By Joel Pirard
In the utility network business, there are a lot of software systems offering digital support. The Geographic Information System (GIS) is well established and appreciated by many who visualize and store information in a digital map. The Network Information System (NIS) is increasingly recognized by utility network providers. Why should you move from GIS to NIS? Let us begin by establishing what GIS and NIS are.
A GIS is developed for creating a digital, geographical awareness. As well as being a digital map, it is also a multi-dimensional system with layers of information. It is used to visualize complex data, often relevant to how a network is constructed. A GIS will answer the question: Where are my assets?
A NIS is a much further developed version of a GIS. It specifically meets the needs of utility network owners, since it deals with more specific and detailed data. It is used to visualize complex data, which can be analyzed. Actions based on conclusions can be taken, be it to support field engineers, customer service and in-house staff, or to keep end-customers up to date with correct and relevant information. A NIS answers the questions:
- What are my assets?
- Where are my assets?
- How are these assets connected?
- Who is using the assets?
With this established, we can conclude that a NIS gives advanced support for a utility network. In addition, it also provides custom built business support. Let us now look at how a NIS will support your utility network.
Reason 1 – Solve outages
A NIS lets you know what and where your assets are. By knowing this, you can establish additional relations between the assets: How are they connected to each other? Are they planted in lanes, water or ditches? You will know so much more than where your cables are – you will know the data related to them. A NIS, with correctly collated data, supports failure analysis. If anything goes wrong, the faults can be found efficiently. This is invaluable, should an outage occur. The outage can be dealt with in an efficient manner, supporting your field engineers and customer support whilst it is being restored.
Reason 2 – Support your field engineers and customer support staff
In the case of an outage, a NIS is an invaluable support, since it has the data sources. Your field engineers and customer support staff will not only know what has happened, why it has happened and what actions are taken to solve the issue – they are also supported with real-time data at all times during the outage. For field engineers, it saves a lot of time to get an imminent indication of where the fault has occurred. It is also reassuring for field engineers to be able to stay in touch with in-house staff. Should, for example, field engineers deal with interventions that require enhanced security, in-house staff can follow every step they take digitally. Documentation can be carried out simultaneously as the field engineers update various components, reducing the risk of error, or the simple matter of not finding the time to do it later. All along, your customer support staff knows what is being done to solve the outage. Thus, they can keep end-customers updated, restoring trust in your business.
Reason 3 – Deliver a top-quality service to the end-customer
Today, we are used to being connected to the Internet at all times, unless we choose not to be. We also expect electricity to brighten up our lives, and ensure that modern conveniences serve our needs. A constant supply of bandwidth and electricity is considered normal. In the case of an outage, be it the inability to connect to the Internet or a power-cut, the end-customer will inevitably expect restored normalcy without unnecessary delays. With a correctly set up NIS, you can quickly establish the fault, and inform end-customers about the situation. In a situation which can be stressful for both your staff and people relying on your service, it is a great comfort to get as much information as possible about the situation. You also have the ability to inform end-customers about planned outages, keeping your communication and service at top-quality.
Reason 4 – Estimate supply and demand
In the world today, there are two mega trends: the digitalization and the energy transition. Part of digitalization is the need for Internet-connection. We do more and more on-line – work, study, socialize, exercise, to mention a few – and governments all over the world are working hard to ensure that their citizens are connected. We are also looking at an energy transition, and a growing consciousness of how we can create sustainable energy. One way to do that is to analyze the supply and demand. With a NIS, you can get the data for how much is used in certain areas at certain times. Thus, you can distribute the load evenly – not only ensuring that there is always enough electricity for the end-customer, but also contributing to a greener world.
Reason 5 – Know the value of your network
With the increasing need of utility network providers, be it for fiber, electricity or other utilities, the business is in rapid development. The targets to connect citizens all over the world are immense, and the need for sustainable electricity is a fact. And behind every successful business, strategies and operations are being executed.
There are also matters of compliance, leverage, rules and regulations, all which are compulsory to adhere to. With a NIS, you can compile all data needed for the lifecycle of your network: planning, designing, building and operating. Should you need to provide investors or authorities with facts, figures and numbers regarding your business, you will have it all ready at hand. The age and lifespan of your cables. The condition your cables are in. The ability for you to maintain the quality assurance of your network.
This is not only about the value of your network – it is also about creating a sustainable business. Enjoying custom build process support, and all its advantages. Take control of your utility network. The NIS will support you. Throughout its lifecycle.
At Digpro, we have worked with NIS for over 30 years. We also call it a Digital Twin, since it gives the perfect visualization of a utility network. Digpro’s software systems dpCom and dpPower are successfully implemented by numerous utility businesses. Learn more about the advantages of a NIS, and do not hesitate to contact us for a demo.
Meet the expert
Joel Pirard is Senior Sales Manager at Digpro. With extensive experience from the software industry, including areas such as business development, telecom, OSS/BSS, GIS and NIS, he knows the true value of a Digital Twin. Joel studied Information Technology at Master of Science level at Linköpings University, and has worked at Digpro for eight years.