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Streamlining Mobile Data Collection to Mitigate Risk

Peoples Gas, the largest natural gas distribution company in Pennsylvania, serves approximately 740,000 customers. In 2015, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) proposed an amendment to its regulations to address safety concerns with plastic piping. To comply with the new requirements, Peoples started looking for a solution that could track and trace assets and their materials. The goal of the solution was to mitigate system risk, increase efficiency for field- and office-based operations, and enhance public safety by improving how assets are identified and located and making it easier to track down and report defective materials.

A map of utility pipelines along a road with a legend on the left side of the screen

Peoples Gas now employs a GIS-based solution to gather data about gas assets when they're installed during new construction.

Through a competitive bid process, Peoples selected RAMTeCH to support this critical initiative. Using ArcGIS Enterprise and an app built with ArcGIS Runtime SDK for .NET, the RAMTeCH team implemented a proven tracking and traceability solution that allowed staff members at Peoples to maximize their existing investment in Esri technology.

The solution automates the process of capturing location, material, and manufacturer information for new gas assets when they're installed. Mobile workers use barcode scanners and high-accuracy GPS receivers to record the data. The scanners record attribute information from barcodes on the assets, following the ASTM International F2897 Tracking and Traceability standard. And the GPS receivers capture the installed locations of distribution pipes, fittings, valves, and more--as required by the proposed PHMSA amendment. This information feeds into the iOS app that RAMTeCH built, which mobile workers use on Apple iPads. This ensures that the data gets represented in the company's GIS as features.

Since implementing the solution, Peoples has reduced the need for paper records in the field, which has streamlined both mobile and office-based workflows. This digital data collection process has eased mapping backlogs at Peoples, since field-based data collection now seamlessly integrates with the organization's enterprise GIS. The solution has also improved the use of GIS for identifying and locating pipeline components, as well as any defective materials, reducing the risks associated with gas distribution operations and improving public safety.

Source: Esri's ArcNews Winter 2023 Edition

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