New Century and Integrity Plus Blog

The Future of Pipeline GIS: Power Users & Web GIS

Posted by Justin Calvert on Jun 24, 2016 7:30:07 AM

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The pipeline GIS user community has experienced significant disruption over the years with rapid advances in technology, ever-evolving data models, and the increasingly important integration between systems. However, I feel the most notable and impactful change to hit our niche sector is the use of web GIS.

For years, the disconnect between field personnel, operational departments, decision makers, and the GIS department has plagued the core group of spatial experts that are responsible for managing an operator’s greatest asset: their pipeline data. The GIS department has been cut off from integrity, risk, compliance, and executive stakeholders who, whether they realize it or not, rely heavily on the important work the GIS team does to make critical decisions. And, those decisions impact every facet of pipeline operations and asset management.

However, with the adoption of web GIS in the pipeline space, we’re seeing a shift in the silo’d organizational structure. Pipeline GIS users are increasingly looking to web GIS to provide access to the critical spatial information they so diligently maintain in a consumable, simple format. For the first time in our sector, the technology provided by the Esri Platform allows power users to maintain the complexities of pipeline GIS data, while simultaneously allowing non-GIS consumers view and interact with it securely.

Thanks to the utilization of a geoinformation model, we can create custom tools that meet a variety of needs through focused, simple-to-use solutions accessible through web browsers or mobile devices. Data consumers in any department can access geographic knowledge, while GIS users continue to work within the power and functionality of a traditional GIS. This is the critical shift – no longer is a GIS team a silo’d group maintaining a system of record. The GIS team is now enabling a system of engagement enterprise-wide that has true impact on business decisions which can change our individual companies, industry, and world economy.

Next week at the Esri UC, I’ll be walking the show floor with the New Century Software team to visit transmission and distribution operators. We’ll be discussing how we can enable a system of engagement within operator organizations to demonstrate the value of their GIS work and addressing the following questions:

First, what is a Geoinformation Model?The geoinformation model is the infrastructure that provides an intersection of geographic data, metadata, users and tools that allows users to access spatial data in a flexible way.

And, why it is Valuable?

Everyone in an operator organization relies on location data. Field personnel need an efficient means to collect data – both spatially, and through standardized forms. HSE requires information be immediately available when responding to events. Business leaders need access to asset data to ensure the organization is running efficiently. The integrity department demands accurate information to plan and prioritize repairs. In the end, it’s not just GIS who needs to answer the question of “where”. The geoinformation model allows an entire organization to access and interact with your geographic data while lowering the cost of developing and maintaining applications and processes that data consumers require.

Let’s Look at Pipeline Examples. My first example: ILI data continues to be a burden for operators to store, manage, and analyze to make smart (and expensive) decisions regarding anomaly remediation, corrosion growth, and pipe replacements. With a geoinformation model in place, enormous amounts of ILI data can be served up spatially, edited by GIS analysts with alignment and anomaly tracking tools, and QC’d by a pipeline integrity engineer to help make better dig and remediation decisions.

With a geoinformation model in place, enormous amounts of ILI data can be served up spatially, edited by GIS analysts with alignment and anomaly tracking tools, and QC’d by a pipeline integrity engineer.

My second example: Imagine providing dynamic alignment sheets to field personnel in a format that allows them capturing redlines made directly to sheets to update stationing, crossings, and other features. Those redlines are immediately pushed to a GIS technician who can validate and load the edited information, allowing for linear referencing and dynamic segmentation of the data. The data, stored with all its complexity, can easily be served up in spatially-enabled BI reports that key stakeholders can make better decisions from.

Redline data can easily be served up in spatially-enabled BI reports for key stakeholders.


In summary, Web GIS is continuing to change the way pipeline operators collect, store and analyze geographic data that will further ensure the safety and reliability of our pipelines. But, it’s also solidifying and validating the role of the GIS power user as a key influencer and business development leader within the pipeline organization. When pipeline operators understand the power of leveraging a web GIS backed with the knowledge of GIS power users, I think we’ll see a lot more Chief GIS Officers roaming around the c-suite.

 To learn more about the geoinformation model, web GIS and everything that goes along with it, meet up with the New Century team next week at the Esri UC! We’ll be at the PUG social on Tuesday night or you can request a meeting by visiting us at www.newcenturysoftware.com.

Topics: Esri, ArcGIS Online, Geoinformation Model, Web GIS, Spatial Analysis, Portal

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