T&D World Magazine

Utilities Using Mobile GIS for Vegetation Management

Every year utility companies survey thousands of miles of lines identifying locations where trees and other vegetation need to be trimmed to avoid potential fires and other hazards. State laws require vegetation clearance to comply with safety codes and inspections. Vegetation management crews then follow a procedure to notify residents and clear the lines of overgrowth where needed. Many companies use GIS databases to plot their surveys, send out notifications and schedule crews in the field. All-in-one mobile GIS devices provide a unique, cost-saving alternative to traditional vegetation survey mapping.

Using a simple point-and-shoot procedure already being used to measure utility pole attachments, a vegetation management crew can quickly locate, measure and document sites where trees and other vegetation need to be trimmed. Data can be transferred digitally to a GIS mapping system along with photo documentation, addresses, descriptions and classifications for further processing and equipment scheduling.

In the case of ikeGPS mobile GIS systems, a one-man crew can record not only site locations, data and photo documentation but also make measurements from photos. An onboard vegetation management application allows the operator to record a high resolution photo, de-skew to create a TrueSize image, and make direct measurements of wire clearance and tree dimensions. Violations of vegetation ordinances can be documented quickly and easily, saving considerable time and expense in data acquisition and post processing.

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