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How the Esri Utility Network Transforms Utility Data Management

EpochSync Pro Facilitates Migrating Data to this Powerful Network

As utilities grapple with escalating challenges in a complex and dynamic environment, many are looking to solutions like the Esri ArcGIS Utility Network to simplify data management while ensuring integrity, even across massive data sets.

“Throughout our 15-year relationship with Esri—and now as an Esri Gold Partner—we’ve worked together to identify and solve utilities’ needs, especially by integrating Esri technology with our own suite of solutions,” noted James Street, Epoch Solutions Group CEO. “With the need to manage and integrate data becoming both more challenging and more critical for utilities, we see great value in helping our customers leverage powerful tools like the Esri Utility Network.”

We recently tapped Esri Product Manager Saranya Kesavan to share insights on how the company’s next-generation ArcGIS Utility Network is helping to improve data management amidst transformative change.

New Challenges Make Data Management Vital

Grid modernization has become a high priority across the utility industry, especially as electricity demand rises in response to the shift to clean energy, increased electric vehicle adoption, and a rise in data center power usage to support cloud-based applications. The increase in electricity demand is redefining the power load and tasking utilities with improving energy supply and reliability, according to Kesavan.

“It’s all placing a lot more demand on the grid,” she said. At the same time, climate change is fueling more frequent and severe storms, resulting in more power outages that require utilities to respond quickly and efficiently and maintain high customer satisfaction.

“Challenges like these make a utility’s network more mission-critical than ever, while making data management essential yet more difficult,” Street pointed out. As utilities strive to improve this function, many are moving to the Esri ArcGIS Utility Network.

Setting the Foundation

The ArcGIS Utility Network serves as a system of record that captures data on all utility assets in detail, ensuring that any applications built on the platform can readily access the data required. According to Kesavan, Esri’s network management solution as it is today has evolved over the last 20 years in lockstep with technology advancements.

“Esri’s initial geometric network was robust at the time, but the technology and the industry have changed significantly,” she said. The then-current technology which the network was built on presented inherent limitations, particularly at a time when utilities often maintained data in multiple, disparate applications that didn’t provide a holistic view or enable access to timely, accurate information.

“For example, field crews often lacked real-time information about changing conditions, especially data from downstream applications like their outage management system,” she explained.

As both the technology and the industry’s needs evolved, the Esri network did too. “We considered how utilities are now organizing their data, the workloads they’re managing, and how to future-proof the model,” Kesavan said. With the retirement of Geometric Network, Esri created a next-gen utility network on the ArcGIS Pro mapping and visualization platform.

Integrity, Scalability, and Productivity Top the List

Esri built its new ArcGIS Utility Network to address three common and interrelated needs of today’s utilities: data integrity, network scalability, and network management productivity.

“By using a services-oriented network, utilities can spend less time on tasks like controlling who can access and edit data, improving productivity without sacrificing data integrity or security,” Kesavan said. At the user level, the network restricts data access based on login credentials, while at the network level, rules fire off dynamically as data is edited, triggering error messages that reduce the odds of inputting bad data.

“The network rules can control what type of transformer can connect with what type of conductor,” she explained. “The goal is to ensure the Utility Network is robust and stable, and that it identifies any workflows with potential to corrupt the organization’s data set.” With data volumes growing rapidly within most utilities, the highly scalable network is designed to reduce the strains of day-end processing, ensuring data is clean, up to date, and pushed out to every downstream application, even when large volumes are involved.

The Esri ArcGIS Utility Network also facilitates moving from manual workflows to automated workflows that speed and streamline work, improve accuracy, and leverage the value of digitized data. “For example, rather than draw up a rough sketch of a field installation and send it to GIS team, field crews can capture that information digitally,” Kesavan said.

Managing data in a dynamic environment demands that the utility’s staff has a clear, accurate view of what’s happening in the field at all times. Esri’s Utility Network aims to provide that view through a highly detailed network model and built-in visualization tools that remove visual clutter while keeping data within reach. “Each user can choose the level of detail they need to see,” she said, while authorization measures ensure data security.

Additionally, end users and system administrators can utilize dashboards with embedded awareness of the utility network topology and associations. “Utilities are customizing these dashboards to gain a better understanding of what’s happening in their network at any given time, through a single system of record,” Kesavan explained. The more applications integrated, the more holistic the view. “That enables utilities to identify trends, gather insights, develop mitigation plans to solve problems, and work proactively to prevent them.”

Solving the Dilemma of Getting Data Into the Network

One of the impediments to using the Esri Utility Network is the challenge of migrating data from GE Smallworld Version Managed Data Stores and other GIS databases that store utility transmission and distribution GIS data. Since the data models involved vary significantly, it isn’t always easy to port the data over.

“As more utilities look to leverage the Esri Utility Network for map-based applications like emergency operations management, outage management, and streetlight management, we recognized that the data migration need was becoming more pressing,” Street said.

That’s why Epoch Solutions Group developed EpochSync Pro, a GIS data migration software tool that simplifies the migration of GE Smallworld data to Esri. EpochSync Pro helps utilities harness the full power of the Esri ArcGIS Utility Network by providing a seamless way to synchronize data bidirectionally and accurately between Smallworld Version Managed Data Stores and Esri ArcGIS Enterprise Geodatabases, even for large data volumes. “We specifically wrote this tool in the ArcGIS Pro SDK to fully leverage the value of the network and the ArcGIS functionality on behalf of our utility customers,” Street said.

EpochSync Pro is part of the Epoch Solutions Group suite of solutions, helping utilities leverage the power of GIS data to transform field operations. Contact Epoch Solutions Group to schedule a demo of EpochSync Pro, or contact Esri to schedule a demo of the Esri ArcGIS Utility Network.

BC Hydro Successfully Leverages the Power of GIS Technology from Multiple Providers

Electric utilities face unprecedented challenges in today’s dynamic and quickly evolving energy landscape. Navigating the complexities of adapting to changing regulations and standards, exceeding higher consumer expectations, upgrading legacy IT systems and aging infrastructure, addressing technology constraints, meeting the ever-increasing demand for energy, confronting extreme weather patterns and moving away from fossil fuel sources, all while delivering reliable and affordable electric service, present utilities with an array of hurdles.

In response to these daunting obstacles, utilities are investing in grid modernization, transitioning to renewable energy sources, focusing on effectively navigating regulatory pressures, and engaging with customers in new ways.

For BC Hydro, generating and delivering electricity to 95% of the population of British Columbia, Canada, involves 30 hydroelectric plants and a network of more than 80,000 kilometers of power lines that transport power across a varied terrain. Ensuring reliable service to more than five million customers in this demanding environment requires ready access to robust GIS data.

Since the utility’s GIS information for transmission and distribution resided in GE Smallworld, the organization sought more tools to work with that data effectively.

Read more on Electric Energy Online >

5 Trends That Will Impact Utilities in 2024

The environment that utilities operate in is more complex and volatile than ever, with significant forces impacting the ability to plan effectively and meet every stakeholder’s needs. James Street, CEO of Epoch Solutions Group, reviews the five trends he believes will have a major influence on utilities in the coming year.

