Site Hierarchy Connection
Asset Function
(automate mapping, asset
management or operations) are Station ‘Switching Unit’

hindering the implementation of

Line/Cable Equipment
integrated asset information Bay

management, as required by today’s

processes and challenges. Network Equipment

operators are replacing a ‘stove-piped’

organization and application
Asset Network
landscape by an integrated operation Context Assembly
based on a shared geographic asset Logistic
data repository.

This common repository of network

assets includes the geographic
features, together with in-plant details
(if relevant for the network Figure 3: Lifecycle of Assets and Information Management
connectivity) and technical and
financial organizational groupings into Retired
sub-networks (see Figure 2). Out of Service in Place

The core GIS area is the ‘asset network

cy n


Li sio


context’, describing the topological Concept

rly mis

Design Construct Propose




to Retire
Ea om


organization of the network. In



addition to common data structures,


the GIS-based asset repository should In Sevice Retired

provide support for complex network
information models managing (see
Figure 3):
■ Multiple scales and representations
Incident &
(schematic, geo-schematic, Plan Concept Design Build Outage
■ Multiple connectivity models (for

instance gas and cathodic

■ Multiple versions or lifecycle status

(planned, projected, designed, as-

built, out-of-service, retired).

The GIS – centric Enterprise 6

Utility GIS solutions are therefore ■ Field force management This information is often created in
more than a bundle of graphical ■ Customer connection and access one of the other information systems,
functionality. They have advanced job management but should be linked as precisely as
and version management features, ■ SCADA / Telemetry and NMS/DMS.
possible to the network assets it
extensive rule bases governing data applies to, in order to build up the
editing with respect for network maintenance and the performance
To accommodate increased
integrity rules, industry-specific data history of those assets. Without an
information needs, the GIS should
models and templates, and capabilities intelligent geographical interface
allow capture, storage and retrieval of
for deploying web services. deployed to operators and field
asset-related information. Related
workers, it is impossible to capture
information consists of:
They integrate with other key this valuable information without
■ Asset lifecycle status information
information systems in the utility’s massive quality losses. This is where
application landscape, such as: ■ Events reflecting asset condition and the GIS meets field force automation,
■ Work and asset management / performance either directly or through other
Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) ■ Linked technical and operational business applications.
■ Outage management documents.

Figure 4: The GIS should allow for dynamic asset condition information

Linked documents
Inspection Report Site Photograph Maintenance Report Technical Instruction
Condition Information
Dynamic Asset

Linked events
Measurements Leakage Alarms Incidents Outages Repairs

Field Observations Maintenance Actions

Lifecycle status information

Projected Designed Under Construction As Built Out of Service Retired

Data & Engineering
Static Master

Station Line/Cable Station


Equipment Equipment

Energy, Utilities & Chemicals the way we see it

Implementing the enterprise GIS

The central positioning of GIS and the The content part of this work is EAM/ERP and GIS integration
information requirements from all documented in several ways using The GIS takes a position at the core of
asset-related processes and applications, GIS, CAD and document management a utility’s asset information
make it easy to understand that tools, through a so-called “asset management process. This can consist
“Enterprise GIS” implementations are information management process”. of graphical and non-graphical
generally characterized by their activities as long as they feed a unique
complexity. The scope can possibly Evolutions of the network configuration registration of all assets in their
cover the entire operation, including in the field have to find their way network context.
business change in process flows, back to the back-office where they are
master data management practices, documented. This process is usually EAM/ERP solutions have also
roles and responsibilities, interaction less structured and not aligned with implemented their view on the assets
with external parties, mobile the logistic workflows. Actually, as a location reference for
operations and field data capture. organizations support two processes maintenance work. It is usually
that - from a business point of view - structured in a hierarchical way, and
Some key business issues have to be should ideally be ONE integrated does not reflect any network concept.
addressed when constructing the process, serving both the ‘content’ and
GIS-centric enterprise. Strategic the logistic aspect of projects and In a streamlined organization, where
choices made in any of these areas work orders. asset information management is
will largely impact cost, feasibility and implicit in the logistic processes, the
complexity of the implementation To optimize this situation, a GIS should be integrated smoothly
program. The following sections will fundamental review of business with the EAM/ERP solution to reflect
highlight the most important ones. processes may be needed. With a GIS- the lifecycles of the equipment.
centric perspective, advantage can be
Logistic asset management taken of today’s maturing enterprise Typical ERP-GIS integration issues are:
processes alongside asset GIS solutions to deploy them into ■ Who are the master / slave in the

information management mobile applications and integrate lifecycle of geographically located

In most utilities, logistic processes them with ERP back-offices. The map objects and how to translate this into
(projects, work, materials, and is a natural entry point for anyone integration cases between the ERP /
procurement) have been structured involved in the operation of a network. EAM and the GIS?
and aligned with ERP or EAM-based ■ What is the level of equipment detail
processes. that is common in the interface
between both worlds?
Figure 5: Integrate parallel lifecycle processes
So far, there is no standard answer to
these questions. The options vary
Out of Service in Place between a highly ERP-centric enterprise
and a GIS-centric enterprise, thereby
largely impacting business workflows
Concept Design Propose
to Retire and information exchanges.

