How the utilities industry can improve operations through geospatial data

Written by
Brooke Hahn
January 15, 2024

The use of geospatial data within utility operations is enhancing efficiency and reducing costs for operations teams. Instead of using more manual processes and systems, location-based data enables key information to drive decision-making. In this article, we’ll explore the various use cases and benefits of utilizing geospatial data in the utilities industry.

Common geospatial data use cases in utilities

Use Case 1: Infrastructure planning and development

Geospatial data is key in the planning and development of utility infrastructure. By incorporating geographic information, utilities companies can make informed decisions about where to build, upgrade, or expand their networks. This includes the optimal placement of power lines, water pipelines, and telecommunication networks. Geospatial data enables precise mapping of terrain, identifying potential obstacles, and assessing environmental factors, all of which contribute to more efficient and cost-effective infrastructure development.

Use Case 2: Asset management and maintenance

Efficient asset management is crucial for utilities companies to ensure the longevity and reliability of their infrastructure. Conducting predictive or preventative maintenance inspections - with asset inspection tools like Birdi has - ensures assets are maintained and faults and issues are resolved.

Use Case 3: Emergency response and disaster management

In times of natural disasters or emergencies, utilities must respond swiftly to ensure the safety of communities and maintain essential services. Geospatial data enhances emergency response capabilities by providing real-time information on the location of critical infrastructure, such as power substations, water treatment plants, and gas pipelines. This enables utilities to quickly assess the impact of an event, plan evacuation routes, and allocate resources efficiently. Geospatial data also facilitates communication and coordination among different response teams, fostering a more effective and organized emergency response.

Use Case 4: Network optimization and efficiency

Geospatial data is instrumental in optimizing the performance of utility networks. Whether it's electricity, water, or gas distribution, understanding the geographic layout of the network allows utilities to identify areas of inefficiency and implement targeted improvements. By analyzing geospatial data, utilities can optimize routing, reduce energy loss, and minimize water leakage. This level of precision in network management translates into cost savings, increased operational efficiency, and a reduced environmental footprint.

Use Case 5: Regulatory compliance and reporting

Utilities are subject to numerous regulations and reporting requirements. Geospatial data simplifies the process of compliance by providing accurate and verifiable information. Utilities can use geospatial data to demonstrate adherence to environmental regulations, land-use restrictions, and safety standards. This not only ensures compliance with regulatory bodies but also enhances transparency and accountability within the industry. What’s more, using a platform like Birdi means all your geospatial data, reporting and insights are kept in the one workspace, which means no missing data or information that's difficult to locate.

Benefits of geospatial data in the utilities industry:

Improved decision-making:

Geospatial data empowers utilities companies with the information needed to make well-informed decisions. Whether it's choosing the optimal location for a new substation or determining the most efficient route for a gas pipeline, geospatial insights contribute to smarter decision-making.

Cost savings:

By optimizing infrastructure planning, maintenance, and network operations, utilities can achieve significant cost savings. Geospatial data enables utilities to allocate resources more efficiently, reduce downtime, and minimize unnecessary expenditures.

Enhanced safety and security:

The precise mapping of infrastructure provided by geospatial data enhances the safety and security of utility operations. This is especially critical in emergency situations, where quick and accurate information can prevent or mitigate potential disasters.

Increased operational efficiency:

Geospatial data enables utilities to streamline their operations, leading to increased efficiency. Whether it's reducing energy loss in power distribution or minimizing water leakage in a network, the optimization made possible by geospatial insights results in a more efficient use of resources.

Faster emergency response:

In times of crisis, every second counts. Geospatial data facilitates faster emergency response by providing real-time information on the location and status of critical assets. This ensures a swift and coordinated effort to mitigate the impact of disasters.

Environmental sustainability:

Geospatial data helps utilities minimize their environmental footprint by optimizing resource usage and reducing waste.

Geospatial data has emerged as a powerful tool for utilities companies seeking to innovate, enhance efficiency, and meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving industry. From infrastructure planning and asset management to emergency response and regulatory compliance, the applications of geospatial data are diverse and impactful. As the utilities industry continues to embrace digital transformation, the integration of geospatial data will undoubtedly remain a key driver of success, enabling companies to navigate the complexities of modern utility operations with precision and foresight.

Brooke Hahn
Brooke has been involved in SaaS startups for the past 10 years. From marketing to leadership to customer success, she has worked across the breadth of teams and been pivotal in every company's strategy and success.