1. Climate risks and electrification are stressing the grid.

More frequent and severe storms have become the norm and are expected to continue for the foreseeable future. While hurricanes have always been a concern, convective storms, extreme heat, and wildfires are also on the rise, placing more pressure on the grid. For example, a McKinsey report forecasts that by 2030, Minnesota will see a 75 percent rise in extreme heat days and Colorado will see a 29 percent increase in severe thunderstorm frequency. Almost 90 percent of the western US could experience as many as 30 high Fire Weather Index days annually. And persistent droughts are making it tougher for thermal and hydroelectric utilities to ensure reliable power. With much of the industry’s infrastructure assets well beyond their intended lifespan, extreme weather also becomes more difficult to respond to, resulting in more temperature-induced power line losses and longer power interruptions. The electrification trend and rising data center power use are likewise stressing the grid in ways we couldn’t foresee just a decade ago. As consumers and businesses adopt electric vehicles and favor electric heat pumps, electricity demand is escalating. And as AI, blockchain, and cloud computing become more prevalent, they’re driving up data center power consumption. With seasonal load profiles changing and electricity demand rising, utilities face greater pressure to ensure grid reliability and performance. In this disruptive environment, field asset management and vegetation management become more difficult yet more critical, demanding digitized, flexible platforms that enable utility staff to complete these tasks efficiently and accurately.

2. Grid planning is becoming more complex.

A dynamic and volatile environment will continue to complicate holistic grid planning that’s designed to manage growth, improve reliability, and enhance resilience. For example, dispersed and aging infrastructures, outdated technology, changing regulations, and evolving risks all make it more difficult to plan and manage field assets effectively. That includes assessing and monitoring asset health and risk, managing vegetation risk, and deploying field resources optimally, both for proactive, scheduled work and emergency situations. The increase in bidirectionality is only adding to grid planning complexity. Millions of devices at the edge—including solar panels, electric vehicles, and smart thermostats—are now participating in power generation and impacting grid behavior. This trend will make it more vital, though more complicated, to model and manage utility assets in the context of rising risks, changing customer behaviors, and aging assets. Enhanced modeling and asset management solutions will prove increasingly critical, especially to help field crews work optimally during regular operations and mutual assistance scenarios. With access to real-time information about live and offline assets, utilities can improve asset management planning by empowering field crews with accurate data and enhanced situational awareness.

3. New government policies are posing new requirements for utilities.

While government policy always has the potential to impact utility operations, two of the latest rules from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will likely require utilities to meet new requirements for ensuring gird reliability. One such rule directs the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to develop a standard around transmission system planning for extreme heat and cold weather conditions. Another requires power transmission providers to report on their policies and processes for conducting extreme weather vulnerability assessments and identifying strategies to mitigate these risks. In addition, several energy policies aim to advance smart grid technology that has the potential to help electricity distributors reduce costs, improve reliability, and meet the challenge of balancing supply and demand. Though there are significant benefits to be realized, developing and implementing smart grid technology will require major capital investments. Many utilities are already moving ahead with smart grid systems that employ two-way communication and intelligent devices, aided by various US Department of Energy grant programs.

4. Government investment is facilitating the clean energy transition, but risks and challenges will remain.

Renewable energy adoption is increasing rapidly, now accounting for about one-fifth of US total power. With world leaders agreeing to new climate goals at the recent COP28 summit, that figure is set to rise significantly. Governments worldwide are providing financial incentives to ease the energy transition for power companies, with the US alone committing billions through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The IRA extends and modifies key tax credits for renewable energy investment and production, funds the acceleration of new energy infrastructure siting, and incentivizes carbon capture, while the IIJA is funding infrastructure modernizations that support clean energy expansion and improve resilience. Despite such financial assistance, along with the opportunity that the clean energy transition offers come a host of challenges for utilities. Renewable energy sources can be intermittent, yet consumers and businesses demand stable, reliable power. New energy sources take time to scale, but power demand is rising dramatically. The ability to plan effectively during this critical transition will require enhanced systems and better access to data that can help utilities make informed decisions about deploying and optimizing assets amidst change and unpredictability.

5. The digital technology transformation is helping utilities tackle emerging challenges.

Many utilities are finding that the transformation to digital technologies can help them meet new challenges, address emerging requirements, and adapt to continued change. In particular, they’re shifting away from legacy systems to more flexible and integrated platforms that support new ways of working. The move to cloud-based solutions, GIS-based applications, and digitized field service workflows, along with the integration of disparate systems and data sources, is helping leading utilities leverage data and technology to transform their operations and meet new challenges head-on. In modernizing their technology infrastructure and applications, utilities are prioritizing use cases that demonstrate the greatest tangible value. For example, a geospatial software platform that syncs asset data in real-time across disparate systems, applications, and devices can yield high ROI by giving operations and field teams the visibility and situational awareness to work more efficiently and safely. These digitized platforms also provide access to the data needed to prevent the disastrous consequences of unmanaged vegetation impacting power lines brought down by extreme weather, as well as inspect and manage joint use assets like poles, wires, and circuits to reduce costs and avoid redundancies.

Why Utilities Are Partnering with Epoch Solutions Group

Leading utilities recognize the value of partnering with a solutions provider that can help them meet new requirements and challenges at a time of great change and uncertainty. For many utilities, that partner is Epoch Solutions Group. Our EpochField solution leverages geospatial technology to help utilities improve field asset management, reduce costs, and minimize breakdowns and outages. This geospatial workforce management platform is empowering utilities across the US to meet reliability requirements, enhance safety, ensure power availability, and maintain compliance in a volatile environment. Schedule an EpochField demo to see how this solution can help you meet emerging challenges.
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Future-Proofing Our Grid: Tackling Challenges and Embracing Change

Our nation’s electrical grid is a crucial resource, providing safe energy across the country. While it has been reliable for a long time, it is now facing mounting pressure from various sources, threatening its stability. Utilities and regulatory agencies are being forced to respond and act to proactively address these challenges, which include reducing carbon emissions and addressing issues related to global climate change. Additionally, there’s a growing need to decentralize energy to reduce reliance on a single power source due to the increasing demands of our population and product usage, which strains available resources.

The increasing frequency of extreme weather events, such as polar vortexes and powerful hurricanes, poses significant difficulties for utilities in planning and anticipating outages. As power outages continue to increase, digital-first consumers and businesses who demand real-time information about power restoration are affected. GIS asset management tools play a vital role in enabling deep situational awareness and quick response.

Read the full article >

Better Utility Asset Management Starts with These Best Practices

A rapidly evolving regulatory landscape, higher service expectations, dispersed and aging infrastructures, technology constraints, and the shift to renewable energy sources all combine to make it more challenging than ever to deliver service reliably, safely, and profitably. This environment also makes proper asset management more difficult, yet more vital to accomplish.

