Process Devised For Monitoring Leak Threats Using GIS

Distribution Integrity Management Rule
By James Stout, UGI Utilities, Inc., and Tony Sileo, Opvantek, Inc. | February 2009 Vol. 236 No. 2

In addition to the data that was being collected, crews now capture the following additional information:
Political subdivision (one click based on spatial location).
Leaking facility, including valves or services (not just mains). The suspected facility is selected by field user for open leaks and the actual facility is confirmed by the repair crew.
Geometry created to display leak/repair/inspection to all GIS users.
Leak-reading values.
Sketch captured as mini CAD drawing.

The new system stores all leak and repair data in our enterprise RDBMS (Oracle). Records are linked to the geographic location in our enterprise GIS (Smallworld), and sent out to all mobile users the next day. Field sketches are converted to PDF and stored in the Document Management System (Documentum). The sketches are available to all users whether using the mobile system or in the office.

During the upgrade, legacy paper documents were scanned and associated with the applicable leak or repair location. Some of the important challenges we had to overcome are listed in Table 1.

Risk Score Distribution

Challenges UGI Had To Overcome In Re-Engineering The Leak Data Capture Process

A process had to be developed to scan the legacy paper documents and properly associate them with the new digital records.

  • We were lucky that the old process used people reviewing the leak and repair reports to determine a Main ID. This was keyed in and available digitally for conversion.
  • We elected to manually review “active” leaks and have a GIS technician place geometry based on the paper document.
  • Repair geometries were automatically placed at the midpoint of the indicated main id. Engineers contemplating repair/replace can review the documents associated with the repairs and correct the positions if needed.

Facility locations from legacy base maps are not aligned with true GPS locations.

  • We don’t try to capture leak locations using GPS for this reason.
  • The mobile units have GPS merely to get the person “close” to the right place.

Some pipes have been retired and are no longer present in the current database.

  • We were lucky that records were retained for retired pipe.
  • This was an issue for us because retired pipe was given a different Main ID as it was retired, but the new pipe got the main ID of the pipe it replaced. The new system accommodates this by having a unique identifier assigned by the system for each pipe segment. The main ID fields can be anything and not break the database integrity.


Leveraging Data And Software For DIMP

We now have an integrated system for tracking the discovery, re-inspection and repair of leaks as well as tracking exposed pipe inspections. While all this re-engineering was going on, we also updated our main replacement prioritization software (Optimain® DS).