Utility Streamlines Its Design Review Process
By Bill Meehan, Esri's Director of Electric and Water Industries
As part of a digital transformation initiative, Dubai Electric and Water Authority (DEWA) in the UAE digitized its workflows and data formats—an essential requirement for modernizing its operations. One aspect of the transformation focuses on the data exchange between the utility and contractors and consultants.
"While DEWA modernizes its services, we are deploying online GIS to better manage them," said Manal Ahmed Salem Alshamlan, DEWA's GIS transformation program lead. "ArcGIS provides a platform for project management, review, and collaboration."
Prior to DEWA's Web GIS implementation, it had used a desktop geographic information system (GIS) to generate digital maps of its grid and water network. Contractors and consultants needed those maps as a basis for designing projects. Staff loaded static digital maps onto CDs, which contractors picked up at the office. This distribution method was not convenient for firms whose working hours did not match DEWA's government hours.
Furthermore, the maps were not available to everyone. Contractors and consultants printed CD maps to paper and posted them. Design teams found sharing maps this way was inconvenient and that not everyone could access them.
Even more disconcerting were the data quality issues caused by disconnected systems, manual processes, out-of-date as-built maps, and time lags. The utility's GIS team wanted to digitally transform the entire process for managing design drawings.
DEWA's GIS team began its transformation initiative on the electric side of the business by implementing Esri's ArcGIS and Schneider Electric's ArcFM. The team dubbed the initiative Marafeq, an Arabic acronym for digitally transforming its drawing management process.
The team created an all-inclusive framework for managing the end-to-end workflow of project drawings, from project design through project execution to as-built drawing field validation. It built a series of integrated apps that manage digital drawings, automate submission processes, provide accurate basemaps for design, and validate drawing compliance. DEWA used Esri's ArcGIS Online platform to streamline workflows and improve drawing data quality.
Since the system tested well on the electric side of the business, DEWA decided to use the online platform to manage its water service. Water operations offered a bit more leeway for building and testing new apps.
The team used ArcGIS Online and the ArcGIS Enterprise portal to build web apps and a workflow to support projects and contract proposals. The workflow included apps for automating submission processes, providing accurate basemaps for design, and validating drawing compliance.
"Project managers use our map service to see the most current information and focus on areas relevant to their work," Alshamlan noted. "They can access the information on demand from any device."
DEWA posts its as-built data layers online, which is a vastly more efficient process than its old hand distribution method. Designers open maps and use them to integrate their CAD drawings with their intended location. This helps them better understand projects within the context of the network.
Using the design submission app, design engineers can quickly submit drawings. Then a quality control app automatically checks whether the drawings meet drawing standards, such as color-coding and descriptions. If a submission does not pass this review, contractors see the problems on their end and make corrections.
"ArcGIS online provides functionality that is a quantum leap away from the system we had been using," Alshamlan said. "It has made vast improvements in contractor and consultant information exchange by making as-built reporting easier, increasing data accuracy, and streamlining data exchange."
Contract engineers check their submission accuracy anytime, day or night. Since GIS generates the response, they receive instant feedback about their drawings and make changes at that time rather than waiting for DEWA's office to open. The data quality check also ensures that DEWA doesn't pay contractors for their work until GIS has given them a pass.
Approved drawings meet standards and contain accurate calculations. Accurate drawings save review time in the office. In the field, maintenance crews are less likely to have to hunt for inaccurately mapped assets.
Since the apps performed well for the water service network, the GIS team configured them for DEWA's electric grid modernization. Consultants and contractors use the system to submit drawings and bids for adding advanced metering infrastructure, solar services, a solar park, and electric vehicle charging stations to the grid.
Because DEWA digitally transformed its services, the GIS team continues to roll out applications that improve every aspect of its business and create continuity across the enterprise.