Asset management helps utilities maximize value while optimizing the resources for necessary repairs and upgrades, replacing the traditional run-to-failure approach. Proactive asset management enables utilities to minimize breakdowns and outages, ensuring continued service delivery, and extending asset life.

By taking a best practices approach to asset management and leveraging digitized asset management solutions, gas and electric utilities can overcome today’s considerable operational obstacles. The following best practices provide a great start.

Define Success

Your utility asset management program should be guided by clear, thoughtful objectives. Most utilities implement an asset management program to reduce costs, improve productivity, minimize the risk of an unplanned outage, and/or extend the life and usefulness of their valuable field assets. Your specific business objectives will drive the key performance indicators (KPIs) you use to track progress against.

Evaluate Processes

Obtain a baseline of your current asset management processes and practices, focusing on what’s working vs what isn’t. Review all asset management standard operating procedures (SOPs), looking for gaps or obsolete procedures that need updating.

Take Inventory

Proper asset management demands an accurate, detailed inventory of every field asset, including its location, size, manufacturer, model, lot number, material composition, installation date, inspection history, maintenance and repair history, current condition, and projected remaining useful life. From there, you can rank the criticality of each asset using an objective scoring method, based on criteria such as how much the network relies on that asset and its importance to service delivery, along with factors like failure types, probabilities, consequences, and costs. The results will inform how you plan and prioritize asset maintenance, repair, and replacement, enabling you to invest in operational improvements with the greatest ROI.

Create a Plan

To deliver the optimal service at the optimal cost, utilities need to acquire, operate, maintain, and upgrade or replace field assets as effectively as possible. And that demands a comprehensive, continually updated asset management plan. The plan should document all your field assets, how you’ll schedule and track their maintenance and repair, how you’ll manage and track budgeted vs actual asset management expenses, risks and mitigation measures for each asset, clear roles and responsibilities, and an asset management lifecycle strategy.

Integrate Your Systems

Disparate legacy systems are common in the utility industry, but they make it tough to manage field assets proactively and strategically. Because they often store data in different formats and don’t share it seamlessly, it’s difficult to gain visibility into accurate, real-time information to direct repair and maintenance efforts. And without that information at their fingertips, field crews waste time contacting operations for the necessary details.

A solution that utilizes geospatial software can improve integration by syncing asset data in real-time across systems, applications, and devices, equipping operations teams and field staff with the visibility and situational awareness they need on the job. Platforms that integrate field asset data into critical GIS solutions, as well as mission-critical business applications from providers like SAP and Oracle, prove most effective.

What to Look for in a Digitized Field Asset Management Platform

To unlock the value of proactive asset management, many utilities are adopting geospatial technologies that digitally capture and track asset data, optimize asset performance, improve compliance, and boost efficiencies. By combining automated workflows and map-centric interfaces—and sharing data across back-office servers, cloud-based applications, and mobile apps—a digitized field asset management platform helps the operations team dispatch, schedule and deploy field crews efficiently and gives field crews the situational awareness to complete their work quickly, accurately, and safely.

Before investing in a digitized utility asset management platform, consider which features and functionalities will most help you streamline work, improve efficiency and productivity, and reduce costs. Most utilities find the following essential:

  • A single platform that drives field asset maintenance, repair, and tracking
  • Ease of configuration to match their specific needs
  • Scalability to any size or type of utility
  • Dynamic, interactive maps that provide a full view of field assets and supporting details
  • Intuitive functionality that speeds and simplifies customized workflow and work order creation
  • Flexibility to develop maintenance schedules based on skills, proximity, availability, training and certification requirements, and other criteria
  • Access to real-time data online and offline to support remote locations
  • Enterprise data integration for easy access to asset and resource data across the technology ecosystem and data sharing across systems, applications, personnel, and locations

Why More Utilities are Choosing EpochField

For many gas and electric utilities, the field asset management platform of choice is EpochField from Epoch Solutions Group.

EpochField leverages geospatial technology to help utilities improve field asset management and maintenance, reduce costs, and minimize breakdowns and outages. Our digitized asset and field management solution provides operations teams with real-time situational awareness to optimize how they deploy field crews to inspect and repair utility field assets and manage vegetation. Utilities that use EpochField are positioned to deliver the service today’s customers demand, while ensuring safety, maintaining compliance, and gaining full asset traceability.

Download our detailed Guide to Deploying an Effective Asset Management Strategy. Or contact Epoch Solutions Group to learn how EpochField can transform how your utility manages your valuable field assets.

Best Practices for Improving Utility Asset Management

Best Practices for Improving Utility Asset Management: A Guide to Deploying an Effective Asset Management Strategy

It’s never been a more challenging time to run a thriving, profitable utility company. From rapidly evolving regulations and escalating consumer service expectations to aging infrastructures and disparate legacy systems, utilities face significant operational obstacles in their quest to deliver power reliably, safely, and profitably. These challenges make proper asset management more vital than ever, yet more difficult to accomplish.

This guide is designed to help. It reviews the industry trends that are placing greater pressure on utility operations, the ways in which asset management solutions can help overcome those challenges and support a utility’s most critical business goals, the best practices that can help your organization manage assets more effectively, and how a digitized solution can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your utility asset management efforts.

Download the Guide to Learn:

  • Trends and regulations impacting asset management for utility companies today
  • The vital role that asset management has on a utility’s operating expenses and capital expenditures
  • A five-step best practices approach to utility asset management
  • How a digitized field asset management platform can help streamline work, improve efficiency and productivity, and reduce operating costs

Download the White Paper

Improving Telecom Workflows for Better Customer Service: A Guide to Enhancing the Customer Experience Through Better Field Force Automation

It’s well-documented that higher customer satisfaction directly impacts customer loyalty and retention—and that ultimately boosts customer lifetime value and profitability. In a highly competitive industry like telecommunications, the ability to deliver exceptional customer service can reduce the odds of consumers or businesses switching providers and drive down customer acquisition costs.

Yet, telecom providers face a host of challenges when it comes to delivering the service experience their customers expect, from regulatory obstacles to labor constraints to rising costs. With subscriber volume and data usage increasing exponentially, it’s not uncommon for customers to suffer through long on-hold times or experience delays and difficulties in getting their service issues resolved satisfactorily.

Download the Guide to Learn:

  • Trends impacting telecom customer service
  • Challenges that telecom providers face in delivering the service experience today’s consumers and businesses demand
  • Five telecom workflows that can improve customer service through automation
  • Use cases that illustrate the impact that telecom asset management software can have on customer service

Download the White Paper

To Migrate GE Smallworld Data to Esri, Utilities like BC Hydro Turn to EpochSync

Many utilities struggle to utilize their GIS data effectively across the enterprise, especially when that data resides within GE Smallworld. With more utilities looking to leverage the power of Esri’s ArcGIS Utility Network to gain more functionality—especially for huge datasets—the ability to migrate Smallworld data to the Esri platform is becoming a must.

So when BC Hydro faced limitations in the tools it could use to work with its transmission and distribution GIS information effectively, the company knew it was essential to make its Smallworld data accessible on Esri.

