May 01, 2006
GITA Conference 29 Notes
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! For several years, GITA has had a “motivational” speaker for the keynote, often someone who has no link to the industry. This year, there was no keynote speaker. Instead, Bob Samborski, GITA executive director, introduced the Interoperability Demonstration. The demonstration featured live data, and was standards based, shown on multiple platforms. Read about the conference in this week's Industry News.

This week I'll be attending MapInfo's MapWorld in Phoenix. Hope to see you there.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

GITA Conference 29 Notes

by Susan Smith

Interoperability Demonstration Participants
These days, trade conference administration is hard at work trying to find new ways of enticing attendees, and one of those draws is the keynote address. For several years, GITA has had a “motivational” speaker for the keynote, often someone who has no link to the industry. This year, there was no keynote speaker. Instead, Bob Samborski, GITA executive director, introduced the Interoperability Demonstration. The demonstration featured live data, and was standards based, shown on multiple platforms.

Starring the City of Tampa, the fictional situation for the demo was as follows: the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has just announced that due to unforeseen circumstances, the IOC has decided to move the 2012 Olympics from London to another city. What is needed for any participating city is a full proposal, including an environmental impact study, a sports venue study, critical infrastructure analysis, transportation study, and a security assessment due within one month to the IOC evaluation committee.

This poses an interesting question to any community - how would your community handle this?

The City of Tampa definitely wanted to try its hand at winning this lucrative opportunity to host the Olympics. After all, billions of dollars in revenue and goodwill are a given for any Olympic host city.

Executive Director GITA Bob Samborski
Of course, such a task would draw geospatial information from many different datasets in different formats. The data already resided on different servers where people know how to operate it. Web Map Services (WMS) developed by the OGC provided a standard way to display any of this data on a web browser. Web Feature Services (WFS) is able to create maps or support transactions. It can also to do dynamic distributed updates, allowing agencies to search metadata, post changes and more.

SpatialDirect was employed to download formats such as GML and XML. That solution was also used to take base data and overlay it on ArcExplorer. Using Bentley's ProjectWise to store project documents, the would-be Olympic team could view the water system of the city. The map itself was in Bentley MicroStation.

The fire department was asked to increase their water flow from 200 gallons to 300 gallons per minute. The data for this transaction was served up in ESRI, and was consumed in MicroStation.

The fire department didn't pass requirements for the proposed Olympic Village, so they created another thematic map. This map was published out using Bentley's GeoWeb Publisher which is also available as a Web Map Service.

The fire department used eSpatial's iSmart to query the WMS to get a layer turned on, which gave them a view of the selected water pipes that they could then make changes to if need be.

The transportation department announced a proposed road closure, and wanted to turn on the layer of local roads, then write this back to a layer in their own database. Someone who works for the state DOT used Intergraph's GeoMedia Professional to see the intersection of highways for which he was responsible.

Adding a bit of drama to the scenario, an oil spill off the coast of Tampa prompted a need to locate predefined evacuation routes from the city. The polygon layer that was created was made available to other analysts and written back to the database as an Oracle Spatial feature. A report could be generated from polygons available as a WMS layer. Using Autodesk Map 3D 2007, a WMS layer was added to Map in order to identify what hospitals are in the area that might need to be evacuated.

As if this was not enough, a request came in to ArcGIS Server to see the oil spill plume at hourly increments. The Port Authority also needed to see this, so another WMS was published by Air Map.

The Interoperability Demonstration was done completely with services provided on multiple continents to multiple servers from multiple vendors. It is probably no accident that OGC director of field operations Greg Buehler was this year's GITA chairman, and saw the Demonstration as a great opportunity to showcase what they have accomplished in the OGC.

The demonstration is a view of the future; the rest is a view of what I've written about here is a view of how the industry is today. Rather than give a rundown of every session I attended, I decided to focus more on the overall climate of the conference, making use of the experiences of users who will be threaded throughout this commentary.

Topics addressed at this conference included the aforementioned interoperability, work and asset management, mobile work management, Web GIS, One-Call Connections, aging workforce, and aging assets.

State of the Industry

“Energy companies are a lot more cost conscious at the moment,” Christine Richards, research analyst for Energy Insights, pointed out while addressing a seminar on Work and Asset Management. “Gas and oil prices have changed as much as 60% in one year.” In spite of this, industry financial health is improving, and Richards cited fairly stable profits for energy companies.

“There have been changes in regulatory policy,” Richards explained. “The biggest change was the 2005 US Energy Policy Act, a long term policy for the U.S. It will impact work and asset management, i.e. mandatory electric reliability standards. As regulators demand more reliability, companies will have to manage their assets better.”

Application trends that Richards noted were voiced by the other presenters as well, including: consolidation/rationalization of work and asset management applications with the ultimate goal of a single system for all assets and types of work. Also, enterprise deployment of mobile and wireless technologies. “Over 40% of energy delivery employees work in the field,” she said.

Richards said that the growth in outsourcing will outpace overall IT spending “largely for horizontal services such as finance and human resources, but we'll also see this in customer care and billing.”

“Intelligent grid initiatives will move beyond the initial hype,” Richards predicted. “IT spending patterns, and the regulatory environment will determine utilities IT spending patterns which will affect work and asset management.”

Business Drivers

- improving operational efficiency

- regulatory compliance - a headache and have to find ways to minimize cost of compliance.

- aging workforce - labor replacement and knowledge retention issues. Trends are somewhat alarming - high median age in energy industry. spike in percent of employees 45-54.

- Aging assets -

- lack of investment in T&D assets over past 30 plus years

- significant reliability and capacity problems in certain regions. Costs to US economy from power interruptions is $80 billion annually (Lawrence Berkeley Lab)

- 72% of interruption costs borne by commercial sector

An issue for all utilities and telecoms has been the interface with many other related systems, and also, how is one system differentiated from another? Some of them do overlap in the tasks they do.

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-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.

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