RB Sloan, President & CEO“In the early 1970s, the world of electric utilities was beginning to experience the advent of technology, gradually swapping analog and electromechanical infrastructure with digital equivalents,” says RB Sloan, President and CEO, SEDC. Founded in 1976, SEDC began as a data processing cooperative, with the one purpose of serving a group of electric utilities that had adopted technology in its nascent phases. SEDC’s solutions have helped those utilities evolve into tech savvy entities of the U.S. electricity distribution network. Over the years, increasing technologies have spawned a myriad of components and machinery in the utility value chain, advocating a need for utilities to bring spatial awareness to information systems. “Adding GIS to our software suite was the unanimous choice, and this is how Futura Systems—an enterprise GIS specialist in the utility domain entered our range of vision, joining the SEDC family in 2007,” states Sloan.
“With GIS, the focus is to bring spatial awareness to all aspects of the utility and particularly to help them answer the most important question of all: ‘Where?’,” adds Adam Dinges, COO, Futura Systems. In response to the evolving needs of utilities, Futura starts by capturing and displaying real-time information along the entire business workflow, from work orders to billing, mapping to staking, and outage responders to dispatchers.
Leading a new wave of technology, Futura recently released FieldPro, a native iOS app that allows utilities to view the entire operational infrastructure, regardless of their location, and irrespective of whether they are connected or disconnected from their network or working from inside or outside office perimeters. FieldPro is intuitive, and doesn’t have a steep learning curve, facilitating rapid delivery of geographical information. With the app on their iPad, users can quickly connect to the network to process outages, manage disaster recovery, and create inspection procedures. “Field crews can manage recurring system outages in real-time, by interacting with the system of record and updating the information on their iPad,” explains Dinges.
The desktop based version of FieldPro is CatalystIQ, which is a comprehensive application that acts as a system-wide web map with ubiquitous access for tracking and tracing. “For instance, a manager can track and supervise the progress of multiple projects across their service area through CatalystIQ,” Dinges illustrates.
Adam Dinges, COO, Futura SystemsPowered by robust business intelligence and advanced analytics, the solution comes with an interactive dashboard that supports visualization of physical entities in the operational infrastructure. Continuing to lead the industry, Futura will soon release Indigo, a product concept that enables the utility to efficiently organize their different operations. Indigo forms an underlying backbone for three functions: plan, interact and manage. “At its core, Indigo is driven by a business rules engine that notifies the different departments about ongoing changes in the system and its various impacts,” he adds.
Field crews can manage recurring system outages in real-time, by interacting with the system of record and updating the information on their iPad
Dinges paints a picture of how Futura enables its utility customers to produce transparent results by using Futura’s powerful GIS solution. “The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) mandates the utility inspect 20 percent of their pole infrastructure every year, and to do this efficiently without over-expending manpower raised practical complications,” he says. With FieldPro delivering accurate, portable GIS information, utilities are able to process hundreds of inspections per week, even utilizing an outsourced vendor.
Looking ahead, Troy Schake, Chief Business Development Officer for SEDC, says the future is bright for the company and its GIS strategy. “What is built into SEDC and Futura’s roadmap is a very strong focus toward caring what our members have to say, understanding it at a detailed level, and delivering the tools they need now, and for the future.”