As IT Advisor Evan Schwab noted, “Other business groups in the company, like our power generation group, were using Esri for GIS data. While we currently have two GIS systems, we’re looking to develop new capabilities on the Esri platform going forward.”

Eager to gain ready access to the GIS data required to provide reliable service to more than 50 million customers, BC Hydro turned to Epoch Solutions Group’s EpochSync automated data migration tool. This scalable solution synchronizes data between Smallworld Version Managed Data Stores and Esri ArcGIS Enterprise Geodatabases, enabling even the largest utilities to easily migrate Smallworld data to an Esri geodatabase.

Once the initial synchronization is done, EpochSync only needs to perform periodic data synchronizations, ensuring just the incremental data changes are synchronized. And through a .NET-based user interface and Smallworld Magik components, EpochSync makes it easy to develop flexible mappings that support data syncing between different data models, empowering a utility’s staff to create those mappings to extract data with minimal training.

At BC Hydro, EpochSync provides a “set it and forget it” solution that runs nightly and is easy for internal staff to configure and maintain. Now, this British Columbia-based utility can use tools like ArcGIS Story Maps to develop distribution planning maps and share GIS data with external groups to provide much-needed situational awareness when major events happen.

Read the BC Hydro case study to discover all the business benefits that EpochSync provides for leading utilities.

Overcoming the Challenges of Managing Utility Joint Use Assets

The modern world is changing rapidly, and the technologies and infrastructure that support it must evolve alongside it. This is especially true for utility companies, whose infrastructure must keep pace with changing demands and new technology. One area that has become increasingly important for utilities in recent years is joint use asset management.  

Joint use assets refer to the infrastructure components that multiple utility companies share, such as poles, wires, and conduits. They offer a range of benefits for utility companies, including cost savings, increased flexibility, and reduced infrastructure duplication. However, managing joint use assets comes with a unique set of challenges that can significantly impact the efficiency and reliability of the utility network. This article reviews the challenges of joint use assets—including overloaded poles, double poles, unauthorized attachments, conflicting needs, and regulatory compliance issues—and offers viable solutions.

Overloaded and Double Poles: Inventory is Key

Overloaded poles are a common problem with joint use assets, and they occur when too many companies attach their equipment to a single pole, exceeding its weight-bearing capacity. This can cause the pole to lean or even fall, leading to power outages, property damage, and safety hazards. Overloaded poles also make it difficult to perform maintenance and repair tasks, as it can be difficult to identify which company is responsible for the excess weight on the pole. 

Conducting regular inspections and assessments of the poles helps identify any signs of overload, allowing utility companies to proactively address an issue before it leads to a safety hazard or outage. Additionally, utility companies can work together to develop load-sharing agreements to ensure that the weight on each pole is evenly distributed among the companies using the infrastructure.

Double poles are another issue that arises when a utility operates joint use assets. Double poles occur when new poles are installed next to existing poles rather than replacing them, resulting in two or more poles serving the same purpose. Aside from the fact that double poles can be unsightly, they pose a safety hazard and make it difficult to access and maintain the equipment, increasing the risk of power outages and other issues.

One solution to this common joint use asset problem is to conduct a comprehensive inventory of all existing poles and infrastructure to identify where double poles exist, enabling utility companies to prioritize which poles to remove or replace first. Utility companies also can work together to develop joint programs to replace double poles with a single pole that meets the needs of all companies involved.

Policies, Collaboration, and Training Are Essential

Unauthorized attachments are another significant problem for joint use assets. Attaching equipment to joint use assets without proper authorization or approval can create safety hazards, reliability issues, and regulatory compliance problems. Unauthorized attachments can also interfere with the equipment of other utility companies, leading to service disruptions and other problems.

One effective way to reduce or eliminate unauthorized attachments is to develop and enforce clear policies and procedures for attaching equipment to joint use assets, including guidelines for when equipment can be attached, who can approve the attachment, and what equipment is allowed. Utility companies also can use advanced analytics and monitoring tools to identify unauthorized attachments and proactively address them before they become a problem.

Managing joint use assets can also present broader challenges. Conflicting needs are a common problem when multiple companies use the same infrastructure. For example, one company may need to access a pole to install new equipment, while another company may need to perform maintenance on the same pole at the same time. Managing these competing objectives can be a complex and time-consuming process, often requiring significant coordination and communication between the companies involved. 

To resolve conflicting needs for joint use assets, utility companies should develop collaboration tools and processes that allow multiple providers to work together more effectively. These tools can include shared communication channels, such as online portals or chat groups, where companies can coordinate their activities and schedules. Additionally, utilities can develop joint work plans that identify which tasks need to be completed and when, allowing them to better coordinate and schedule their activities.

Regulatory compliance is another area that utility companies must contend with when managing joint use assets. Utilities must comply with a range of regulations and standards, including safety standards, environmental regulations, and industry-specific guidelines, and failure to comply can result in fines, legal liabilities, and damage to the company’s reputation.

To ensure joint assets are managed in a way that complies with applicable regulations, each utility company should develop its own robust compliance program that includes regular audits and assessments to identify any areas of non-compliance. The program also should include training for employees and contractors to ensure they understand the regulations and standards that apply to joint use assets. Additionally, utility companies can work together to develop joint compliance programs that ensure all companies using the infrastructure are meeting the relevant regulations and standards. 

How an Asset Management Platform Can Help

Despite these challenges, joint use assets continue to be an essential part of the utility industry. Given the clear benefits of shared infrastructure, utility companies are finding innovative ways to address the difficulties associated with managing joint use assets.

One way that leading utility companies are successfully managing joint use assets is through the use of an asset management platform like EpochField. With EpochField, utility companies can gain visibility into the condition of joint use assets, such as overloaded and double use poles, along with the real-time situational awareness to manage unauthorized access, ensure safe and reliable power delivery, and meet the regulatory mandates governing the industry.

Highly configurable to meet each utility company’s unique operational requirements, EpochField offers these and other advanced features: 

  • Mobile offline collection and viewing of asset data for field personnel who are often working in remote locales, without an Internet connection 
  • High-performance digital maps that display geospatial data holistically and dynamically update as the system processes new data 
  • Configurable work order forms that are produced automatically based on field mapping data 

Discover how the EpochField platform can transform your utility’s joint use asset management. Schedule a demo today.

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Is Your Field Solution Configurable to Meet Your Telecom Operation Needs?

The technology environment that powers telecom field operations has never been more complex. Legacy systems must work alongside and connect with a growing number of other systems and applications, within a distributed network environment, often involving a mix of cloud-based, on-site, and mobile solutions.

Telecom field operations are also challenged by many pressures—from customers’ escalating demands for fast and reliable service, to aging equipment and network infrastructure assets and evolving regulatory requirements. In this environment, it’s critical that you can deploy your field crews effectively and accurately across a wide service area, so they can maintain your assets and infrastructure efficiently.

