Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
GIS infrastructure at EPCOR – Enterprise GIS for Water Utility
January 15th, 2014 by Susan Smith
Cindy Shepel, senior manager at EPCOR, a private utility company in the city of Edmonton, spoke about GIS infrastructure at the company at Be Inspired, London last October.
EPCOR Water Services is a private company wholly owned by the city of Edmonton. EPCOR won the “Innovation in Geospatial Networks” category at the Be Inspired Awards in October, 2013. The company builds and operates electrical transmission and distribution networks, for water and wastewater, treatment facilities and infrastructure.
Their scope of influence includes British Columbia, Alberta, Arizona and New Mexico. They serve a population of over 1 million and have over 240,00 water services connections.“About 25% of the water we produce is delivered to regional water communities that provide water to an additional 70 communities,” said Shepel.
In the past two years, EPCOR invested CAN$1.2 million in the design of a water- and land-related utility system to create, update, manage, visualize, analyze, and share spatial data.
The new system needed to maintain consistent user experience, functionality, graphical user interface and system availability. MicroStation and Bentley Map were the applications selected to build the application. EPCOR needed to stay with the same database technology with little or no changes to the existing data model.
Within the GIS infrastructure, EPCOR needed the following functionality:
Data analysis, querying, reporting and visualization for engineers, maintenance and operations crews, project managers and coordinators, communications coordinators, financial analysts.
Data capture, data storage managed by drafting technologists and system analysts.
MicroStation was introduced in 2005 and Bentley MicroStation Geographics and Bentley Power Map were introduced later.
The challenge in 2012 was that corporate moved to Windows 7 and they needed to maintain a similar functionality and reduce customized elements “Our solution overview at the time was to pursue an 18 month project implementation plan,” said Shepel. “Bentley Pro services guided us through the solution alternatives, application development and licensing. We decided to configure where we could and customize – we replaced 185 customized elements with COTS tools. Where ever possible code is persistent across all apps.”
Construction drawing preparation now includes specific map elements, and extraction of elements takes a matter of minutes instead of hours.
Shepel said they have three core business processes implemented on one platform recording, drafting and field mapping. They are experiencing increased efficiency in recording assets, ensuring that data remains valid, logical and precise.
EPCOR has implemented QA/QC rules that maintains data validity and accuracy, improved processes used to support capital projects, improved data for use in other apps i.e. MapInfo and SynerGEE, more accurate and timely awareness of infrastructure status, improved data accuracy, currency and consistency.
Supporting Dynamic User Environments
Using an eSpatial iSmart system integrating Ivara with EPCOR’s GIS, users should have access to data when they need it in a format that meets their needs. Business processes drove the solution, not the technology, delivering the right tool at right tool at right time.
“This can be delivered from the Oracle database,” said Shepel. “We have implemented in the Edmonton city area, and some other areas we operate don’t have the same database strategy as Edmonton, so we’re developing GIS strategies for those areas.”