In the third installment of our series, How to Spot an Expert, we’re focusing on folks that offer web GIS services for pipeline operators. We’ve shared our feedback on evaluating compliance consultants and what to look for in a risk analyst, but this week, we’re shifting gears to an ever-expanding market within web GIS.
With the upcoming Advanced Pipeline Referencing solution from Esri and the UPDM data model, we think you’ll be seeing a lot more options for GIS implementations and greater variety in vendors who can offer services in the pipeline space. However, not everyone understands the complexities of the pipeline industry. So, we’ve identified three key elements that your web GIS vendor should be able to offer to ensure a successful implementation for pipeline operators.
Configure First; Don’t Start with Customization
Contrary to our previous recommendation to always customize when building a compliance program, implementing a pipeline web GIS solution shouldn’t require significant customizations up front. Installing and configuring the Esri platform for your organization is something your consultant should offer as a service to leverage the greatest amount of technology with as little custom effort as possible. Precise visualization requests, workflow-specific widgets, and web apps to solve unique problems will clearly need custom development. But a lot of operator needs can be met quickly with OOTB Esri and some pipeline data management know-how. Which brings us to our second point…
Pipeline Data Model Experience
While just about anyone on Esri’s partner list can implement the platform, it is vital that pipeline operators hire partners that understand the complexities of working with pipeline data models. Can your vendor explain the differences between PODS Relational, PODS Spatial, UPDM? It is important that the individuals publishing up your data, manipulating your views, and creating your widgets and apps have an understanding of what the data actually means. And further, they should take pride in using quality data and strictly adhering to the traceable, verifiable and complete requirements of report-worthy data standards.
Pipeline Subject Matter Expertise
To be able to apply the technology in the most meaningful way, your consultant shouldn’t be just a GIS expert, but a pipeline GIS expert. Look for someone who can appreciate and understand the regulations driving your program and how GIS supports meeting those regulations. Seek out a consultant who has experienced operator workflows and processes first-hand and can help you identify where web GIS can add the most value to your organization. Your vendor should have experience in implementing sustainable pipeline integrity programs that are readily adopted by the entire organization, not just the GIS department. Working with an implementation team who excels at Esri technology, but does not offer the depth of experience in operations, will result department-level process and workflow, instead of a company-wide decision management system. You can’t solve a problem you don’t truly understand.
With these three elements, your pipeline GIS Platform vendor should be able to identity your greatest needs, illustrate the simplest, least customized path to get results, and gain enterprise-wide buy-in and adoption. To learn more about New Century’s web GIS services, today.