To overcome these challenges, telecom providers increasingly rely on GPS-based field workforce management solutions that digitize field operations, reduce manual touchpoints by automating workflows, boost field productivity, and allow teams to provide first-issue resolution to service requests. Capitalizing on these advantages requires not only choosing the right solution and partner, but configuring the platform to meet your telecom’s specific requirements and suit the way you work.

Leveraging the Power of Geospatial Technology and Digitization

Whether they’re installing or maintaining cable, poles, or cell towers, or resolving customer service-related issues, telecom field technicians and the dispatchers who schedule them need accurate, real-time information about field asset location and condition. That’s where robust telecom asset management software makes the difference.

Today’s digitized platforms capitalize on the power of geospatial technology to deliver real-time data on field crews and assets—enabling telecom providers to speed and streamline critical workflows, provide first-issue resolution, and boost productivity.

To deliver these benefits, field workforce management solutions need to capture, sync, and share field operations data in real time and provide an accurate view of conditions on the ground. Within an increasingly complicated telecom network environment, these platforms must be able to process and access field asset data across multiple systems, applications, and devices throughout the enterprise—from back-office servers to cloud-based applications and mobile devices.

It Starts with the Right Digitized Field Operations Platform

The telecom industry’s unique operational demands require infrastructure solutions that are flexible and configurable to the requirements of each enterprise. Before standardizing on a field workforce digitization platform, you need assurance it can evolve as your telecom business does—whether you’re adding or upgrading assets or expanding your service area.

The essential foundation is a field workforce management solution that’s purpose-built for the telecom industry and able to be configured to the way you work. When selecting a telecom-specific field workforce management solution, features like these should be high on the list of criteria:


  • A solution that digitizes both asset data and field crew data
  • A platform that integrates and communicates with your entire application stack and all your databases, including business process and CRM applications from third parties like Esri, SAP, and Oracle
  • Automation of all the workflows associated with field workforce management—from assigning and dispatching crews, to creating work orders, scheduling maintenance, and more
  • Real-time, two-way data synchronization between the field team’s mobile devices and the company’s back-end systems and cloud-based applications, with a mobile app that’s compatible with Android, Windows, and iOS devices
  • A GIS-based solution that leverages field mapping data for fast, efficient deployment of field crews and other resources
  • A holistic, digitized map view of the field service area, automatically updated as work is completed and crews are deployed to the next job
  • An interface that streamlines and simplifies the work, with dashboards that provide an accurate view of the service area and drag-and-drop features for assigning crews

Configuring A Platform That Supports How Your Telecom Crews Work

Beyond a feature-rich platform purpose-built for the telecom industry, you need the ability to configure the solution to support how your company works. Since no two telecom providers operate the same way, configurability is paramount to a successful experience.

Configurability features like these are essential when choosing a digitized field workforce management platform:


  • Workflow builder. A flexible workflow builder application makes it easy to build, view, edit, and configure the work forms that field crews use on their mobile devices. The best platforms support creating intelligent work forms with appropriate fields and validation rules for data entry and values.
  • Optimized scheduling/routing. A configurable field workforce management platform makes it easy to set parameters and rules for how crews are scheduled, dispatched, and routed for high efficiency—for example, accounting for a unplanned sick day or a scheduled vacation day. It’s equally essential to have the ability to segment scheduling by user or by user roles and groups you define, with automated notifications by text or email. The use of Python scripts allows automation of these tasks to be configured in ways that best suit each telecom provider’s requirements.
  • Queue mechanisms. A well-designed field workforce management platform will incorporate queue mechanisms for handling long-term processing tasks. For example, creating work orders for telecom field crews requires tracing a fiber optic cable to identify all fibers in need of inspection and/or replacement.

Supporting Your Digitized Platform

Standardizing on a field workforce platform that can be configured to meet your needs today as well as keep up with your evolving needs is vital. Yet it’s equally important to consider the service and support that will back up your chosen solution.

Look for a partner that provides ready access to technical experts with the engineering knowledge and industry-specific experience it takes to support a telecom field workforce management solution effectively. You should expect advice and insights on ways to evolve and configure your platform to keep up with your changing needs.

Your selected vendor also should be fully staffed with engineers, project managers, and other specialists who will work with your team to configure the platform’s features and functionality to suit how you operate. That’s especially critical when it comes to architecting workflows that improve field crew productivity and efficiency. Your platform partner can help bring together the various stakeholders you need input from on the front end, conducting pre-design workshops that ensure your platform is configured to achieve your desired outcomes.

How Epoch Solutions Group Can Help

Making the transition from handling field workforce management tasks manually to digitally transforming the process might sound daunting. But platforms like EpochField make the move smooth and easy.

The EpochField interface is intuitive to use, simplifying the transition for your field crews and operations staff. And with the highly experienced Epoch Solutions Group technical team as your partner, you can be assured your EpochField platform will be implemented in the configuration your telecom company needs to optimize your resources, expedite response times, and deliver the reliable service your customers expect.

Discover how the EpochField platform can transform your telecom field workforce management. Schedule a demo today!

Guide to Improving Telecom Workflows for Better Customer Service

5 Ways Automation is Transforming Telecom Field Operations Workflows

With demand for mobile data services skyrocketing in the last several years, telecommunications providers are devoting significant resources to expand their network capacity and ensure fast, reliable connectivity for customers. Achieving these vital goals depends on effective and efficient telecom field operations workflows.

Telecommunications companies can no longer rely on manual, labor-intensive, inefficient processes to manage critical tasks like scheduling work crews, dispatching teams to where they are most needed, or deciding how to best manage vegetation to avoid fall-in and grow-in risks. To improve how they install, maintain, and repair equipment and infrastructure in the field and optimize field technician deployment, leading telecom companies are turning to geospatial software specifically designed and built to improve telecom field operations.

Geospatial and digitization technology has the power to transform telecom operations by automating field operations workflows—improving field-to-office communication, reducing manual touchpoints, increasing field crew efficiency and productivity, and improving the customer experience. These solutions also make critical infrastructure data easily accessible for real-time reporting, analysis, and decision making.

Here are five telecom field operations workflows that geospatial and digitization technologies can greatly improve through automation.

1. Scheduling Field Crews

It can be challenging for telecom companies to schedule huge teams of field personnel across large geographic areas. Navigating obstacles like difficult landscapes, large data volumes, and remote regions can make the scheduling task especially tough. Yet an effective field operation demands efficient field crew scheduling.

By using a GIS solution that digitizes and synchs field data across disparate applications, telecom back-office teams can gain greater control in managing field staff scheduling, while streamlining the process by eliminating manual steps. Map-based geospatial software for telecommunications makes it easy to visualize both scheduled work and work to be scheduled in real time, for a more proactive approach to scheduling. And by mapping the telecom infrastructure, these solutions facilitate more informed crew scheduling decisions based on situational awareness of on-the-ground conditions, while accounting for factors like an employee’s upcoming time off or other unavailable time blocks.

