Memphis utility provides three services with one GIS

December 2012 » Columns » GIS SOLUTIONS
Jeffrey Yoders

Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW) is the nation's largest three-service municipal utility. It serves nearly 430,000 customers and creates the land base map for the entire Memphis, Tenn./Shelby County area. MLGW has been using GIS for more than 20 years to assist with meeting public safety goals and delivering reliable service to customers.

MLGW staff can now view world imagery, including data from Esri partner Pictometry, by connecting to ArcGIS online.

By 2008, however, MLGW processes had become bogged down by legacy hardware and systems. The utility had to convert data from its legacy format to a new shapefile format in order to share its land base data with the Fire, Police, and Emergency Management Agency (EMA) departments. The difficulty and length of time required to translate the files limited data publication to once per quarter. For these reasons, MLGW purchased an enterprise license agreement with Esri and Telvent.

Such a large migration of services and data presented many challenges. In July 2010, consultant MJ Harden was brought in to convert all of MLGW's land GIS information from Enghouse Cablecad to ArcGIS with an Oracle SDE database and a Citrix implementation to allow workers on different windows platforms to access the new GIS. The new data model was based entirely on the utility's diverse needs.

For example, MLGW can now interface with a customized Banner Customer Information System to improve accuracy of addresses stored in its systems. Users also can now access MLGW's document image system from within ArcGIS.

MJ Harden created nine workflows for the Land Department. The workflow manager job tracking application allows the department to track commercial and residential jobs that need addresses or other street information. The software also allows operators to track project completion, to identify which staff member worked on a particular job, and to target completion dates. The tracking application also allows the team leader to assign specific work request areas in GIS based on highest needs. Once the other team members receive the work request by email, the specific area is identified in ArcGIS.

MLGW staff can now view world imagery, including data from Esri partner Pictometry, by connecting to ArcGIS online.

Gas utilities were migrated to the new ArcGIS system in March 2011 and the GIS tools have provided users with the benefits of mapbooks, stored displays, and tracing capabilities. SSP Innovations created a custom CP Trace that colors gas lines based on whether the line is anode or rectifier. The implementation of gas utility GIS allowed MLGW to provide data for risk analysis for the Distribution Integrity Management Program (DIMP).

During the 100-year flood event Memphis experienced in May 2011, a temporary ArcGIS website was set up to allow crisis management and engineering teams to view gas, water, and electric facilities within flood zone levels. ArcGIS was instrumental in providing data via the Internet to communicate risk to executives and the crisis management team.

The water implementation was completed in August 2011, and introduced new interfaces to CIS consumption information and the creation of Web reporting. Web reporting provides MLGW an opportunity to view flow test and tap information from within the desktop application or via the Web utilizing HTML popups. GIS also provides a way to create mapbooks for wells near addresses and water tracing.

The utility is working on converting the primary/secondary electric and streetlight features from Cablecad to ArcGIS. Downtown network electric and telecom are being converted from paper or AutoCAD to be implemented this year. MLGW also implemented ArcGIS for Server and ArcFM using Siverlight and a mobile application for field crews.

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