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Pike Research forecasts annual utility spending on GIS technologies will hit $3.7 billion by 2017

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Monday, April 02, 2012

The growing use of spatial data in electric utilities is expected to contribute to increased spending in GIS tools and services in the next five years, according to recent research from Pike.

A modernized smart grid will need a strong situational understanding of power generation, transmission, distribution and customer assets if the full benefits of the smart grid are to be noticed. Land-based and street-level data, ownership/real estate, vegetation, network topology, GPS location data, census data and other geospatial information are all expected to be crucial for a successful smart grid deployment.

The geographic information system (GIS) is currently being used to link all utility activities, such as design and construction, asset management, outage management and real-time grid operations. As more utilities put smart grid technologies into action, more attention is being paid to GIS and similar systems. New findings from Pike Research suggest GIS services, software and tools could reach $3.7 billion in investments by 2017.

"The smart grid has energized electric utilities to think creatively about how to improve the delivery of electrical power and the business and workflow processes that enable it," Pike vice president Bob Gohn stated. "As the deployment of intelligent field equipment, particularly advanced metering infrastructure, has surged, the applications leveraging this infrastructure are increasingly dependent on GIS-based data for critical real-time performance."

In today's power industry, there are eight core GIS-related utility applications either in use or nearing commercial deployment, which fit into three different categories. The first includes those that have already been adopted by large North American utilities, while the second involves applications that are expected to see large scale adoption in the next few years. This includes asset, mobile workforce and outage management.

The third category includes emergent GIS-integrated tools, which include advanced distribution management and metering infrastructure. These installations are expected to create challenges in the electric industry, as they will involve high-quality - and high-complexity - data.

The Pike report delves into the demand drivers and technologies that will be linked to widespread GIS use, as well as key industry players that could impact the sector through 2017.

Utilities looking to deploy smart grid technologies, such as substation automation, can benefit from SUBNET's Unified Asset Monitoring Information, which helps drive system analytics from data collected at substations and keep tabs on system and equipment health. 

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