2. Assigning and Dispatching Field Crews

Making the best decisions about where to assign and deploy telecom work crews is essential to an effective field operation, but it’s highly dependent on a significant volume of data, often residing across different systems. That makes the task of assigning and dispatching field crews an ideal case for automation.

A robust telecom field workforce management solution can ensure all the data that’s relevant to effective assignments and dispatching is captured and stored in a single database for easy access by back-office teams. Using a visual map-based dashboard, these telecom teams can see where field work crews, equipment, and other resources are currently located and make informed decisions about where to deploy those resources next. The most advanced solutions can even generate automatic dispatch instructions. As technologies like AI become more widely used, field workforce management platforms will begin to leverage historical data to develop predictive models that further improve how telecom companies assign and dispatch field crews.

3. Scheduling Proactive Maintenance

To ensure optimal uptime and access for customers, telecom providers need the ability to identify the field assets in most need of service based on their condition and maintenance history. With easy access to that information, back-office teams can assign field crews to the critical task of infrastructure maintenance, optimally and efficiently.

Automating this workflow with GIS mapping technology gives telecom providers the power to trace and track infrastructure asset condition throughout its lifecycle while also tracking field crew and equipment location in real time—all through a single, map-based interface. These advanced field workforce management tools enable back-office teams to assess the inspection, maintenance, and repair records of each asset on the map, then assign and dispatch field crews accordingly, at the touch of a screen.

4. Creating Work Orders

Today’s consumers increasingly expect first-issue resolution from every company they do business with, achieving a satisfactory resolution after their initial service inquiry. To meet that expectation, field crews need accurate work orders that enable them to get the job done quickly and efficiently on behalf of the telecom’s customers. But when this workflow is handled manually, errors and delays are likely to occur—reducing field crews’ productivity and preventing telecom companies from providing the exceptional service experience and first-issue resolution that customers demand.

Advanced geospatial field force management solutions automate and improve how telecom companies create work orders for their field crews. Accurate work orders are generated from the results of network tracing operations; then those work orders are immediately accessible for back-office teams and field crews to view and process. The most robust solutions even include route optimization capabilities, equipping field crews with the fastest route to the next assignment.

5. Managing Vegetation

Unless it’s controlled and managed properly, vegetation can become overgrown and encroach on telecommunications field equipment, especially cell tower sites. To keep vegetation from interrupting mobile service to customers, damaging property, or endangering lives, telecom companies need accurate data on the state of vegetation near every field asset. But that data often originates from many different sources (including aerial images and field crew documentation) and typically exists in a mix of both manual and digital formats.

Today’s field force management solutions make it easier for telecom companies to plan how to manage vegetation by collecting and providing access to accurate, real-time data on the state of vegetation around their valuable field assets and infrastructure. With a dynamic view of how vegetation is growing across large geographic areas, telecom providers can employ the most effective vegetation management practices to reduce fall-in and grow-in risks and stay compliant with federal, state, and local regulations.

With a robust field management solution like EpochField that utilizes geospatial technology, your telecommunications company can easily automate your most important telecom field operations workflows while making it easy for your field workforce to use. EpochField transforms how your telecom field crews and back-office teams work—enabling you to improve efficiency and productivity, reduce operational costs, and deliver the fast, reliable connectivity and service your customers demand.

Schedule an EpochField demonstration to learn how we can deliver these benefits for your telecom company.

Guide to Improving Telecom Workflows for Better Customer Service

Digitize Telecom Field Operations for First-Issue Resolution, Every Time

Customer service is a challenging proposition for telecommunications companies. Managing the service work performed by field crews involves directing a large and dispersed workforce, tracking and managing equipment, personnel, and technological assets, and ensuring that the customer experience you provide leaves a positive impression of your employees, service offering, and company overall.

Consider also that the service requirements of consumers have never been higher. Today, customers are used to getting first-issue resolution from the brands they frequent, whereby their problems are resolved immediately, during the initial service inquiry. Addressing customer concerns during these pivotal interactions takes informed field crews, and that requires them to have easy, broad access to operational data. Not to mention that many customers expect their access to be proactively managed and outages to be virtually eliminated when it comes to their Internet access.

Here’s why first-issue resolution is so important to a telecom’s business model, and how implementing an enterprise-wide digitization platform for workforce management can translate into better, more informed service experiences.

Customers Hate to Wait

According to HubSpot Research, 33% of customers “are most frustrated by having to wait for service and 33% are most frustrated by having to repeat themselves to multiple support reps.” When a customer interacts with a field worker, they expect that person to have access to all the information they need to do their job. They do not want to have repeat the problems they have experienced or find out the service technician doesn’t have the equipment they need to fix the issue. Today’s consumer is accustomed to the kind of real-time data access delivered by the likes of Amazon and Uber.

Implementing an enterprise-grade telecom asset management platform allows back-office administrators and field crews to have access to all the data they need to do their jobs well. This is because these enterprise-wide solutions enable integration across systems, applications, and users, allowing field data to be disseminated and synched across the environment in real time.

With operational data dynamically updating for everyone, they can easily pinpoint when and where outages have occurred, which customers are impacted, and which field crews are located in proximity to the site in question. This data can then guide decision making so service is expedited, and issues are resolved quickly – often with just a single service interaction.

Information Drives Customer Confidence, Grows Relationships

Research conducted by Qualtrics XM Institute shows that “compared to after a 1-2- star experience, after a 5-star experience consumers are 3.6x more likely to recommend, 3.3x more likely to trust, and 2.6x more likely to purchase more.”

However, the telecommunications industry is highly competitive, with customers constantly being wooed by a long list of providers. As a telecom, your service model must deliver a 5-star experience for customers at every touchpoint – or they are likely to seek services elsewhere.

With the real-time data access enabled by platform-grade telecom asset management solutions, your teams can keep customers informed on the progress of field service work once it is ordered. Accordingly, customers always know when field crews will arrive on-site, what issues are being addressed, and when service will be restored. The ability to track your progress puts customers at ease as they feel heard, informed, and valued, a paradigm that instills confidence in your brand. 

More Data Means Fewer Service Requests

With the deep data visibility enabled through digitization, your teams can coordinate more effectively and take a more proactive stance as well in addressing network maintenance, repairs, and upgrades. As a result, your company can more effectively run predictive models on network performance and troubleshoot many potential problems before they occur. 

Ultimately, the best service experience you can provide for customers is one of reliability. And the best way to deliver service uptime is by preventing issues in the first place. With an enterprise-grade workforce management platform in place, your teams are well supported with the universal data access they need to prevent network issues – and better meet customer needs for first-issue resolution when problems occur.

When service calls are needed on their end, and the data your field team needs to complete the work successfully and on time, your customers are happier, and your internal teams can remain focused on what they do best: improving network performance and driving innovation to keep customers engaged and loyal to your brand for the long term.

See how an enterprise-grade telecom workforce asset management platform can unlock data, transform your service model, and grow customer relationships.

