Western Power maps out a new future for Dial Before You Dig

If a picture is worth a thousand words then Western Power can successfully argue that when it comes to safety, a map is worth much more, not just for itself and its customers but for the utilities who are members of the national Dial Before You Dig service (DBYD).

In an industry first, Western Australia’s state-owned electricity transmission and distribution corporation has used its newly-implemented DBYD ticketing system as the springboard from which to create a spatial archive.

The archive significantly accelerates the retrieval of DBYD enquiry information making it not only faster, but also easier to access information about the location of Western Power’s network, improving site safety and cost outcomes for users.

The utility maps are easily configurable and can be adapted to meet new business requirements or to improve customer satisfaction.

The spatial archive has seen Western Power receive trans-national recognition from the spatial industry’s peak body in the form of the 2014 Technical Excellence award from Geospatial Information & Technology Association ANZ (GITA).

It has also resulted in PelicanCorp making the mapping service available as a standard component of its automated DBYD system AIRS (Asset Information Request System), for other users. 

Western Power’s Chief Operating Officer Dave Fyfe said the technology was greatly benefiting customers particularly with a significant reduction in response times from an average of two days to within 90 seconds for 85 per cent of enquires.

“Near immediate access to the location of Western Power’s underground and overhead electrical equipment improves public safety by reducing the risk of workers impacting the network when excavating or operating machinery.

“The number of customers using Dial Before You Dig has increased by about 20 percent each year, with more than 20,000 a month now seeking information through the service,” he said.

The spatial archive feeds the boundary and corresponding attributes from the DBYD system into Western Power’s ArcGIS SDE database.

Following the implementation of AIRS, in a collaborative effort with Western Power, PelicanCorp consultants added the ability for the utility to have a DBYD Feature Class (or set of data) within its GIS.

Mr Fyfe said Western Power was also efficiently using the technology to digitally map and archive enquiries so that information could be retrieved more efficiently for reporting, analysis and investigation.

The archive contains the data related to some 1.2 million requests made between 2007 and 2014 and processed by a legacy system.

The project required PelicanCorp to enhance AIRS to communicate with Western Power’s ESRI ArcGIS via the editing web service created by the utility. As each DBYD request is received by AIRS it passes the spatial object along with other configurable attributes to the ESRI feature editing web service.

A new polygon feature class was created called DBYD_Requests. The web service is then linked to a dedicated ArcSDE version which automatically posts and then replicates to the publication database on a nightly basis.

The spatial archiving solution was driven by the need to retrieve information for reporting, analysis and investigation work quickly and efficiently. The archives from a legacy Lotus Notes system were difficult to navigate and it could take hours for staff to retrieve records for investigations.

Internal stakeholders can also request changes or improvements to plans. A typical example is the symbolising of fibre optic cables based on conduit sizes. This change has received positive feedback from Western Power’s field crews who were used to seeing design drawing symbolised this way.

“The spatial archive provides long term benefits for our customers and community safety planning by providing a picture of where work is being completed near Western Power assets,” Mr Fyfe said.
The new DBYD GIS layers have created significant interest among non-GIS users in Western Power through either ArcGIS Desktop or through a Dekho web map. For example, rather than waiting for the DBYD team to search and retrieve records, the safety and investigations team will be able to access the layers directly when investigating network contact incidents. 

PelicanCorp’s Australian Country Manager Nick Holly said AIRS is the chosen DBYD solution of five of the seven winners of the GITA DBYD award since 2007.

The awards are sponsored by GITA Australia and New Zealand which is part of a worldwide not-for-profit organisation that provides excellence in education and information exchange on the use and benefits of geospatial information and location-aware technologies for asset and infrastructure management.

Dial Before You Dig 1100 is a referral service for information on locating utility infrastructure across Australia. Western Power along with other Western Australian utilities including Water Corp, Telstra and ATCO Gas provide DBYD responses.

Western Power is a State Government owned corporation that is committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity to more than one million customers across a network area of 255,064 km2.

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