How often do you schedule a company meeting without access to a company-wide, shared calendar? We all go through that exercise, and learn that we have no idea who is doing what, and when they are doing it. And how often do we start the meeting, only to learn that someone else was working on that same problem last week?
Today, it is much easier for me to coordinate a company meeting that is considerate of schedules, and ensure key stakeholders are present than it was ten years ago. That’s the reason I wrote about Geographic Information Systems (GIS) this month. They are valuable tools to share the information about our underground infrastructure. Like shared calendars, they can result in great productivity savings.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) facilitate understanding and management of our underground infrastructure among the stakeholders in an organization. The unprecedented power of these tools is in their direct support for decision makers to quickly assess the impact of condition assessment data on strategic planning and budgetary cycles. Furthermore, these tools offer the ability to drill down into detailed inspection data in order to verify assumptions and support decisions directly from data streams – data streams that others may have created. These tools allow owner/operators to save money by using a collaborative approach. Some forward- thinking managers are pushing this further by embedding work order management tools within the GIS. Their goal is to improve project planning, tracking, and execution efficiencies.
As I begin to shape RedZone’s strategic product road map, I start with the ability to review detailed inspection data directly within a GIS. An old professor once told me the only thing worse than not having the information required to drive a decision is having that information and not being able to recall it. I have spoken to asset managers and decision makers with exactly the same problem. Authorities will often source inspection services through the maintenance department. Even though maintenance is making use of the derived inspection data in the maintaining of the system, the engineering department is sometimes designing and planning rehabilitation projects without direct access to these reports. Universal access to all inspection data will alleviate these information bottlenecks and provide a common framework for decision making and strategic planning activities.
GIS systems create a shared transparency. They allow for condition assessment data from underground assets. A common framework for understanding infrastructure condition assessment will naturally improve communications, focus decisions, and increase budgetary and operational efficiencies. As you click on a line segment with a task in mind, you will instantly recall the most recent inspection data from that line and may even discover that others within your organization are working on the same problem.
In the near future, I hope to write about monitoring infrastructure changes over time by comparing historical inspection reports with current ones. I call this process time-based analysis. Without GIS this is a very difficult task. With GIS, I think I might be working myself out of a job!