Guide to Improving Telecom Workflows for Better Customer Service

Managing Utility Field Service Digital Transformation into the Next Decade: Featuring Industry Expert Peter Kelly-Detwiler

It’s evident that the utility industry will undergo a significant digital transformation over the next 10 years. How will the convergence of new technologies, new energy sources, and an increasingly complex distribution grid affect utilities in the coming years? And how can you assure your field services teams are prepared to work as safely and efficiently as possible in this rapidly evolving environment?

This was the focus of our recent webinar, Managing Utility Field Service Digital Transformation into the Next Decade. This exclusive conversation, hosted by Epoch Solutions Group founder and CEO James Street, featured Peter Kelly-Detwiler, an acclaimed thought leader in the energy industry and a highly sought speaker, author, and consultant. Peter regularly advises energy industry leaders on the latest trends and how these developments will impact their organizations.

Insights on a Future Filled with Change

During this interactive webinar, Peter and James discussed the tremendous changes on the horizon for the utility industry, how these shifts will affect the work of field services teams, and the tools and technologies that field crews will need in order to operate safely and effectively.

A key topic was the projected impact of the industry’s move toward the “three Ds”— decarbonization, digitalization, and decentralization—three trends that will make the distribution grid increasingly dynamic and complex.

For example, Peter and James reviewed how escalating climate risks are creating greater pressure to improve vegetation management and facilitate the work of out-of-state crews during the increasingly frequent and prolonged weather-related outages. They discussed the ways in which the continued move to solar and other renewable energy sources—along with the rapid adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and the evolution to vehicle-to-grid (V2G) EVs—will make the grid more data intensive and more challenging to manage. And they outlined how these transitions will impact field crews working in low-voltage environments, creating a need for technologies that provide better situational awareness and a more accurate picture of the facts on the ground by integrating local system modeling and real-time updates.

Get More Insights

This engaging webinar offered a glimpse into the future of the distribution grid and what the utility field crews of tomorrow will need in order to complete their jobs efficiently, effectively, and safely. We invite you to download the webinar recording for insights on the trends that are already beginning to impact your utility field crews. 

Schedule a demo to learn how the EpochField mobile workforce management solution can help.

Schedule a Demo

Industry Outlook 2023: 4 Utility Workforce Management Trends to Watch

The demand for workforce management technologies is growing rapidly, and this has implications for utility companies and their field operations. In fact, according to Grand View Research, the workforce management market was estimated at $6.1 billion in 2019 and is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10% through 2025. Several factors are driving this market growth, notes the research firm, including the demand for “workforce optimization, increasing cloud deployment, and the need to comply with regulatory mandates.” To meet their current and future operational challenges, utility companies can benefit tremendously from leveraging workforce management technologies. Fortunately, a new generation of enterprise-grade field workforce digitization platforms is fast emerging. These solutions are allowing utilities to take full advantage of geospatial field data to inform operational decisions, automate workflows, and enable deep, ongoing visibility into how field operations are unfolding across the service area. To discover just what technological advances are of greatest value to utilities today, Epoch Solutions Group conducted a survey of customers in December of 2022 to learn more about their most pressing challenges, opportunities for the future – and how they plan to apply digitization to sharpen their operational model. Based on customer feedback and other industry sources, we have identified four common operational objectives of utility companies today, trends that are driving technological investments and setting the stage for a digitally transformed tomorrow.

Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change

Climate change is a consequential factor impacting many industries globally. For utility companies, the phenomenon not only presents operational challenges, but it also creates additional safety risks for utility field crew workers and the communities they serve. A recent Accenture survey cited by Forbes bears this out, revealing that utility industry executives believe climate change is a growing problem, and that “utility companies must double-down on their efforts to create technology-enabled resilient systems” in response. A full 95% of utility industry survey respondents believe having “greater adaptability” in their networks is a critical step toward achieving resiliency. The majority of respondents to our own survey agree, pointing also to investments in renewable energy as a top opportunity for 2023 – and both effective vegetation management and meeting environmental/decarbonization targets as among their most notable challenges. To ensure network adaptability going forward, implementing a field workforce digitization platform is a best practice to follow as these solutions enable marked increases in technological scale and flexibility. To track and trace conditions on the ground, including vegetation growth, aging infrastructure, and other factors that pose environmental and safety risks, utilities need an advanced field workforce digitization platform built to capture vast amounts of data for dissemination, analysis, and decisioning. To combat one of the most dangerous impacts of climate change – the increasing prevalence of wildfires – utilities need to focus on modernizing their vegetation management practices. With a feature-rich, highly automated field operations platform in place, utility operations teams can leverage real-time field data to track the growth patterns of vegetation more accurately and then take the steps necessary to protect their infrastructure assets from dry brush and other fire hazards. The ability to track field data at a granular level also allows utility companies to respond faster and more strategically when adverse weather conditions arise, including devastating winter storms and hurricanes that can cause widespread outages impacting entire geographic regions. The ability to trace and track the condition of assets and their surrounding terrain also enables utility companies to demonstrate their compliance with environmental and safety regulations – and to continuously improve business practices in ways that better protect consumers, structures, wildlife, and the environment going forward.

Automating Workflows for Better Productivity

Another top operational challenge noted by our survey respondents is the industry’s reliance on outdated systems and infrastructure. Legacy systems that have evolved over time simply lack the extensibility utilities require today to meet fast-advancing service demands. To unlock the power of their data, utilities need the ability to integrate systems and resources from cloud and back-office technologies to the mobile devices deployed in the hands of field crew workers. A modernized, seamlessly integrated enterprise, built on workforce digitization technology, gives utilities the connectivity they need to share data across all their applications, including the GIS solutions they rely on operationally and enterprise-wide business applications from companies like Oracle and SAP. Seamless data sharing across the continuum enables greater visibility into operational processes and their impacts, better collaboration among teams, and a more informed approach to field operations management overall. Consider also the industry’s aging workforce, a dynamic that is impacting utility companies on many levels. In fact, analysts predict that 50% of the industry’s workforce will retire or otherwise exit the profession in the near term, leaving utilities shorthanded in several key areas – from field crew technicians and administrative dispatchers to back-office service teams and engineers. To fill in these vitally important skill gaps, it is essential for utilities to deploy technologies that enable automation of workflows and processes. By automating routine tasks, utility companies can ensure that new staff members and contractors have the technological support they need to increase their productivity and keep systems and assets running optimally in the future. The most advanced digitization solutions on the market today can facilitate automation in many key areas, from scheduling and dispatching crews to data collection, entry, and analysis. These types of feature-rich solutions built for automation, connectivity, and scale will allow your company to meet staffing challenges head-on by digitizing repeatable tasks, enabling universal data access and sharing, and keeping personnel resources focused on the high-level, strategic initiatives needed to promote operational efficiency, safety, security, and sustainability.

