Monday, December 12, 2011

The Future is Now: A GIS Driven Common Operating Picture at California ISO

In 2009, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) Corporation, an entity that manages 80% of the power grid in California, commenced construction of a state-of-the-art control center that incorporates situational intelligence.  Central to these efforts was the introduction of geospatial displays that function on several levels, to include displaying real time information about Emergency Services Sector (ESS) related events and disasters.  The company that built the system for California ISO, Space-Time Insight, has recently released a series of videos documenting the effort.  Find below a trailer for the series:

Additional videos, to include one dedicated specifically to crisis management can be found on the Space-Time Insight video page located here.

In addition, a two-page background document is available here.

Comment: The above featured video and supporting reference material bring to mind at least five different points about the apparent future of the Geospatial Revolution in the utility sector:

  1. Geospatial technologies and SCADA will become increasingly intertwined.
  2. Geospatial products and services will become less about applications run by trained professionals, and more about inclusive systems that provide basic analytical capabilities to information managers and decision makers.
  3. ESS related geospatial information will become an essential element of information in the control system of any well managed utility.
  4. In order to prioritize response efforts, emergency managers and responders will need real-time access to a geospatial "Big Picture" for each major utility within their zone of responsibility.
  5. In much the same way utility companies were at the forefront of efforts to introduce GIS technology, they are now on the cutting edge of efforts to introduce Common Operating Picture (COP) technology - something of great value to the ESS.
Taken together, the thoughts above are the reason the EPC began developing a working relationship with the Geospatial Information and Technology Association (GITA) in 2009.  GITA stood then, as it does now, as the lone professional geospatial organization in this arena that is not stuck in the present, nor beholden to any specific software.  Instead, through its GECCo effort dating back to 2004, and its Emergency Response Symposium effort dating back to 2008, it had anticipated the paradigm shift in the utility sector that is now starting to materialize.  It's also the reason GITA alone has received Department of Homeland Security (DHS) financial backing for delivery of its GECCo program; most recently in Dallas and the Twin Cities, and soon to be followed in the San Francisco East Bay on January 26 and 27, 2012, and Charlotte, NC, later this spring.   

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