CenterPoint Energy and Portal for ArcGIS with Cindi Salas and Rob Robertson

Cindi Salas and Rob Robertson of CenterPoint Energy show how Portal for ArcGIS is helping to extend enterprise GIS across their organization.

Jun 28th, 2014

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00:01ArcGIS Online increasingly provides organizations with a gateway into their data, maps, and apps.

00:09But what if we need that same infrastructure on premise?

00:14This requirement has driven our development for ArcGIS 10.2...

00:19...leading to the release of Portal for ArcGIS, bringing web GIS on premise.

00:26To show us how Portal for ArcGIS is beginning to extend enterprise GIS across their entire organization...

00:33...please welcome from CenterPoint Energy Cindy Salas and Rob Robertson. Welcome.

00:41Thank you, Lauren. Good morning. I'm Cindy Salas, the director of land and field services at CenterPoint Energy.

00:47Land and field services also includes our GIS department among others.

00:52And with me today is Rob Robertson. He is one of our key system analysts in the GIS group at CenterPoint.

00:59Just a few notes about CenterPoint. We're a domestic energy delivery company that's headquartered in Houston, Texas.

01:06We operate six business segments that provide services to some 23 states in the US.

01:13Primarily what we're showcasing and talking about today...

01:16...we have approximately five and a half million electric and gas customers in this six-state area.

01:23To serve all these customers, we have approximately 165,000 miles of electric and gas lines...

01:30...and to put that in perspective, if you could lay it end to end... would circle the globe at the equator about six and a half times.

01:38And we have millions and millions of line features - point features and devices...

01:45...such as poles and meters and transformers and gas valves, and so on.

01:50To manage that enormous infrastructure, we began using GIS back in the '70s, and since that point in time... all of the data and GIS applications are utilized by virtually all of our 9,000 employees.

02:05And the information provided from those systems is a key part of most...

02:11...or many, of our key strategic initiatives at CenterPoint.

02:15So this presents ongoing challenges for us. How do we really put the power of GIS... the hands of users in a way that they feel enabled, they feel empowered?

02:25And how do we continue to manage the content?

02:29So we've looked at ArcGIS Online over the last few years...

02:32...but hosting that data outside our firewall is against our corporate standards.

02:38So then we heard about Portal for ArcGIS, which could exist in our environment.

02:42So four weeks ago, little less than four weeks ago, we became early adopters of Portal.

02:50And what you're going to see here today are the results of those efforts to date.

02:54We had some on-site assistance from Esri, to be quite honest, for a few days.

02:59However, it was actually and truly much easier to build out than we had anticipated.

03:04So we're going to show you a few examples today of how we can put the power of dynamic data...

03:09...really at the fingertips of our users, how we can deploy existing and try out new applications...

03:15...and how we can ensure that we're delivering the right content to the right users.

03:19And so Rob is going to show us the first few illustrations. Rob.

03:24Thanks, Cindy. At CenterPoint, we have thousands of prerendered static maps available in our map gallery.

03:32We have long wanted to replace our static maps and give our users the ability to make their own maps using dynamic data.

03:39With Portal, we can now provide that functionality. And here's an example of one way they might use it.

03:47I'll start with a map that shows the Houston electric footprint.

03:58And here's an area where I have some work I need to do today.

04:05At this point, I need to see the smart meters and where they're located.

04:14Smart meters send usage data to the corporate office. But, how do the meters communicate with the network?

04:25Here are the devices that make up the communication network.

04:33I can also determine which devices communicate with each other.

04:39Now this was a quick and easy process, and we've enabled an employee to use the power of GIS in their daily job.

04:47Further, with Esri's Map for Office, our users can easily create a map from an Excel spreadsheet.

04:56Here's an actual spreadsheet we receive daily that lists meters for which we did not receive electronic reading.

05:05Now we're not sure why we do not receive electronic reading, but by viewing the meters geographically on a map...

