PowerStream Inc. is the third largest local electricity distribution company in Ontario, providing service to more than 240,000 residential and business customers in the municipalities of Aurora, Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan. It is an incorporated entity, jointly owned by the City of Vaughan and the Town of Markham.
Each municipality had its own legacy GIS dataset complete with unique data models, symbology, nomenclature and identification numbers that needed to be merged into a single system. Using ArcFM, PowerStream created a consolidated data model only four months after the start of the project, converted all of the data within ten months and made GIS information, maps and data available to staff across the organization within one year.
Using GIS, PowerStream was able to merge a wealth of information into a single dataset that now represents their entire electrical network, explains John Houweling, Ontario Regional Manger for ESRI Canada. This is only one example of how PowerStream has implemented GIS to improve their services and internal operations.
Since developing the consolidated dataset, GIS has become an integral part of PowerStreams operations in many other capacities. In 2007, PowerStream launched a mobile GIS application that enables information collected in the field to be captured, stored, manipulated and automatically served back to the main office.
Previously, locate tickets would be recorded on paper and mailed back to the office which proved to be a time consuming and inefficient process, as PowerStream processes over 40,000 locates per year. PowerStream also improved efficiencies by scanning thousands of paper engineering drawings and making them available through ArcMap. The drawings are now spatially enabled and can be easily searched by drawing number, name, or location.
Company-wide awareness of GIS has increased dramatically and requests for GIS reports and mapping products have jumped by 40% each year since implementing GIS, explains Kris Philpott, Manager of GIS Development for PowerStream. The improvement in internal efficiencies has helped us minimize overhead and maximize our assets, which of course leads to better service for all of our customers.
Looking forward, PowerStream plans to leverage both ArcFM Responder and ArcFM Designer to further improve their use of GIS technology and to more effectively manage power outages. With Responder, PowerStream can manage trouble calls and outages in a scalable, web-based desktop environment while Designer will enable Technicians to design in a standardized GIS environment.