SAN FRANCISCO, June 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Riding co-pilot with Pacific Gas and Electric Company's (PG&E) gas construction crews this summer will be 400 of the latest ruggedized laptops that provide access to detailed utility maps, a critical tool during emergencies. Touch-screen access to layers of digital maps provides a detailed matrix of streets and PGE's gas and electric lines to show crews where to shut off gas, make pipeline repairs or warn which lines to steer clear of, all without having to rely on paper records. The maps, powered by military-grade, drop-tested laptops, are updated daily and pushed to each laptop in the field to keep gas crews up to date with the latest information.
Not only does access to the latest maps help improve response times, it supports collaboration and information sharing among multiple teams across PG&E's 70,000 square miles of service area in Northern and Central California.
"With the aid of a touch screen, gas crews can mark-up maps with comments or questions and send a screenshot to our gas control center," said Sumeet Singh, senior director of asset knowledge management for PG&E. "This way, our crews and our teams back in the control center can work off the same map, with the same information and coordinate in real-time about the best way to safely shut off gas or make the necessary repairs to our lines."
Currently, PG&E has about 250 mobile devices for gas construction crews deployed throughout the service area, with the remaining 150 devices scheduled to be in place by the end of June.This latest phase of PG&E's mobile technology upgrade, funded by PG&E shareholders, was another important step in the utility's efforts to eliminate its dependence on paper records and maps, which can quickly become outdated. "When you're responding to a gas leak or an emergency situation, you need immediate access to data," said Bill Russo, PG&E gas supervisor in San Francisco. "When it comes to public safety, every second counts." Since 2010, PG&E has made a number of enhancements to ensure the safe and reliable operation of its gas system, including:
- Outfitting gas leak survey and locate and mark crews with tablets that let them easily input data and readily access it electronically
- Digitizing an archive of more than 3.7 million PG&E gas transmission pipeline records
- Investing in laser-scanning technology that creates a 3-D composite of pipes to detect any potential safety concerns
- Building a state-of-the-art gas transmission and distribution control center in San Ramon, Calif., due to open in 2013
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