05:13...we might be able to gain some additional insight. I can now investigate a missing meter read.

05:28As you can see, these are the same layers from our dynamic map.

05:34I can immediately see that these meters are grouped together.

05:39That might tell us that there's a problem with the communication network.

05:44If it's an isolated meter, I might want to see where the critical customers are located in this area, like a hospital.

05:56If there is, my next step might be to contact the appropriate area of the company... ensure that this high-profile outage has been addressed.

06:06This technology provides another tool for CenterPoint personnel using GIS.

06:11And now Cindy will discuss other possible uses for Portal.

06:14Okay. Thanks, Rob. So, that was good.

06:22As we mentioned, we would also use Portal to try out, you know, different types of new applications...

06:28...and so we're going to give you a sneak peek at a prototype application that we're trying out through Portal.

06:33You know, today, we already have numerous types of weather feeds that we subscribe to...

06:38...that give us information about weather that's approaching our territory that might cause some damage, and that's good.

06:45But, with this new application, Thunderbird, it takes a different approach for us.

06:54Thunderbird consumes secured web maps of our authoritative data...

06:59...and it leverages geoevent processor for handling the real-time weather data.

07:05So processing all that information together, this app kind of predicts where the damage may be occurring.

07:11And if you look at the bars on the right, the analytics part... actually the information is changing as the storm is passing through the area...

07:20...and it's interacting with the assets, and it's predicting the damage at that specific point in time.

07:25So looking at the data this way is a little more real time, it's specific than what we're currently doing.

07:30And we believe that we can exploit some additional capabilities of this going forward.

07:36So now we have an indication that there's some damage in the area...

07:39...and we probably need to take a closer look at one of those areas to see what we can find.

07:45So we need to very quickly send some inspectors out to the field to verify what they can actually find on the ground.

07:51And this was an unexpected storm that popped up so they weren't really prepared...

07:55...and they want to do what they're comfortable with.

07:57There's no time for them to take a full-blown, full-developed GIS field data collection application to the field.

08:03They want to do that common thing. They want to grab a piece of paper, a map, and they want to take it to the field...

08:09...and they want to mark it up and capture data that way and bring it back to the office.

08:14So with Portal, resources can use this new, just developed program that we have called RIP...

08:20...and that stands for rapid inspection program.

08:23And with this program, the inspectors are basically utilizing low-cost smart devices...

08:28...such as this iPad that Rob is going to bring up or other type of devices...

08:33...and they can simply access the Portal, they can capture the information that they need to capture...

08:39...such as wires down or gas line ruptured or the roadways are impassable, wherever the situation is.

08:47They save that back to the Portal.

08:49So the power of that is it's immediately available to anybody that might need to take action on that, right.

08:55They want secure the area, send a larger crew, or order supplies, whatever the case is. But it's immediately available.

09:04So with these few examples that we've shown you today, with Portal at 10.2...'s now giving us the ability to leverage what we liked about ArcGIS Online...

09:16...but to do it for CenterPoint within our environment where we can control it and we can secure it...

09:21...and we can tailor it for specific groups, which is important because of the breadth of those 9,000 and growing volume of users.

09:30We feel this provides the capability to make a great enterprise deployment even better...

09:36...and it's empowering the work force to create their own maps and perform their own geographic analysis...

09:43...even those nontypical GIS users, with current dynamic data about our company's assets...

09:49...and they would also interact with additional content that we would make available...

09:54...through ArcGIS Online to the users of the Portal.

09:57So we spent really just four short weeks, and we were pretty excited.

10:02We think this is just the beginning of a whole new mechanism...

10:05...for the way that we are delivering and demonstrating the value of GIS to our company. Thank you.

10:20Thank you so much, Cindy and Rob, for sharing your work with us...

10:22...and for giving all of us a peek behind the scenes at CenterPoint. Thanks, again.

10:26Thank you.

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