Category Archives: Industry Focus
Creating a better risk model
When dealing with the complex infrastructure of an electric, gas or water utility system, things often go wrong. Things go wrong because there are so many factors that can contribute to a problem. Utility operators face an enormous task. They must gather accurate and timely data, understand the relative importance of each factor, and determine relative risk of damage to the system. Once utility risk is understood, a rational mitigation and investment strategy can be developed. Most utilities are able to prioritize maintenance and replacement projects based on factors such as equipment age, and the history of maintenance, operation, and failure. Continue reading
The perfect home may be a hot spot away
Ocean breezes; able to walk to shops and public transport; stunning mountain views. These aren’t phrases for advertising a holiday getaway—they are descriptions used to sell houses I’ve bought. Continue reading
Empowering safety engineers
U.S. efforts to improve traffic safety have delivered considerable progress over the last five years. From 2005 to 2009, traffic fatalities have declined over 21%. The fatality rate has dropped from 1.46 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled, to 1.13 – the lowest rate since 1954. While this success can be attributed to a variety of factors, the focus on safety by State Departments of Transportations (DOT) and State Offices of Public Safety certainly deserves some of the credit.
I believe there are four key areas where GIS has, and will continue to assist safety engineers in reducing traffic crashes and fatalities: Continue reading
If you build it, will they come?
If one questioned the general public about redistricting, as a Pew survey did in 2006, one would find only modest awareness of the topic and generally negative opinions of the current process. This comes as no surprise to those who observed the 2010 elections and follow trends in open government and transparency. Citizens are less inclined to trust their elected officials than ever before, and the redistricting exercises this spring may provide further grounds for discontent. Continue reading
Doing more with less
National mapping, charting, and data production (NDP) organizations are being asked to respond to issues and events with timely, relevant GIS data provided through spatial data infrastructures (SDIs).
The value of authoritative geographic data was recognized in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit (officially called the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro). In addition, geographic information was determined to be a critical component in meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Recently, organizations such as the Group on Earth Observations and the UN Economic and Social Council Statistics Division have emphasized the importance of authoritative data in addressing trans-national issues. The goals of these organizations are similar and can be aggregated into the following areas: Continue reading
Competitive or complementary?
One of the first questions I’m often asked when I talk to FM and real property managers about the idea of using GIS for their facilities management is, “what about BIM?” They are concerned about whether I am suggesting bringing in a solution that is redundant to or even competitive with their BIM technology. Continue reading
The importance of knowing your neighbor
Dorothy, this isn’t Kansas anymore. It could be Anytown, USA. On my last trip to Kansas, it wasn’t the wheat fields or flatness that amazed me but the repetitive retail landscape. It seemed that every town was a clone of the one I had just left—the same restaurant chains, grocers, drugstores, and general merchants. Was it an unholy alliance? Had real estate developers, government, and retailers reached perfect agreement on what every town needed and limited the choice to a small menu of options? However, the more I looked, the more I found exceptions. The harder I tried to quantify the way towns were similar to each other, the more I noticed the differences and came away knowing that local flavors dominate. Continue reading
GIS promise and DOT asset management reality
Those of us in the GIS community take it for granted that the incorporation of GIS enriches effective asset management practices, to the point where we find it difficult to understand how good asset management could be practiced without GIS. In reality however, most departments of transportation (DOTs) report only limited success in both good asset management practice and incorporating GIS into their asset management practices. So, why the gap between promise and reality? Continue reading
Preserving institutional knowledge
When I ran an electric utility operations division, one of my favorite employees was a guy named Stanley. Stanley started as a line worker; climbed poles; became a foreman, later a supervisor; then managed all the crews in the region. I remember how Stanley worked. Continue reading
Restoring Trust in Government
A considerable amount of my workday is devoted to studying and strategizing around the Gov 2.0 trends. I have come to recognize that there are two distinct communities that approach the topic from completely different worlds. Continue reading