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Article

Where the Physical Meets the Digital - GIS and Enterprise Mobility

MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com

One of the mega-trends I write often about is the merging of the physical with the digital and the resulting impact on businesses.  A key element of this trend is the association of geospatial or location data with events, tasks, projects, processes, assets and resources.  I asked my civil engineering friend and hero of all ducks, J.D. Axford, to teach us a bit about graphical information systems (GIS).  Here it is for your reading pleasure.

Three broad categories of information are combined in GIS. As a point of reference, let's consider how a utility company would use these three:

  1. Landbase information typically comes from outside sources and depicts the natural (earth) and built (man-made) environment in which the utility operates - roads, rivers, and so on.
  2. Grid information, defining the physical system (power lines, transformers, substations, power generation sites) the utility owns and operates, this information comes from their engineering, surveying, and maintenance crews.
  3. Customer information is generated in-house and includes names, addresses, services provided, and maintenance schedules and requests, in addition to billing information.

Combining these three data categories into a GIS enables a utility to support:

  • outage management systems
  • workflow scheduling
  • damage prevention
  • routine operations and maintenance
  • asset management
  • workforce optimization

A GIS serves several purposes.  It is a geospatial database, plus a collaboration and communications tool for sharing geospatial data accurately, quickly, and broadly amongst enterprise teams.  This of course requires enterprise mobility solutions.  It ensures the field crews, engineering design and customer service departments are working together to efficiently meet goals. As always, effective communication require the data shared be accurate and available to those who need it, when they need it, and where they need it.  This is where the utility of mobile devices and especially tablets comes in.

In order to effectively use GIS, mapping software (like LatLonGo) must be developed that works across a number of different mobile hardware platforms to maximize its utilization.  It must also be able to integrate with ERPs, asset management apps and other business solutions.  Specialized software platforms are needed that support GIS integration with mobile devices.

Compressing data is another requirement so mobile devices have the space available to store GIS data, and so it remains accessible even when connectivity is lost. Collecting data through text and voice notes, photographs, and redlined maps and drawings are also essential and must be synchronized back to the main GIS server for collaboration and review.

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Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) Cognizant View my profile on LinkedIn Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict Browse the Mobile Solution Directory Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

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Kevin Benedict is an opinionated futurist, Principal Analyst at the Center for Digital Intelligence™, C4DIGI.com, emerging technologies analyst, and digital transformation and business strategy consultant. In the past 8 years he has taught workshops for large enterprises and government agencies in 18 different countries, and is a keynote speaker at conferences worldwide. He spent nearly 5 years working as a Senior Analyst at Cognizant (CTSH), and 2 years serving in Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work where he wrote many reports, hundreds of articles, interviewed technology experts, and produced videos on the future of digital technologies and their impact on industries. He has written articles published in The Guardian, wrote the Forward to SAP Press' book titled "Mobilizing Your Enterprise with SAP", published over 3,000 articles and was featured as thought leader and digital strategist in the Department of Defense's IQT intelligence journal. Kevin lectures and leads workshops, teaches and consults with companies and government agencies around the world to help develop digital transformation and business strategies. Visit his website at C4DIGI.com.