Utilities are transitioning to the cloud in numbers, utilizing technology which has transformed the way information is shared and stored. But for utility asset management, how can GIS and IoT be incorporated?
Combining GIS and IoT
Utilities are increasingly taking advantage of GIS in the digital mapping of assets, including water, wastewater, storm drain, electrical, and other critical infrastructure. Interconnecting digital mapping with IoT joins everything from sensors placed along assets to apps such as Nobel Systems’ GeoViewer™, which has a plethora of mapping and communication capabilities. The GeoViewer is a perfect example of using GIS and IoT in utility asset management.
The GeoViewer, coupled with IoT sensing devices, gives field and staff workers the ability to monitor water pressure, and identify potential problems in real time. Using the GeoViewer mobile app, workers can then submit reports, work orders, and receive alerts via real-time from IoT devices. This is especially useful for water utilities, which can benefit from identifying problems like water leaks and pressure drops.
Taking advantage of this technological approach allows everything and everyone to be connected. Staff can monitor assets, identify problems, and submit work orders from the field. Workers using the technology can immediately receive work orders, submit billing, track assets, and analyze data, all of which can improve productivity significantly.
Cloud Asset Management
Cloud Asset Management (CAM) assesses Internet cloud usage on an organizational level. Though cloud technology is commonly heralded for its benefits, its negatives are often overlooked. CAM helps users overcome the following critical challenges:
- The inability to build a centralized view of the Cloud
- Poor visibility of organizational uptake
- Limited access to data and usage
We are likely to witness an overhaul of utility infrastructure in the coming years, embodying the endless capabilities of a GIS-centric approach. By incorporating GIS and IoT technology, companies can control asset renewal effectively, alongside determining their replacement budget successfully.
This is a welcome change for utilities that have struggled to manage accountability. Many utilities’ assets have fallen below surface level, calling for a change in approach in infrastructure management. Incremental annual budget increases are no longer sufficient to meet expected service levels, especially while maintaining poor-performing assets. Utility asset management can be streamlined and organized more effectively by incorporating CAM.
GIS-Centric Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS)
Utilities can use a CMMS to effectively collect, store, and analyze asset data as part of a maintenance strategy. Incorporating GIS technology allows companies to better analyze information based on geographic locations. This can provide spatial geo-analytical insight regarding:
- Risk Mitigation
- Asset Criticality Proximity
- Resilience Planning
- Multisector Asset Management Analysis
Consequently, utilities can cost-effectively manage public assets, while remaining responsive to citizen inquiries.
A great example of how this technology is leveraged is in the emergency services sector. Here, service requests, inspections, work orders, field device mobility, real-time data, online maps, and financial cost reporting are engaged at high speeds.
Instant response is especially important during emergency management recovery efforts, where informational access is critical.
By implementing a GIS-centric CMMS, an effective provision of core data, insight, and analysis of business process workflows can be achieved.
Modern cloud software initiatives focus on incorporating GIS and IoT, which facilitate the effectiveness and efficiency of utility asset management.
Companies are constantly evaluating how IoT can provide a competitive advantage. In a world of innovation, utility companies can leverage new technologies like never before, with an increasing demand to unite operational technologies and IT with consumer technologies.
For example, the IoT can drive business processes with smart meters and consumer energy technology. A fantastic example of this is intelligent thermostats, which can adjust temperatures according to preferences/current climate.
Smart utilities are designed to improve the quality of life for citizens by combining information technologies with the IoT. This can contribute to cost reductions, where government inefficiencies and ineffective resource consumption is reduced. In conjunction with a GIS-centric CMMS, response times can be reduced significantly.
The Digital Twin
One of many buzzwords surrounding the IoT is the ‘Digital Twin’. This conceptualizes how machinery, devices, and buildings are designed, monitored, and maintained in both the physical and digital realms.
It involves designing a digital replica of an asset to better understand how it interacts with the world. This has revolutionized the utility sector, allowing engineers to effectively understand the operational performance of assets. Other benefits of the digital twin include:
- Improved operational reliability and availability
- Reduced unscheduled downtime
- Reduced operational risk
Providing locational contexts with geospatial information has improved the world of IoT. The digital twin can gain awareness of the actual and relative position of its real-life counterpart. This is one of the biggest reasons why GIS is slowly merging with asset management systems. The two have become intrinsically linked, especially as government requirements suggest certain assets must be restricted to specific geographic locations. Geospatial data creates a context in which the digital twin can be born into.
Why Make IoT and GIS Part of Your Utility Asset Management Strategy?
Data from IoT sensors can mix with business and customer data. This allows utilities to work more effectively with assets, achieving the following:
- Optimized maintenance schedules
- Continuous status of equipment usage
- Avoidance of unplanned downtime
- Identification of risks
- Minimization of unnecessary repairs
Companies can make smart assessments of service needs, anticipating problems based on specific information. Utilities can use IoT data to understand what’s happening with their equipment, executing an optimal approach to maintenance.
Incorporating IoT permits accurate predictive forecasts, alongside being able to anticipate breakdowns. A migration to GIS for asset management is a game changer, storing geographical referenced geometrics for utility features while serving as a database system to standardize utility attributes. The high-quality data obtained can be used by high-level management to make operational decisions.
The ultimate goal with the GIS-centric environment is to facilitate secure access of spatially referenced data from anywhere in the world. GIS will continue to facilitate communication, creating multiple efficiencies in the workplace. The future of utility asset management seems set to integrate with both the IoT and GIS.