Meeting the Expectations of Digital-First Consumers

The digital expectations of consumers today are higher than ever. Companies like Amazon and Google have taught consumers well that they can expect the exact information, products, and services they need on demand. This dynamic has widespread implications, and utility companies are taking note: our survey results point to customer satisfaction as a notable challenge facing utilities today. No longer is it acceptable to make modern consumers wait at home for hours for a service call – or to repeat themselves over and over again to different service reps when requesting a repair. Customers today expect data to be readily available to everyone involved. That means they expect to be updated, frequently, on when crews will arrive – and when they do, customers expect crews to know exactly what needs to be done – and to be fully equipped to fix the issue at hand. With an advanced field workforce digitization framework implemented, your utility company can capture, synch, and share real-time field data with employees and customers alike for expedited response times, better communication, and more rewarding consumer experiences.

Turning Field Data Into Actionable Insights

Data management is another major challenge cited by our survey respondents – and for good reason. Field data today is streaming into utility company systems and applications at an unprecedented rate, as the number of drones, sensors, smart meters, satellites, LiDAR systems, mobile devices, and digital cameras proliferate across both populated urban settings and remote locales. The ability to digitize, standardize, store, and analyze the volumes of field data utilities receive is transforming the way field operations are managed. With deep real-time visibility into operational data, utility back-office administrators can make more strategic, timely field crew deployment decisions that ensure the performance of infrastructure assets. Going forward, advances in high-performance computing and digitization technologies promise to help utility companies leverage their data streams in exciting new ways. As new, faster, more powerful hardware and software solutions become available, utilities will be able to advance their enterprise infrastructure to better leverage AI, machine learning, and other data-intensive applications used to run predictive models. Proactive analysis of utility field data will prove instrumental going forward in critical decision-making processes related to crew staffing, scheduling, and dispatching, and to future investments in technology and equipment.

Choosing the Right Provider

Technologies designed to track field assets in real time, deliver universal data access, scale operational workflows, and automate key processes are already helping utility companies achieve dramatic increases in responsiveness, efficiency, and service uptime. And we are only scratching the surface of what utility workforce digitization solutions will enable in the future. To ensure your investments fully deliver on their promise going forward, be sure to partner with a technology provider that can help you design a comprehensive, long-term plan for your infrastructure – and that offers the development, deployment, and service resources needed to implement new workforce digitization and automation technologies as they emerge. With population growth exploding across many areas of our nation and demand for energy resources increasing accordingly, your utility operations teams will be expected to perform at ever-higher levels going forward. Having the technological resources in place now to support this paradigm will allow you to advance your service levels to meet future operational demands, ensuring that your customers have the safe, reliable, affordable energy they need to power their daily lives for years to come. Epoch Solutions Group can help you meet the challenges ahead in 2023 and beyond. Contact us for a free demonstration of our EpochField platform utilizing GIS technology today.
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Optimizing Field Workforce Operations Using GIS Technology for Improved Environmental, Social, and Governance Outcomes

Utilities today continue to implement environmental, social, and governance (ESG) business practices to help preserve the environment, improve working conditions, and safely deliver energy to the communities they serve. While ESG continues to be a guiding force for the industry, adhering to ESG principles takes thoughtful strategic planning and the right investments in tools and technologies. By all measures, advances in GIS mapping technologies are helping utilities fulfill their responsibilities as stewards of the environment. Here are four ways GIS frameworks can help utilities optimize their field operations to advance their ESG vision and deliver safer, more sustainable environmental outcomes as a result.

1. Supporting the Prevention of Wildfires

One of the most impactful ways GIS technologies improve ESG outcomes is in the fight against wildfires and other impacts of climate change. The ability to digitally map the terrain across service areas at a granular level allows utility companies to better track vegetation growth patterns – and determine which wooded areas pose the greatest fire danger going forward. With this real-time field data in hand, utility companies can proactively address potential trouble spots before they escalate and manage vegetation in ways that minimize environmental risks.

2. Going Paperless

Traditionally, field data collection has been a paper-intensive process, requiring crews to fill out hard-copy forms, take notes manually, and draw their own illustrations and schematics to record the condition of infrastructure assets. With an advanced GIS mapping technology implemented in a field service management platform, utility companies can instead fully digitize data collection, allowing field crews to capture, record, and disseminate the field data they collect using just their smartphones. The most sophisticated platforms on the market today come with a highly intuitive mobile app that field workers can easily download and operate, online or off, from any mobile device they use on the job. Not only does this technology eliminate the volumes of paper once generated by the industry, but it also facilitates faster, clearer communication between field crews, internal employees, and customers, for better response times to service requests and improved infrastructure performance overall.

3. Reducing Energy Consumption

GIS mapping technology is proving instrumental in helping utility companies prioritize the scheduling and deployment of crews and ensuring that their time and equipment are fully optimized. One of the most valuable benefits GIS technology offers utility companies today stems from their embedded route optimization tools. These tools of productivity allow utility personnel to pinpoint the exact location of field crew members, equipment, and other resources, and automatically determine the most efficient route from their current location to the next deployment. As a result, crews can minimize their time in transit – and their fuel consumption – as they travel from place to place. In addition to reducing a utility’s energy usage, route optimization applications are yielding significant cost savings for customers across the region.

4. Safeguarding the Field Workforce

For many utilities, pipelines, powerlines, and other infrastructure assets span a highly diverse terrain, from complex urban settings to remote mountainous areas, swampland, deserts, and waterways. Inspecting, maintaining, and repairing utility assets often takes crews into dangerous, unfamiliar settings that can put their safety at risk. GIS technologies help ensure safer working conditions for field crews by allowing utilities to quickly sift through the immense volumes of field data they collect and pass pertinent information on to crews, so they are aware of – and prepared to navigate – any hazardous conditions. Once on site, field crews can send up-to-date data back to internal operations teams as well, information that can be stored, shared, and analyzed immediately for real-time actionable insights into the condition of infrastructure assets and their surrounding environment. Having this level of situational awareness helps utility companies quickly identify workplace hazards and make more informed, proactive decisions on how to address them.

The Benefits of a Platform-Level Solution

As a utility company executive, the technologies you implement today will have a significant impact on your company’s ability to operate sustainably in the future. To ensure that your utility continues to meet advancing environmental standards, deploy a comprehensive, platform-level field workforce management solution using GIS technology. A feature-rich GIS mapping framework allows your utility company to easily collect, access, and share field data, seamlessly integrate your infrastructure assets, and enable the technological scale and extensibility needed to deploy future innovations. To unlock all the benefits offered by GIS mapping technology, look for a field management solution that features a powerful, integrated scheduling engine designed to streamline and automate operational workflows. The platform you select should also feature a highly visual, interactive map-based interface that updates and displays real-time field data and allows internal teams to automatically initiate crew deployments with drag-and-drop simplicity. With GIS mapping technology deployed as part of your field workforce management platform, all stakeholders, from your administrative teams to field crews deployed in the most remote locales, can better communicate and collaborate – and ultimately make more informed, data-driven decisions to ensure safer, more sustainable energy delivery. Let us help you plan the next steps on your ESG journey. Contact us for a free demonstration of our EpochField platform utilizing GIS technology today.
Scheduling Guide