For Your Information – What is GIS?

FYI_What_is_GIS

Before you turn on your tap and fill up a glass, the water coming to you has made quite a long trip. In our system, we have twenty-one wells that supply water to over 30,000 customers across 560 miles of pipe.

Likewise, when you flush the commode or take a shower, the wastewater makes a trip across part of the 337 miles of pipe in our system then makes its way to one of three wastewater treatment plants.

Keeping up with the location of these underground utilities previously involved hand drafted maps. This was both time-consuming, took up large amounts of storage space and required accurate cataloging to locate exactly what you need.

In the early 1980s, computer-aided design and drafting software, led by Autodesk’s AutoCAD, allowed utility operators and engineers to make and keep better records following installation and survey. Large amounts of data could be quickly stored on computer disk or hard drive, with space and cost becoming less and less of an issue.

By the late 1990’s geographic information system software, known as GIS, took the collection of data many steps further by allowing technicians employed by the utility to use backpack-based hardware to collect location information using the global positioning system.

The GPS handheld devices that we use now make it even easier. In the time that it would have taken a survey crew to document a single street of service locations, our GIS technicians can map out an entire neighborhood.

Pictured here is our GIS Supervisor, Michael Terrell. In the thirteen years that Michael has been working with GIS equipment, he’s worked with a range of equipment, from the backpack mounted units able to mark a point within three feet to the latest state-of-the-art handheld unit that is capable of reading down to a quarter of an inch.

What this means to you is that the BGJWSC technicians can locate buried valves, meters and mains without having to dig up large holes in search of the target.

GIS is improving the way that we supply service to you.