By Jeffrey Yoders
The Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) is the second largest municipally owned electric utility in Florida and the 16th largest in the nation, providing electric, water, and chilled water services throughout the ever-expanding city of Orlando. OUC uses GIS for mapping its water, chilled water, and electrical infrastructure. The Commission uses ArcGIS Server for its internal mapping website but also uses a custom ArcGIS Engine Runtime Application known as WaterEngine, a viewing tool to keep workers in the field up to date on trouble areas, basic maintenance, and the needs of the city's entire water system.
There are just over 9,800 public hydrants in the city of Orlando, and regulatory requirements state that each one be flushed at least once a year. An early adopter of GIS technology – the utility first implemented GIS in 2001 – OUC sought a way to streamline testing of all hydrants, valves, and other common maintenance needs when it created WaterEngine.
WaterEngine is used by all water field personnel including dispatchers, engineers, and other in-office personnel who have access to OUC's water utility map. It contains hydrant flow and audit information that is now updated weekly showing which hydrants need flushed in the 197 square miles covered by the water service, including metropolitan Orlando. It is a stand-alone field application that uses a file geodatabase updated on weekends with new information such as hydrant activities and the latest as-builts. Users run a batch file on Monday mornings to retrieve the latest GIS data.
"Field crews have addresses for tasks they have to perform in the day, and WaterEngine will flag all of them. As they go to each stop, the labels can be cleared off. The address labels and geographic positions help the field personnel make a sensible plan for the day," said Lesley Roddam, GIS administrator for the OUC's water distribution GIS. "If a truck is in an area on a service call, once they've finished that service, they can check WaterEngine to see what hydrants haven't been flushed this year in that area and flush the ones nearby. The Hydrant Flushing application writes data to a text file for loading into a Hydrant Activity table in ArcGIS. The ones that get flushed will then be recorded as flushed in WaterEngine and exported from Oracle into a file geodatabase each weekend."
Field personnel access WaterEngine using laptops and a USB GPS antenna that allows display of a user's location on the WaterEngine map with automatic map panning. OUC also uses Trimble GeoXH handhelds running either ESRI's ArcPad with Trimble's GPSCorrect or Trimble's TerraSync to collect coordinate information on valves, meters, hydrants, and other utility features, which are then loaded into the master geodatabase for proper positioning of those features in the map.
For a valve isolation trace, WaterEngine lists and highlights valves to close, provides details about each valve as it is selected from the list, highlights utilities involved in the isolation, and lists hydrants affected. It's a tool that brings geodesign information to the individual field worker.
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