Utilities and telecommunications companies require geospatial information systems (GIS) that offer a comprehensive network connectivity model and advanced geospatial asset management applications. GE Energy, a leading GIS provider to these industries, offers solutions with this functionality. Executives from GE recently provided ARC with a comprehensive overview of the company’s geospatial business strategy. The briefing covered recent interoperability and industry-specific product development efforts and the role of GIS within the GE Digital Energy organization.
GIS within GE Energy
In 2000, GE Energy acquired Smallworld, a leading provider of geospatial asset management solutions focused on the unique aspects of modeling and managing utility networks. The company followed this in 2008 with the acquisition of MapFrame – mobile mapping and field automation specialists. These acquisitions complemented and expanded GE Energy’s existing portfolio of software and system offerings for utilities and communications.
GE Energy’s Smallworld Core Spatial Technology is the underlying GIS platform technology from GE Energy. The product offers an application development environment and a database technology for managing complex spatial data. Applications for utility asset management, network planning, network design, and outage management layer onto and leverage the value from Smallworld Core Spatial Technology. The Smallworld portfolio also includes additional GIS products to meet the specific needs of the telecommunications industry for network inventory management.
GE Smallworld Meets Evolving Market Needs
ARC believes the deployment of web services and interoperability advances drive significant change and growth in the GIS software market. Geospatial web services and open standards extend GIS across the enterprise, enabling business process improvements by streamlining integration of disparate products and platforms. At the same time, the GIS market is evolving from a distinct software market into a supporting technology that meets industry-specific business process needs. GE Energy’s recent development efforts support ARC’s view that interoperability and industry specific functionality are important factors in meeting the current and future needs of GIS customers.
Interoperability and Industry-Specific Product Development
GE Energy recently introduced a range of technologies to extend the reach of its product suite and enable enterprise-wide use of geospatial data. Smallworld GeoSpatial Server provides web services to access Smallworld network data and applications throughout the enterprise from other business-critical systems such as SAP and IBM Maximo. The Smallworld GeoSpatial Analysis product allows users to integrate Smallworld data with separate enterprise data to perform a range of critical business intelligence tasks such as managing gas distribution integrity. Finally, Smallworld Enterprise Gateway provides bi-directional access between Smallworld network infrastructure and business applications built on Oracle Spatial.
GE also has a number of established utility “Office Suites.” The vertically focused, Smallworld Electric, Gas, Transmission Office Suites, and soon-to-be-available Smallworld Water Office Suite employ industry-specific data models while sharing a common base application and toolset to support multi-utilities across the globe. The industry data models contain the network connectivity, asset attribution, and other data definitions needed to support business processes across the asset management life-cycle. The Gas Distribution Office, for example, provides a collection of gas-related objects for gas mains, service lines, control devices, and meters.
GE supports engineering design, field automation, and workforce optimization within the electric power industry, making GIS a foundational element in GE Energy’s corporate smart grid strategy. In addition to its existing electric transmission and distribution application functionality, GE meets the critical smart grid market needs, such as integrating advanced mobile applications and managing the smart grid communications infrastructure alongside the distribution network with its portfolio of asset management and optimization solutions.
ARC expects future sales to the telecommunication industry to focus on the needs of managing fiber networks, as nations across the world invest in broadband communications to help enable economic growth. The Smallworld telecommunications solutions are well established in this vertical market. GE continues to invest in this Smallworld Network Inventory product portfolio and address the latest demands by adding functionality such as fiber to the home (FTTH) automated planning support, service-provisioning integration, and telecommunications support for smart grid initiatives.
Through its product development efforts, GE Energy is addressing the major trends that ARC believes will drive future sales in the GIS market. These trends include the increasing importance of out-of-the-box, industry- specific applications; improvements in enterprise integration and interoperability; and greater use of mobile technology to move back office functions to the field.
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