Strong emphasis has been laid on the expansion of city gas distribution (CGD) networks across the country. With the completion of the 11 and 11A CGD bidding rounds, 295 geographical areas (GAs), covering about 98 per cent of the population and 88 per cent of the total geographical area of the country, would be brought under CGD networks. This includes 630 districts in 28 states and union territories.
Geographic information systems (GIS), smart meters and data are invaluable tools in CGD business processes, from network planning and engineering to operations and management. The deployment of GIS, in particular, has played a significant role in improving the efficiency of operations undertaken by CGD entities. It has added value to businesses by facilitating integration with other systems. Gas distribution companies have implemented these systems and tools to support business workflows in departments such as services, consumers, operations and billing.
GIS is a system that creates, manages, analyses and maps all types of data. GIS connects the data to a map, integrating location data (where things are) with descriptive information (what things are like there). This provides a foundation for mapping and analysis that is used in science and almost every industry. GIS helps users understand patterns, relationships and geographic context. The benefits include improved communication and efficiency as well as better management and decision-making.
GIS integrates many different kinds of data layers using spatial location. Most data has a geographic component. GIS data includes imagery, features and base maps linked to spreadsheets and tables. Further, GIS interconnects, integrates and streamlines workflows.
Additionally, GIS provides asset intelligence. This includes pipelines and networks, asset condition, activity in and around it, and the surroundings through which it passes, device features, manufacture, maintenance schedule, etc.
Enterprise GIS provides an ecosystem to link all the information into a single platform where one can analyse the patterns of data and its segregation. Enterprise GIS has a centralised data base. This constitutes a geospatial infrastructure system. The system is modular, flexible and function driven. It enables efficient data gathering and aggregation. It helps in maintaining records.
ArcGIS offers unique capabilities and flexible licensing for applying location-based analytics to business practices. It helps gain greater insights using contextual tools to visualise and analyse data, collaborate and share via maps, apps, dashboards and reports.
Dashboards are essential information products as they provide a critical component to geospatial infrastructure. Strategic dashboards help executives track key performance indicators and make strategic decisions by evaluating performance based on their organisation’s goals. Tactical dashboards help analysts and line-of-business managers analyse historical data and visualise trends to gain a deeper understanding. Operational dashboards help operations staff understand events, projects, or assets by monitoring their status in real time. Meanwhile, informational dashboards help organisations inform and engage their audiences through community outreach.
ArcGIS dashboards enable users to convey information by presenting location-based analytics using intuitive and interactive data visualisations on a single screen. Every organisation using the ArcGIS platform can take advantage of ArcGIS Dashboards to help make decisions, visualise trends, monitor status in real time, and inform their communities. It helps tailor dashboards to audiences, giving them the ability to slice the data to get the answers they need.
Spatial analysis and data science connect seemingly disconnected data with the most comprehensive set of analytical methods and spatial algorithms available. The location can be used as the connective thread to uncover hidden patterns, improve predictive modelling and create a competitive edge. Focused ArcGIS applications can be used stand-alone or in combination to support field workflows and enable office and field personnel to work in unison, using the same authoritative data. Maps help spot spatial patterns in data so better decisions can be made and action taken. Maps also break down barriers and facilitate collaboration. ArcGIS gives the ability to create, use and share maps on any device.
The way ahead
Going forward, GIS will play a major role in helping organisations plan, lay their network, and manage it over a long period of time. Thus, the need for GIS in gas distribution is bound to grow in coming years. Considering the complex nature of the CGD business and its competitive environment, GIS adoption will help gas utilities improve their operational efficiency.
Based on a presentation by Dr Pradeep N., National Head, Business Development, Utilities and Telecom, ESRI, at a recent India Infrastructure conference