Using GIS for electrical system maintenance

​Utility mapping is a critical function of any municipal GIS system to
help support the daily workflows of various departments, including
Public Works and Engineering. While most communities are only
responsible for maintaining water and sewer utility systems, the Village
of Winnetka includes an electric system as a component of their
standard utility maintenance. By maintaining this complex system in
GIS, the department has helped to streamline their electric system
inventory and improve the efficiency of both the field crews and the
office staff in locating system components.

The first step in developing the village electric system in GIS was
to gather the source data that would be used to build the electric
network. These sources included paper CAD maps, excel spreadsheets,
and even paper note cards containing various pieces of information
related to system features. The primary source for getting the basic
geometry of the system created in GIS was the paper CAD maps. While
these maps primarily display interpretative drawings of the actual
locations of electric wires and system components, they provided the
basic foundation for the development of the GIS data. These maps also
provided basic attributes for each feature, including circuit, phase,
and voltage information, among others.

Another valuable source of information used to create the GIS
electric system was the staff of the Winnetka Water and Electric
department. Often the CAD maps and other data sources were out of date
or incorrect based on a variety of factors and needed to be supplemented
with “on-the-ground” knowledge of the system in the field. The
information obtained from the department staff helped to fill in any
gaps left by the paper and electronic sources and to refine the coarse
accuracy of the CAD drawings to make the GIS data more spatially
accurate. Without this additional knowledge, the initial development of
the GIS electric data would have been much more difficult and resulted
in a less reliable product.

While creating the electric system data in GIS proved to be a
challenging component of the overall project, the most difficult aspect
was getting the CAD-centric field and office staff of the department to
accept using a new system to view their electric information. While
the staff was happy to supply their expertise to the development of the
data, they were accustom to using the old data formats and were
reluctant to accept the new GIS data as their primary mapping tool.
However, over time, the improved accuracy and reliability of the GIS
data has helped to slowly transition the department to using GIS
products. While the CAD maps and other data sources have not been
completely abandoned as a source of information, the department has
started to accept the use of GIS as an efficient solution for mapping
the Village’s complex electric system and maintaining its numerous
system attributes.

Using GIS for electrical system maintenance

​Utility mapping is a critical function of any municipal GIS system to
help support the daily workflows of various departments, including
Public Works and Engineering. While most communities are only
responsible for maintaining water and sewer utility systems, the Village
of Winnetka includes an electric system as a component of their
standard utility maintenance. By maintaining this complex system in
GIS, the department has helped to streamline their electric system
inventory and improve the efficiency of both the field crews and the
office staff in locating system components.

The first step in developing the village electric system in GIS was
to gather the source data that would be used to build the electric
network. These sources included paper CAD maps, excel spreadsheets,
and even paper note cards containing various pieces of information
related to system features. The primary source for getting the basic
geometry of the system created in GIS was the paper CAD maps. While
these maps primarily display interpretative drawings of the actual
locations of electric wires and system components, they provided the
basic foundation for the development of the GIS data. These maps also
provided basic attributes for each feature, including circuit, phase,
and voltage information, among others.

Another valuable source of information used to create the GIS
electric system was the staff of the Winnetka Water and Electric
department. Often the CAD maps and other data sources were out of date
or incorrect based on a variety of factors and needed to be supplemented
with “on-the-ground” knowledge of the system in the field. The
information obtained from the department staff helped to fill in any
gaps left by the paper and electronic sources and to refine the coarse
accuracy of the CAD drawings to make the GIS data more spatially
accurate. Without this additional knowledge, the initial development of
the GIS electric data would have been much more difficult and resulted
in a less reliable product.

While creating the electric system data in GIS proved to be a
challenging component of the overall project, the most difficult aspect
was getting the CAD-centric field and office staff of the department to
accept using a new system to view their electric information. While
the staff was happy to supply their expertise to the development of the
data, they were accustom to using the old data formats and were
reluctant to accept the new GIS data as their primary mapping tool.
However, over time, the improved accuracy and reliability of the GIS
data has helped to slowly transition the department to using GIS
products. While the CAD maps and other data sources have not been
completely abandoned as a source of information, the department has
started to accept the use of GIS as an efficient solution for mapping
the Village’s complex electric system and maintaining its numerous
system attributes.