7 Reasons Utilities Trust Us with Their Network Models – #4 Advanced Version Management

Version control and management can be a headache, especially for utility network operators. When you consider all of the different points of asset data in flux across a utility network, keeping it all straight and up-to-date can be complicated and messy. However, the need for advanced version management with a specific focus on utility networks might not be native or supported by traditional commercial-off-the-shelf geographical information systems. In the work order and network asset mix, adequate version management keeps operations efficient and running smoothly. Anything less could lead to confusion and frustration between engineers, field crews, and any personnel involved monitoring and managing the network – negatively effecting operations.

In this blog series, I’m looking at the seven reasons utility providers trust Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure with their network models. In my last post, I discussed how the application and IT architecture of our utility network solutions are design for optimal performance and scalability. For this installment, I’ll look at the advance version management capabilities of our utility solutions. Let’s get started.

Sophisticated, Yet Simple Work Order Management
Many GIS systems that try to support the utility industry do not realize that the engineer or designer always work in the context of a job. This requires some type of version management. Many systems have made this overly complex by creating copies and often locking features. Our version management system is sophisticated but very simple. When we look at the database, we add one additional table, that’s it. There is no compression or complex tuning needed. When data is posted, it is immediately available to all users in the current session. Work order management, whether data is proposed and private or posted at interval, can follow the business practice of the organization. If you want to keep the job open 30 days or 3 years, you can without prohibiting other operations in the system.

Supports Work Order and System Data for Long-term Transactions
The key to database technology is the idea of long-term transactions. This is the ability to design new facilities or propose edits to existing data in a protected environment. A designer can take several hours, days, or weeks to work on the design and those changes need to be separate from those of other engineers. Additionally, this design shouldn’t modify the view of the “master” or permanent data store.  When the user first connects to the network, they will only see the master data. To see proposed work, the user would attach one or more jobs or work orders. These jobs change the view of the data retrieved from the database. All data, master and job, is stored in the database. The access to the data is controlled by Oracle views over the database tables. A user can view multiple jobs at one time and make edits to the primary job. The posting of data, making additions and changes part of the permanent model, is done through a single database procedure. Long-term transactions are implemented by using standard database technology. With the job data in the database, enterprise reports can be easily written against the database views and the context changed to report on only master data or any combination of master and job data. The views always return a single instance of the data. Finally, users have hierarchical jobs, the splitting of jobs into multiple jobs and seeing job-on-job.

Automatic Conflict Detection and User Notifications
Since no data is locked, there is a need to identify any conflicts. As described above, job data masks the modified master data so that the user only sees the working context of that job. Job data can represent new assets, changes to existing assets, or removal of existing assets. A conflict can occur any time an edit (or delete) is proposed at a point in time that occurred before the active posted master data. The conflict could be graphical or based on attribute edits. A job may contain hundreds of transactions and no conflicts. Conflict detection is inherent in the posting package. Users must reconcile the conflict before posting. The data remains in the job until resolved or that job is discarded.Function versions of our solution will focus on automatic conflict detection which will notify users of potential conflicts before they occur.

If you would like to know more about the advanced version management capabilities of our utility network management solutions, contact me. Or visit our utility products page. Tune in next week, where I will discuss system reliability.

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