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Electric utilities are responsible for maintaining much of the country’s critical power infrastructure, which makes utility asset management a core component of any utility’s strategy. Many utilities now rely on geographic information system (GIS) data and analytics to identify and plan for maintenance, replacement, and modernization of their aging assets. However, GIS data can be unreliable if the data is conflicting, inaccurate, or missing.

There are often disparities between what is shown on maps and the true geolocation of each asset in the field — let alone identifying the current state of condition and performance of those assets. This can lead to inaccurate planning of maintenance jobs and enhancement projects, resulting in wasted resources. Misinformation from GIS asset data can contribute to poor asset management decisions and either overbuilding or underbuilding assets.

GIS conflation, which is combining and layering various geographical data, can give utilities a clearer picture of the terrain where assets are located. But the challenges of finding, consolidating, mapping, cleansing, and storing the data from many sources still creates multiple versions of where assets are located – none of which may be truly correct – and how they are functioning. However, by combining GIS conflation with geospatially accurate data and virtual 3D modeling, utilities can better address asset management challenges.

Why Pair GIS Conflation With 3D Modeling?

GIS conflation can provide geographic data that allows utility asset managers to reconcile where assets are in the field versus where they are on maps and plans. This provides many benefits including: better maintenance planning and response; better maintenance and/or capital planning for replacement of an asset or a set of assets; and the ability to proactively plan for work that is impacted by not only the assets, but by the environment surrounding the assets – such as vegetation management and new construction interconnections.

By combining GIS conflation with geospatial accuracy and virtual 3D modeling, utilities can see detailed images of the assets in the field and the natural and built environment that surrounds them.   This combination provides more accurate and reliable insights through a single version of truth, and saves utilities both time and money.  This approach enables easier viewing and remote assessment of utility assets so maintenance and upgrades can be strategically planned based on risk-informed analysis –before potential issues arise –leading to more accurate asset health assessments, risk management, and budget estimates.

This combination view also enhances future planning. That's because a clearer view of current assets means that new asset construction projects are less likely to under-build or over-build –and that any investments in asset enhancements add the maximum value for the minimum cost.

To learn more about how GIS conflation and 3D modeling can help transform your utility's asset management strategy, visit http://energy.leidos.com/solutions/utility-asset-management
Kreg McCollum is a Vice President in Leidos’ Commercial Energy Solutions Operation. Leidos is the exclusive North American provider of the Roames 3D Asset Management technology, and Kreg oversees the strategic direction, development, and delivery for Leidos’ Roames North America Program. Kreg has more than 25 years of experience as a business leader, consultant, and trusted advisor to utilities, municipalities, governments, and others in the electric power industry.