Case studies

Web-Based Information System for ELIA

Web-Based Information System for ELIA

National Transmission Operator in Belgium

Elia is the Transmission System Operator (TSO) for Belgium. It operates and owns more than. 8000 km very high and high voltage network, which consists of underground as well as above ground cables. As part of a strategic plan for an enterprise GIS implementation with a vision until year 2022, Elia has procured in 2014 a new web-based GIS, named GIS Front Office (eGIS). The eGIS solution had many motivations, among others to reduce maintenance efforts and give efficient, web-based and unified access to asset information across several internal data sources.

Further motivations for the new GIS Front Office were that Elia actually did not have a good web-based solution which would unify all data sources required for this purpose. To retrieve vital asset information, complex IT bridges between legacies systems had been built, which were hard to maintain in terms of cost and skills. Furthermore, many important data source, like e.g. the internal alpha-numerical asset management system “InfraRef” were not even accessible within the GIS. This was the moment where Elia formulated a tender for a modern, state-of-the-art web-based GIS information system, which should handle the two major languages (French and Dutch) of Elia and should not bring any changes to the legacy GIS system where GIS data are updated.

This tender was won by the consortium of AED-SICAD and its Belgium partner SIGGIS. Due to the excellent collaboration between Elia, SIGGIS and AED-SICAD, the project’s first phase– the web GIS - was implemented in just 9 months. The solution is based on Esri ArcGIS Server, AED-SICAD UT Server and Latitude Geographics Geocortex, with each software adding its specific strengths to the overall solution. The Silverlight Widgets of the AED-SICAD web client were integrated seamlessly into the Geocortex Silverlight client. An Extract-Transfer-Load (ETL) process based on Safe Software’s FME synchronizes the required data from the legacy system in Esri and ArcFM UT schema on a daily basis.

Specific Transmission Functionality

The new web GIS eGIS was well adopted by the approx. 1 000 users throughout Elia. Besides the standard functionalities like map viewing and querying of assets, the end users needed some functionality specific to their transmission operation and asset management business: For example, they needed to find all transformers where the station fulfills certain criteria. In the ArcFM UT data model, the station is the master object to the transformer, and thus this specific search functionality was made possible. Furthermore, end users may use standard catalog values within the attribute forms for searching, which greatly enhance the usability. Often the complex transmission assets do not have a geographic representation, like e.g. a branch, which is a group of lines. By giving these objects a graphical representation within a query layer, end users now could also zoom to these assets and their location.

Integration SAP and Document Management Systems

ArcFM UT Asset Management seamlessly integrates within the Geocortex viewer

An important business requirement was to be able to integrate SAP PM malfunction reports and to display these on the map. Thus end users may check how many malfunction reports are already associated to a given asset or a certain region. AED-SICAD’s ArcFM UT Integrator establishes the connection to SAP to deliver the malfunction reports within eGIS. Furthermore, it is possible to establish new malfunction reports directly from eGIS through the ArcFM UT Integrator synchronization with SAP. But also within SAP the geographical “window” is available, which means in practice that SAP users have a geographic map within their SAP alpha-numerical masks displaying the current assets. All plans are linked either based on geographic coordinates or based on a link to the asset. All documents related to the currently selected assets are listed and can be viewed

Further Important Integrations

A very important requirement for end users was to be able to query the data from both the legacy GIS and the alpha-numerical asset management system, called InfraRef, which contains especially all station equipment. The integration of InfraRef with the legacy GIS proved to be a challenge during the project implementation due to not always consistent references to assets, but the result facilitates the daily operations for end users significantly by presenting all assets in one GUI. Another important integration was done with the data warehouse application (EDW), which summarizes in various reports the major electricity inflows and outflows across different monitoring points throughout Belgium. These can now be presented nicely on a thematic map for certain time periods (e.g. Year 2014).

Time & geographic granularity can be configured by the user. The EDW data is received via web services. A similar integration data is also implemented by means of ArcGIS for Office, where the same data can be visualized and analyzed in Microsoft Excel.

Elia also has file-based photo database displaying e.g. pylons, where most photos are geo-tagged. These can then of course also be displayed on the map within the eGIS viewer. And external construction companies need to know of course where Elia’s high voltage lines are situated to avoid accidents. This is handled through the interface with Phenix, which generates automatically all plans on the electricity lines for external requests. External users, who are registered, can even query the maps directly in the eGIS viewer. And last but not least, the state-of-the-art and modern architecture of the eGIS web solution allows of course using external web services. Here, ELIA uses e.g. web map (basemap) services from the Walloon, Brussels or Flemish region.

Business Value and Road Ahead

Clearly, the costly to maintain connections between legacy systems have been removed, and maintenance and upkeep has greatly been improved. And this was achieved at the same time with a great leap in information availability for end users, since so many different data sources are now literally mapped within the eGIS viewer. Now, end users really have every data source at their finger tip, only one click away. Currently, the project team is working on the second project phase, which means that a mobile offline client will be made available on the approx. 200 Panasonic Toughbooks of the field engineers. This solution will be based partially on existing Elia technology and on ArcGIS Runtime SDK. It will support redlining and attribute updates. Further down the road, also a smart mobile solution for smart devices, which always need Internet connection, will be implemented using Geocortex technology.

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