< GIS and Capital Planning: they belong together.

GIS and Capital Planning: they belong together.

Posted on March 16 2017

GIS and Capital Planning: they belong together.

The capital planning process allows local government, utility and pipeline operators to define and coordinate capital projects, engage external agencies, and share capital improvement plans. Capital projects are typically defined for physical assets and are used to maintain, improve, and/or enhance them. They are key initiatives as they stabilize debt and allow organizations to consolidate projects, reduce reactive work, promote partnership and ensure efficient use of funds. These projects are often highly visible and have significant financial impact on the organization.

Technology can play a prominent role in the success of the capital planning process which requires information, communications and coordination. Over this three-part series I will discuss and give examples of how GIS (a specific technology), can provide key advantages and efficiencies during the planning process and ultimately lead to successful capital projects. In my previous role as an executive at a utility I would have loved to have what Novara can now offer to every one of its clients.

If you're still looking for a reason to continue reading, here is a simple example of value you can get from engaging GIS in capital planning. Capital plans required vast amounts of information from a variety of types to be successful. A GIS allows your team to create an easy to understand interface (a GIS based system of engagement) where maps, model results, tables and graphics encapsulating the plan are available. It can be used to support the planning process. It becomes the platform for valuable status meetings, keeps the organization's teams coordinated, and ensures that everything from detailed information through focused metrics are available when and where the organization needs them.

The individual capital projects are where the meat of the plan is defined by engineers and modeled by analysts. A GIS based system of insight creates measures which can be used to determine where and when money should be allocated. The results of this analysis can be used to establish the financial foundation for the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). So how is it done? Esri offers two free solutions that can be used to facilitate capital planning projects. The Capital Project Planning and Capital Project Tracking solutions, provide the underpinnings for comprehensive capital project solutions. Let's say you are responsible for a city's capital transportation planning. You would be able to define your capital needs based on historic work and the status of your existing assets. Once budgets are approved you can use the same environment to coordinate project schedules, track project performance, and share project status with key stakeholders and if necessary, the general public.

What do you need to make the implementation of GIS capital planning system successful?

    1. Make sure your GIS system has data. At minimum, you'll need basic asset information including asset type, install date and other basic pieces of information. Historical condition assessments, inspections, and maintenance records will help and make your results more precise. Actual data is best, but estimates are better than no data.
    2. Start small. These can easily become very large initiatives. Create assignments that can be effectively, and quickly completed. For example don't begin by creating a plan for your entire portfolio of assets. Start with a specific type, like walkways or service lines, or a pilot region.
    3. Determine when and if the result will be valuable. Pick a place where you need to understand the costs associated with replacement.
    4. Understand the situation and identify the factors to define the cadence for replacement. This is critical. It is hard to determine when you need to plan for the replacement of cast iron pipeline if you don't know when it has exceeded its lifespan or how much of it you have. Pick a situation that you understand and where you can show value.
    5. Make sure you have the right people available. You will need the correct subject matter experts involved to provide value. If you don't have them, find them. If you are planning for road replacement involve a transportation engineer who supports that area.
    6. Have a method for modeling so that you are able to determine when and where capital work will need to be done. See the next part of this series for ideas.

Capital planning is a significant undertaking for an organization with many complex elements and the adoption of a GIS system is just one critical component. In the next article, I will discuss the role of Predictive modeling in capital planning to provide an understanding of how predictive modeling can either reduce costs or provide justification for a capital cost.

Media Contact: Victoria Skogman, 781-982-7700, vskogman@novarageo.com

About Novara GeoSolutions

Novara GeoSolutions is a frontrunner in supplying the Energy industry with software solutions and consulting services to manage the full data lifecycle of pipeline assets. Our geospatial technology can be applied to a wide range of pipeline workflows such as DOT compliance, engineering design, asset management, right-of-way management, and mobile workforce computing. For more information, please visit www.novarageo.com.

About CHA Consulting, Inc.

CHA Consulting, Inc. is a highly diversified, full-service engineering and construction management firm providing a wide range of planning and design services to public, private and institutional clients. With more than 1,000 technical personnel and 40 offices, CHA offers engineering, architectural, survey, construction, and other services necessary to complete projects on time and within budget. For more information, please visit www.chacompanies.com.

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