In projects and construction, for

In Service Retired
instance, GIS-centricity means that
network extensions are first ‘constructed’
Logistic process (ERP)
or ‘designed’ in the GIS. At a certain
stage, the matured design automatically
Asset Information Management process (GIS/CAD/Document Management)
delivers work breakdowns, estimated
bills of material, and initial assets that

The GIS – centric Enterprise 8

are created ‘as designed’ long before engineering and construction It is true that the ideal situation would
they will be constructed. The companies, CAD-based solutions are be to support the entire asset lifecycle
implementation of this workflow still leading the way. The leading CAD with a single GIS-based repository
cannot be treated as a standalone case. suppliers Autodesk (AutoCAD) and (see Figure 6) where projected
It assumes a GIS-centric business Bentley (Micro station) have network extensions would be managed
philosophy. Therefore, interfacing GIS continued their efforts to improve in a provisional state together with the
and EAM/ERP is not a technical issue. their products, specifically in the as-built network. But the project
No standard (let alone single-vendor) engineering and construction area lifecycle may require more flexibility
solution integrating GIS and EAM/ERP where GIS solutions are not always to cope with various scenarios,
has been found that can accommodate the best alternative. specific layouts to comply with local
the number of possible business construction and environmental
model variants. Today, emphasis is shifting towards regulations, integrate data from other
improved data quality and integrity networks and facilitate easy exchange
CAD versus GIS with more rigorous asset information of data with contractors who are
Asset information management in a management as a consequence. But working with Autocad or Microstation.
utility is essentially a graphical the threshold when implementing the In that case, a hybrid solution (see
activity. Two distinct but overlapping GIS-systems that support these Figure 7) with CAD/workgroup/document
technology solutions have been processes for the graphical domain management for projects and GIS for
competing over the last two decades proves to be hard to take for many of operations is a good option. Intelligent
to support this graphical editing the involved operational staff, which mechanisms are then needed to
activity: CAD and GIS. Still today, leads to considerable training and extract data from the operational asset
many organizations are struggling change management effort. repository into a project, and to re-
with the dilemma of which insert the as-built situation once
technology to privilege in their Is it worth the effort? Can we reorient constructed, unless one decides to
application landscape. As a matter of drawing office functions that have been redraw the as-built from scratch.
fact, many utilities have implemented used to work with efficient CAD tools
very functional GIS applications with like Microstation or Autocad to become
CAD tools while others have invested asset data managers? Are their alternatives?
in powerful GIS packages without
exploiting the full capabilities. Figure 6: Single GIS-based repository

When evolving towards asset Process

information management, there is a
Request Study Plan Build Operations
clear need for the full functionality of
a utility GIS package. Version Works Operations
managed databases of the entire
network, full topology support with
utility-specific rule bases, multiple Draft Data As-Built Data
graphical representations (including
in-plant schematics for example) and
powerful geographic analysis
GIS data
functions are some of the key features repository
of an enterprise GIS solution. Vendors
like ESRI, Intergraph and GE Energy
dominate the world market and offer Figure 7: Hybrid solution with CAD and GIS
predefined templates and data models
for utilities. CAD GIS
The downside of these GIS solutions
Plan Concept Design Build Operations
is that data integrity constraints,
editing and validation rules, and the Planning & Engineering Operations & Maintenance
inevitable integration of additional – Data
non graphical – features slow down Draft Data As-Built Data
the drawing and map production
itself. In situations where flexibility
and efficiency of drawing are essential, GIS data
or where graphical information is CAD map sheet

exchanged frequently with external

Energy, Utilities & Chemicals the way we see it


GIS is again perceived as an essential The journey towards the GIS-centric

building block in the utility’s enterprise requires some reflection
application landscape. Drivers for the and planning. In that process, some
renewed interest in GIS are: organizational and technological
■ Safety and compliance regulations hurdles may need to be overcome.
■ Readiness for new network
A strong business case can be built
management practices (smart grid)
only if the business adopts an enterprise
■ Operational process improvements
vision for GIS and stakeholders from
■ A general requirement for increased different departments become convinced
traceability of the network situation. how a GIS-centric enterprise will
improve their daily operations and the
Many issues that were previously business as a whole. The added value
looked at from a different comes from applications such as
(departmental) perspective are now Outage Management or Asset
being placed in a broader enterprise Management for which a central GIS
context. The current GIS systems in service is a prerequisite.
many utilities are often inadequate for
providing answers to these new Nevertheless, the establishment of a
enterprise requirements. Together clear vision should not prevent
with an inevitable technology organizations from moving forward
transition for many older GIS step by step in a pragmatic way, with
implementations, this observation intermediate realizations that add
provides a clear case for action to value to the business.
engage in a GIS renewal project.

Utilities generally underestimate

the effort associated with GIS
implementations, which is why many
past implementations were never fully
completed and expected benefits were
not realized.

The GIS – centric Enterprise 10

About Capgemini and the

Collaborative Business ExperienceTM

Capgemini, one of the Present in more than 30 countries,

world’s foremost providers Capgemini reported 2008 global
of consulting, technology and outsourcing revenues of EUR 8.7 billion and employs
services, enables its clients to transform 90,000 people worldwide.
and perform through technologies.
With 1.2 billion euros revenue in 2008
Capgemini provides its clients with and 12,000+ dedicated consultants
insights and capabilities that boost their engaged in Energy, Utilities and
freedom to achieve superior results Chemicals projects across Europe, North
through a unique way of working, the America and Asia Pacific. Capgemini’s
Collaborative Business ExperienceTM. The Energy, Utilities & Chemicals Global
Group relies on its global delivery model Sector serves the business consulting and
called Rightshore®, which aims to get the information technology needs of many of
right balance of the best talent from the world’s largest players of this industry.
multiple locations, working as one team
to create and deliver the optimum More information is available at
solution for clients.


Jan Van de Steen

Domain leader GIS
Capgemini Belgium
Phone: +32 2 7081111
Mobile: +32 496 57 42 02

Copyright © 2009 Capgemini. No part of this document may be modified, deleted or

expanded by any process or means without prior written permission from Capgemini.
Rightshore® is a trademark belonging to Capgemini.