New Mexico Utility Modernizes GIS by Consolidating to One GDB, Deploying Mobile Maps and More!
The need: In 2016, SSP completed an Enterprise GIS implementation for Zia Natural Gas in Hobbs, New Mexico. The project included one week onsite time for not only the “Heavy lifting,” but also instruction of two technicians, Teresa Neal and Jennifer Tovar.
The background: There are two gas divisions underneath Natural Gas Processing: Zia Natural Gas and Wyoming Gas. Zia Natural Gas has seven separate systems. Three of the systems are grouped together (Hobbs, Jal, and Malaga) under Hobbs. There is also a system in Las Cruces, New Mexico; Northeast New Mexico (Springer, Maxwell, Cimarron, and Raton areas); Ruidoso; and the state of Wyoming (Worland and Byron areas). Three of Zia's systems have transmission. Zia has approximately 33,000 meters combined in all systems.
Before this project, Zia Natural Gas's initial data model was "crude." Due to the time required to do it, the initial conversion from AutoCAD to the geodatabases was outsourced. A third-party consultant had recommended a migration to the standard Esri gas utility model for Zia. The same consultant also recommended that Zia maintain the GIS as seven separate File Geodatabases (FGDBs). There was a FGDB for each system. This was due to lack of a dedicated server, the requirement of different coordinate systems, and their current ArcGIS license level.
In addition, Zia's data was maintained in separate coordinate systems. Why was that?
“We maintained our data in three different coordinate systems to include three regions," Zia's Teresa Neal said. "This was due to the territory size and being in separate states/zones."
Teresa and her coworker Jennifer Tovar could not edit data at the same time, though, she says, "It usually worked out okay."
"If we communicated," Jennifer said.
“We worked off my hard drive, which acted as our server," Teresa said. "If my machine locked up for some reason, poor Jennifer would be kicked out when I restarted. We truly wanted the Enterprise database which would allow multiple editors at the same time. We were having trouble getting the edits from the field from the technicians of the different systems. We were wanting to get the maps readily available for all of Natural Gas Processing.”
Jennifer and Teresa realized that the tasks required for an enterprise GIS implementation went beyond their capabilities, so they began looking for a provider. At GeoConX, they talked to as many people as they could in order to find someone to help us with this project. Teresa talked to SSP directly, and she also heard good feedback from existing SSP clients "that had good things to say about you guys."
"We kept a binder," Teresa said. "At one time, we were talking to five different companies.“
"There were three things that were pointing to SSP," Jennifer said. "We presented our recommendations, and you guys were on top.”
Teresa adds that SSP spoke to herself and Jennifer in a way that made sense. “Let me say that we understood what you guys were saying to us," Teresa said. "There were a couple of consultants that were talking so far over our heads. We were like … I have no idea what you are talking about.”
What the Enterprise GIS Implementation Included
SSP created Zia's enterprise GDB by combining all of their system FGDBs. The database was accessed via Esri’s ArcGIS Online for mapping. SSP taught Zia to use Collector for feature edits, among other trainings. One of the biggest challenges, Teresa and Jennifer say, was learning to connect the SQL Server database to the GIS.
"Understanding all the steps was very confusing," Jennifer said.
To get the single GDB, SSP had to reconcile three projection systems that were used in the seven FGDBs. To do so, SSP and Zia reprojected everything to UTM Zone 13, because the vast majority of Zia's system is contained within that zone. There was a small portion of Wyoming that was outside this zone.
To get their landbase data, Zia purchased the parcel polygon and other layers from individual counties. They also utilized the basemaps supplied by ArcGIS Online.
The GIS Today at Zia
Just six months after the enterprise GIS implementation, Zia is using Collector for ArcGIS offline to get edits back from the field. They are exploring how to hyperlink scanned construction maps, so users in the field can click on a line and have the construction map appear on screen. Today, they say they love the new GDB.
"The ease of it now is great," Jennifer said.