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Product Abstract

Monetizing the Geospatial Information System (GIS): The Value of GIS Data Quality for Electric Utilities

Product ID:1024303
Date Published:26-Nov-2012
Sector Name:Power Delivery & Utilization - Distribution & Utilization
Document Type:Technical Results
Price:No Charge

This Product is publicly available

   1.27 MB - Adobe PDF (.pdf)


The smart grid is dramatically changing the way we deliver electrical energy. What has historically been a uni-directional flow of energy from generation to customer is now increasingly paralleled with a bi-directional communication network to optimize the use and flow of electricity. However, the intelligence of the smart grid relies critically on geospatial data to represent and track the locations of numerous devices within the connectivity model of the distribution system. A GIS (Geospatial Information System) fills this role. This project used surveys and financial modeling to quantify the costs and benefits that can be expected from improvements in GIS data.  


The quality of GIS data has become increasingly important as the smart grid matures. Although conceptually understood to be a vital enabler of smart grid functionality, the true value of quality data is not widely understood. Poor quality data can be a frustration, an impediment, or even a danger to the utility and its staff. The actual cost of poor data is elusive. In contrast, the cost to improve data quality is a known quantity. Data improvement can be a lengthy and expensive undertaking so it is important to quantify the potential impacts and benefits of data improvement initiatives.


This project seeks to better understand the costs and benefits experienced by utilities due to quality GIS data.


In order to better understand current GIS data quality issues and practices, EPRI undertook surveys of member utilities during May and August 2012. The survey respondents, which included investor-owned integrated and distribution utilities, coops, and municipals, illuminated many of the current issues faced in GIS use. The project team used the results of these surveys to craft a financial model that quantifies the benefits of data improvement using standard metrics and the probabilities of achieving the desired impact.


This report identifies a variety of options and paths to data quality improvement. Technology investments, integration, and process can each yield data benefits. The decision to pursue one or more paths will be a context and resource-specific decision for each utility. Given this circumstance, realization of benefits will be incremental. However, accumulating experience, higher levels of expectation for GIS functionality, and the gradual realization of promised smart grid benefits will encourage further investment in data quality.

Applications, Values, and Use

This report is intended for GIS professionals and utility professionals who depend on accurate GIS data. The methods in this report and the associated spreadsheet may be used to justify a GIS data quality project.


Related Material
  • 1026604-GIS Data Quality Improvement Cost Benefit Analysis Spreadsheet
2012 Program 161   Information and Communication Technology
  • Cost Benefit Analysis
  • GIS
  • Geographic information system (GIS)
  • Geospatial Information System (GIS)

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