Distribution utilities can never guarantee uninterrupted power. A heavy storm, a fallen branch, a car accident or even scheduled maintenance can easily down electric lines. While disruptions are inevitable, what sets an agile and leading utility apart from the rest is its ability to quickly restore service and minimize outages, improving overall reliability.
One of the keys to rapid and effective outage response is efficient internal communication. How does information flow within the organization? Do staff, managers and directors have an up-to-the-minute understanding of how systems are performing, and what is being done to optimize that performance?
Access to real-time, accurate information about the current state of the utility’s network is critical to making intelligent decisions, especially during outages. Many utilities may already have the geographic information system (GIS) technology in place with a long-term vision of enabling this, but often, that goal remains unrealized. Continue reading
Have you ever wondered how to explain what GIS is all about to your family and friends? Are you wondering what in the world to give these same family and friends as gifts this Christmas? Well, here is one idea for your consideration.
The ArcGIS Book: 10 Big Ideas about Applying Geography to Your World is a publication from Esri Press that lets GIS professionals like you help loved ones understand the amazing work you do every day (and even lets them experience it firsthand!).
Available at your favorite online or brick-and-mortar bookseller, the full-color, handsome print edition looks great on a coffee table and invites interest and questions. Pick it up and browse, then go to a computer or tablet device and link to the free companion website to see the interactive examples come alive. For those who catch the GIS bug, there are even free ArcGIS trial software and real world tutorials to complete the ultimate GIS holiday immersion.
This year, give the gift of GIS.
Utility Pros, Don’t Be Afraid to Challenge the Status Quo—the ArcGIS Platform Has Your Back
Twenty-five years ago, when I worked for a power company, I was the champion of the GIS project. As champion, I had a mission to get the most use out of the company’s investment in geospatial tools. We didn’t talk about GIS as a platform back then, but the idea was to share authoritative network data with everyone who could benefit from it. It was often a battle. Why? People were so used to using paper maps that anything different was frowned on by the field users. In fairness, they were concerned about safety. If one of their primary tools, like their operating maps, looked different, it might cause someone to be confused. Confusion, of course can, lead to accidents. Continue reading
You cannot go to a technology conference these days without hearing about the Internet of Things (IoT). The consensus is that sensors and information technology will soon be all around us, impacting our daily lives to bring us awareness, efficiency, and safety.
We are already experiencing this change via rapidly growing use of smart technology: smart watches, smart refrigerators, and smart buttons on appliances.
Where Is the Smart Vehicle?
It is difficult to find a phone that is not a smartphone. On the other hand, it is next to impossible to buy an affordable car that is truly a smart vehicle. Innovative manufacturers such as Tesla, Faraday, and Google are the frontrunners when it comes to information technology implementation, while many of the traditional car companies are still in the slow lane.
Telematics information from cars traveling in the Bay Area, California. The different colors show different speed, red being the fastest. Continue reading
Because imagery sees the earth in unique ways, this enables us to both view and analyze our world using multiple perspectives.
At the most basic level, imagery is simply pictures of the earth. Imagery can be immediate or taken across multiple time spans enabling us to measure and monitor change. Every image contains massive amounts of information and can be one of the most immediate ways to collect data.
When it’s integrated with GIS, imagery encompasses a broad collection of data about our world in the form of pictures from above—taken by satellites from space, aircraft flying over our cities, and collected by other sensors. Imagery represents the earth in digital pictures composed of millions of pixels. Satellite and aerial images are geo-referenced pictures that overlay focused areas of our planet. Continue reading
Beyond transparency and accountability, the ultimate goal of open government is to empower citizens by providing them with data in a meaningful context.
The principles of open government and transparency suggest public access to information and, subsequently, scrutiny. Public scrutiny ultimately leads to accountability. Transparency and accountability together empower a public audience to weigh in on issues that matter to them, and provide an opportunity to influence decisions and hold the people making those decisions accountable.
When it comes to opening up GIS data, transparency is often cited as being a key driving factor in making that data available. But simply providing downloads for data is not enough, and in the grand scope of openness is somewhat meaningless. Continue reading
Change Management is a topic that leaders have been challenged with since the beginning of time. Pretty much all change faces at least some resistance. As such, scholars have been researching the psychology of this entrenched resistance for years to establish best-practices for managing this resistance. Emphasis on “managing” as eliminating resistance is an unrealistic goal. One such scholar in this field is Dr. Peter Gollwitzer at New York University. The theory developed is one that takes into account why plans fail. He determined that broad goals, while sounding nice, lack the needed connection to tactics. In other words, stakeholders lack the clear direction on how to execute on the plan. The prescribed solution from the research in this arena is having a plan communicated in Implementation Intention format. Simply stated, this creates a plan that is communicated in “if-then” statements. For the sake of building your GIS strategy, think of this as “Action-Outcome” statements to define the actions that the team will take with the ArcGIS Platform to generate a stated outcome. When doing this, make sure to include in the action part of the statement when the said action will occur. For example:
“If we implement ArcGIS Online by Q2 2016, then we’ll be able to utilize Story Maps to communicate our project work with the public to support our public outreach strategic initiative.” Continue reading
An electricity manhole is a little room buried in the street or sidewalk and is where utility workers access electric cables, switches, and other dangerous stuff. (In the old days, the majority of workers were men, so the term “manhole” stuck.) When a cable fails, workers splice together new and old sections—inside these manholes. Workers enter the manhole through a round entry, usually covered by—you guessed it—a heavy manhole cover. Inside, manholes are hot, dangerous, and creepy. If a cable fails, it generates a lot of heat and sometimes fire. Any debris caught in the manhole will worsen the fire. And if things explode, those heavy manhole covers go flying.
The ArcGIS platform can help utilities better manage data and workflows, ensuring that inspections make sense and go off without a hitch.
To keep operations running smoothly, manholes should be inspected and cleaned of all debris. Continue reading
Today’s shopping takes place mainly via credit and debit cards that are linked directly to banks. Stores use details from your bank so you can buy online on the Web and through branded apps. While newer mobile payments from Apple, Google, and others are starting to cause disruption to this, basically the model is the same. Details are provided to a third party who brokers the sale when sufficient funds are available to cover the purchase.
This is causing some to view branches as increasingly irrelevant. Why? Because mobile transactions like payments and deposits (you can take a picture of a check while lounging at your home now, for example) are removing the reasons consumers need to visit a bricks-and-mortar bank.
Scaling up service to change the model
Financial institutions are missing out. What if institutions with 18th century business ideas took an Uber-like approach to innovation? Instead of a collection of apps on a customer’s phone, what if there was only one? And what if that app was for the consumer’s bank, not a store? Continue reading
A new story map lets us see what has happened in the past, and what might happen in the future, as the US trade embargo with Cuba is lifted.
Finding itself under the magnifying glass of world economists after recent political changes, trade with Cuba deserves a fresh look. Almost a year has passed since the United States and Cuba announced that diplomatic ties would be restored after nearly half a century of trade embargo between the two countries. There are some interesting opportunities for the US and implications for other nations too.
One change many economists expect is that US agricultural exports to Cuba will increase, driving economic growth and an appetite for higher-value commodities that will benefit both economies.
Let’s take a look at Cuba’s trade through the years and see if we can gain some insight into the future by looking at information from the past. Working with partner Datamyne, we created a new story map to easily view trade statistics. Continue reading