Measuring return on investment for GIS projects is a challenge at the best of times. So when a story comes along that illustrates measurable returns as a direct result of a GIS initiative, we want to tell you about it; especially when FME is at the core of the project.
Many utilities have digital spatial information about their assets and use it regularly in the context of inventory, planning and repairs. But when it came to damage prevention, Tampa Electric Company wasn’t taking advantage of this data to support decision making for “locates” – the physical identification of buried facilities such as power or gas lines.
Sunshine State One Call receives these locate requests and generates the initial ticket. Tampa Electric’s notifications were based on a gridded service territory, which resulted in tickets being issued for every request, 100% of which were sent to the field. In 2008, $900,000 (out of a $1,150,000 budget) was spent on field visits for no-conflict tickets.
So, they turned to Louis Panzer and the team at Locate Support Systems (LSS) to build a solution that would help them improve ticket handling accuracy and efficiency. Since initial tickets are generated by an external source – the Sunshine State One Call service – and then screened by internal personnel at Tampa Electric, there were two tasks at hand.
The first step was to improve the accuracy of the data provided to the One Call service by replacing the grid system with buffered polygons around the actual facilities. LSS used FME to extract the underground lines and features from Tampa Electric’s Oracle® database and then generate a set of 100 foot buffers destined for One Call’s IRTH system. Replacing the grids with these polygons has resulted in more accurate ticket generation with an actual average monthly reduction in tickets issued of 28%. That translates to an annual savings of $150,000 USD per year. And that’s just step one.
Step two was focused on improving the internal screening process at Tampa Electric. FME was used to generate a set of 25 foot buffers for their internal system. When they receive a ticket, these 25 foot buffers are used to review the request. By analyzing this information, along with other internal and external data, the screener can now make an informed decision as to whether a field locate is required or not. Implementing this process gave Tampa Electric an additional reduction of 50% in ticket volume, for total estimated annual savings of $390,000 USD.
Tampa Electric realized a positive ROI within three months. The cycle of ticket management and data updating, with FME at the center, imposes a full circle review on the GIS data. This has resulted in higher confidence in the data, improved accuracy and efficiency, and most importantly, increased damage protection and public safety. It’s a win all around.