PR -- InMaps, a GIS consulting services firm specializing in electric and gas utility applications, has completed a GE Smallworld GIS upgrade project for Northeast Utilities in New England. Working under a tight schedule mandated by the utility, InMaps upgraded Northeast Utilities’ geospatial asset management system from GE Smallworld 3.3 Professional to version 4.1 SWAF in less than six months.
“InMaps has performed more than a dozen comprehensive GIS upgrades for utilities in recent years, and this is our fourth GE Smallworld version 4 upgrade,” said Langley Willauer, InMaps’ Chief Technical Officer. “Our ability to turn this project around quickly results from our extensive experience in GIS software development and the extensive planning conducted by our team prior to initiating the project.”
InMaps began work on the upgrade in late February 2008. Most of the software development work was done either on-site at Northeast Utilities headquarters in Berlin, Connecticut, or at the InMaps Technology Center in Camden, Maine. GE Energy of Denver, Colorado served as a sub-contractor on the project.
“The upgrade to GE Smallworld 4.1 reduces existing custom code that was developed over the years for applications now included in the new version’s core functionality,” said Bruce Milardo, GIS Manager for Northeast Utilities. “This means that future upgrades will be less costly because there will be less custom code to deal with.”
Northeast Utilities relies heavily on its GIS to manage and operate its electric and gas infrastructure assets throughout New England. On the electric side, the GIS maintains the utility network connectivity model that supports operational switching and outage management.
In addition, for natural gas distribution operations, InMaps configured version 4.1 to a read-only environment for use in a variety of mobile applications. This interface will be used in conjunction with the InMaps GPS Locator and will allow field users to quickly and effectively locate distribution facilities throughout the distribution system.
The upgrade to Smallworld 4.1 will enable the utility to take advantage of two new applications that will immediately benefit its operations. The first is the Smallworld Schematic Generator, an add-on module that is being implemented by InMaps. It automatically creates simplified one-line diagrams of the electric distribution network. In the past, Northeast Utilities has had to generate these diagrams manually and print them for inclusion in map books that crews take into the field with them. With the Schematic Generator, the system will automatically send updated diagrams to the appropriate line supervisors via email every time a change has been made to the distribution network in their area.
“With so many changes occurring nearly every day to our network due to system reliability improvements, this gives our crews the confidence to know they have the most up-to-date on-line diagrams with them in the field,” said Milardo.
Northeast Utilities also plans to tap into the many benefits offered in the GIS upgrade through the addition of an improved Smallworld Internet Application Server. This will allow the utility to give crews at area Work Centers direct access to the GIS via the Internet. A reconfigured interface will make it very easy for field technicians and supervisors to query Smallworld so they can view intricate details of the electric and gas distribution networks. Remote workers will also have access to existing and future custom applications built on the system by the utility.
Northeast Utilities expects the upgrade work will proceed smoothly due to a long working relationship between the utility and InMaps, which has performed a variety of data conversion and application development projects on behalf of Northeast Utilities in the past. In 2006, Yankee Gas was the first organization to deploy the InMaps Automated Driving Survey application which dramatically simplifies mobile gas detection and reporting by integrating GPS and GIS technology.