Utility services such as Electricity, Water, Waste and Telecommunications all depend on a geospatial data system to efficiently monitor and deliver their services. Having a responsive GIS system to strategically streamline efforts can create operational efficiency and better service delivery to customers. GPC has assisted several utility companies streamline their services with advanced GIS technology.
Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) of Bahrain
The GPC Group lead the consultancy and program management support for EWA during the period 2004-2006 in relation to the enterprise GIS program development. This was done in collaboration with our partner GEOMATEC at that time that was under the stewardship of the Center of Research at Bahrain. The consultant team joined as a strategic partner to the utility company and provided its support in the development of a state-of-the art modern enterprise GIS capacity fully integrated with day-to-day operations and supporting various levels of decision making across multiple disciplines in the organization. The project comprised the following components:
- Support for EWA in preparing an RFP for implementing an enterprise GIS solution:
The GPC management worked with the client representatives to expedite the preparations of the GIS technical specifications that were under preparation by five departments in the authority (ministry at that time that was going through an organization restructuring process) i.e. electric distribution, electric transmission, water distribution, water transmission and customer services). This culminated into a comprehensive RFP that was reviewed and validated with key stakeholders from all the concerned departments at EWA before going into an open bidding process.
- Preparing for and conducting a senior executive GIS seminar: The GPC team prepared for and conducted a comprehensive full day GIS orientation seminar in collaboration with GEOMATEC that was attended by more than 60 representatives from across the various disciplines and departments in the organization in addition to executive management and project sponsor. The seminar, which was well received by all the participants, positioned the importance of the GIS project as a foundation and strategic pillar in the drive by EWA to offer value added services to its customers. It served also to communicate the vision, mission and goals behind the project and galvanized the support required from all the stakeholders to make it a success. The seminar served also as a means to open and sustain a two-way communication channel between the project management team and the key end users in EWA.
- Finalizing the RFP and supporting the bid solicitation process: The GPC management team supported the client in finalizing the RFP including technical and commercial terms and accompanied the client through the entire bid solicitation process including supporting clarification meetings and questions and answers, etc. In addition, it prepared the criteria for the bid evaluation process and supported the client in the bid evaluation process and the preparation of the final evaluation report with recommendations. It should be noted that the GPC team supported the evaluation team configuration of the client representatives who participated in the evaluation process in such a way that the interests and perspectives of all key stakeholders were reflected in the evaluation process which comprised five international bidders.
- Management support for the client in the project supervision: Upon the award of the contract with the implementer, the GPC team provided support to the client in supervising the implementation and performing audits on major junctures throughout the entire project lifecycle. This activity which comprised on-site and off-site support was very valuable to the client since it gave strategic guidance and consultation support on international sound practices that GPC brought with its wealth and breadth of GIS utility experience to direct the optimal implementation process by the contractor. GPC prepared also performance reports and presented work-in-progress to project executive sponsor and top management in the organization who were pursuing the major developments in the project.
- GIS organizational and human capacity building: Towards the end of the implementation project by the contractor, the GPC team supported the client in expediting the organizational and human capacity building of the GIS Center. This comprised the following activities: supporting the preparation of the job descriptions for the GIS Center based on a comprehensive operations plan and the experience of the GPC team in building enterprise GIS capacity in other utilities, interviewing internal and external staff who showed interest to join the GIS Center and providing recommendations that went into the appraisals applications and last but not least recommending training and professional development programs, particularly for the internally recruited staff, to be ready to tackle their new roles and responsibilities.
- Leading the preparation for and oversight of a comprehensive field survey project: After kick-starting the enterprise GIS project implementation in 2005, and as per the recommendations by GPC, EWA management initiated the preparations for conducting an enterprise field survey project. This was driven by the fact that there was lack of confidence by EWA management in the spatial data in terms of how reliably it reflected the as-built situation on the ground. The decision was to contract GOMATEC and GPC to develop the technical specifications and RFP, support the bidding process and oversee the implementation with the contractor(s). This project, which was carried out during the period 2005-2006 resulted in shortlisting three contractors who were allocated different areas of Bahrain that were split by design reflecting the priorities by EWA, the network density and population density in those areas. The project, which was challenging due to the nature of soil with shallow water tables and the rigorous quality control and change management processes that were needed to put be in place, contributed to the development of a more reliable and sustainable geospatial information infrastructure at EWA.
- Advising on the introduction of sound field survey and data management practices at EWA: In parallel to the field survey data capture project by the contractor(s) to enhance the legacy data related to existing network assets, the EWA decided to streamline the operating model and standard operating procedures to ensure that new Geospatial data transactions are compliant with innovative international sound governance practices in a way to sustain information on network assets and preserve the investments in Geospatial infrastructure by the organization. Following that, the GPC management team advised GEOMATEC who was acting in the capacity of an operational strategic partner to EWA on geospatial matters to setup and execute operationally the following:
- Expedite the preparation of geospatial data submittal standards/ specifications and conduct an orientation workshop for more than 60 contractors and consultants at EWA informing them of the new strategic direction by the organization using the enterprise GIS platform; this comprised also the compliance by the contractors and consultants in their projects’ submittals to the new GIS/CAD submittal standards followed by EWA
- Develop a mechanism/ operating model whereby GEOMATEC sends teams of certified/ qualified surveyors to inspect the routes of the on-going utility infrastructure as part of the daily projects transactions by EWA (thousands of major and minor projects annually spanning the entire network including cables, pipelines, house connections, etc.) including activities managed by internal staff as well as by contractors. The objective is to ensure that as-built submittals are captured to an adequate level of spatial accuracy using total stations and GPS equipment and reflecting the current situation on the ground
- Develop a comprehensive data review and validation process with rigorous quality control and business rules validation using manual and automated tools and methods with visual inspection where applicable
- Recruit and train relatively freshly graduated local nationals to conduct data editing activities and data backlog management through a process of on-the-job training and capacity building to support the data maintenance at EWA
- Providing advice to EWA on selective projects/initiatives of enterprise nature: The EWA was implementing, in parallel to the GIS project, several important enterprise initiatives including, but not limited to: business process reengineering, customer relationship management, outage management system, business performance management and others. The GPC management team provided surgical advice to EWA management on how the enterprise GIS project would align with those remaining initiatives as part of a systemic and holistic view of the value chain in the utility sector. The intent was to optimize the investment by the utility and maximize utilization by the end users of the enterprise business solutions to support day-day operations and decisions making.