Based on the blank looks I received when describing it, I’ve learned the general public may not have an immediate sense of what a GIS conference for utilities is all about. But you can’t overstate the importance of accurate, real-time geographic data for improving utility planning and operations. The possibilities are amazing.

GIS is cool… and it’s useful

I admit it. While at GeoConX, I nerded out over the GIS apps and analytics that utilities are using.  There are many cool things that you can do with GIS that will have a positive impact on your operational efficiency. For instance, one conference vendor displayed dig permit data on a map, which got me thinking…what else could be done with dig permit data on a map?  Running analytics on past contractors and dig permits in a particular area would be informative for leak risk assessments.

Another utility shared an example of providing customers with a map that showed outages in their area and the expected restoration times. 

At Sensus, we are excited about potential of integrating meter, sensor, and cathodic protection data with GIS data. Stay tuned as we explore these opportunities and provide our customers with exciting, useful solutions.

Large utilities have in house GIS app developers…what about small utilities?

Large utilities may have an army of app developers that can push out custom GIS applications. But what are small utilities doing? Limited resources shouldn’t limit the potential of powerful business analytics applications for utilities of every size. Partnering with solutions providers may be one answer. I have my ear to the ground on what GIS and analytics functionality provides the most value for smaller utilities—feel free to comment or contact me directly with ideas—it could influence future product development at Sensus. 

Utilities are streamlining, and GIS is the foundation for the future

Like most other industries, utilities are inundated with the amount of IT systems and apps that are out there. In the effort to minimize system duplication, improve communication and operation efficiency, utilities are consolidating their IT apps and breaking down departmental silos. The goal is to ensure that all critical systems can talk to each other, and GIS may be key to this effort. The GIS has tentacles that attach it to almost every system that a utility deploys, and it is the very foundation that a utility operates on.

After attending ESRI GeoConX, I am certain that GIS and geospatial analytics are the present and the future of the utility industry. Utilities, large and small, are embracing GIS and are realizing the power that lies within geospatial data.