T&D World Magazine

Southern Company Implements ESRI's Enterprise GIS to Improve Customer Service, Cost Containment and Profitability

Southern Company has implemented ESRI's enterprise geographic information system (GIS) to enable its five operating companies -- Alabama Power, Mississippi Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, and Savannah Electric -- to improve customer service, cost containment and profitability.

"Southern Company invests in the continuing operation of existing GIS environments at its various operating companies," said David Breland, enterprise GIS (E-GIS) lead, Southern Company. "The purpose of our enterprise GIS was to consolidate resources, provide a common architecture and support structure, streamline costs, and provide better value to each operating company. Using a common, integrated approach provides a number of key benefits."

Southern Company owns five electric utilities in four states. Georgia Power, the largest of the five, serves 2 million customers located in 153 of Georgia's 159 counties. Savannah Electric serves more than 300,000 people in a five-county region of Georgia. Alabama Power, the second-largest subsidiary, serves 1.3 million homes, businesses, and industries in the southern two-thirds of Alabama. Gulf Power serves northwest Florida, with approximately 400,000 retail customers in 71 towns and communities. Mississippi Power provides electricity to 200,000 customers in 23 counties in southeast Mississippi.

Prior to the enterprise GIS approach, each of the five utilities operated and maintained an independent GIS, with adequate sharing of infrastructure and support. However, with separate GIS programs, duplicate efforts were performed for maintaining, administering, and supporting GIS across business units such as distribution, transmission, land, economic development, and marketing. Substantial cost-saving and knowledge-sharing opportunities had historically been missed.

Recognizing the need to leverage common business requirements, centralize information technology architecture, and optimize GIS investments to meet the needs of the whole organization, Southern Company established an enterprise GIS project.

Enspiria Solutions Inc., a consulting and systems integration firm based in Denver, developed an E-GIS architecture plan including hardware, software and network requirements. In addition, the company provided an implementation road map showing cost and savings estimates. The plan is a framework for management and control of the enterprisewide system used by Southern Company's five separate operating companies.

Southern Company's E-GIS solution consists of an ArcGIS platform based on ArcSDE with ArcObjects in addition to the ArcFM toolset from Miner and Miner, Consulting Engineers Inc. The architecture is a consolidated server environment. E-GIS will be the central database for distribution, transmission, and land records across the enterprise. It will also provide consistent, high-quality data to other systems.

The E-GIS project better positions Southern Company to optimize business processes and decisions as the company moves forward. Many enterprise applications that leverage ESRI technology are already under way and paying dividends including Southern Company's TransView application, which provides systemwide for all five operating companies.

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