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The deployment of LocatorHub has created a single point of truth for all location information so we can respond more quickly to emergencies.

Mobilising the business with a single view of location

As part of its business transformation, National Grid deployed Esri UK’s LocatorHub to create a ‘single point of truth’ for all location information in the business. This GIS-based solution gives the organisation – for the first time – consistent, accurate address information, enabling it to operate more efficiently and react more quickly to emergencies.

– Gas Distribution –


Case study – Gas Networks


The Customer

National Grid plc is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world. It delivers energy to millions of homes and businesses across Great Britain.

LocatorHub puts accurate location information at the heart of the business and is integrated into all key business applications, from CRM to SAP plant maintenance

Accurate address information helps the organisation to respond more quickly and effectively to emergencies and speed up incident investigations

Use of LocatorHub gives engineers the information they need to help them to deliver better customer service

The Challenge

For National Grid, accurately pinpointing people, properties and infrastructure is essential in order to run a safe network and deliver responsive customer service. But within its UK Gas Distribution business, maintaining reliable location information was challenging. The staff – from engineers, to customer service operatives, to asset managers – relied on a variety of systems to do their job. More challenging still, each system used different sources of address data, referenced and searched in different ways.

This gave rise to a number of problems. “Inaccuracies would often creep in across different systems,” says John Turner, Project Manager for National Grid. “Some addresses might be spelled incorrectly or recorded differently in different databases. This added time and risk to our work, which – especially for our emergency response activities – we simply couldn’t afford.”

To enhance safety, increase efficiency and boost regulatory performance, National Grid decided to tackle this problem as part of its ambitious Gas Distribution Transformation Programme. This saw the company reduce its business systems from forty to just four – one of which was a Geographic Information System (GIS) from Esri UK.

Built into this system was Esri UK’s innovative LocatorHub solution.

“ LocatorHub enables us to manage the address lifecycle, from plot all the way through to demolition. That’s absolutely fundamental to the work we do, but we would never be able to handle it on our own. The Esri system is a core part of our business

John Turner – Project Manager (Data/GIS), Transformation Programme, National Grid

The Solution

LocatorHub is a powerful location management solution. It gives utilities centralised access to any datasets, from public data such as Ordnance Survey, to their own sets of addresses, roads, network assets and vulnerable customers. This creates a ‘single point of truth’ for all location information in the business.

Importantly, the system constantly cleanses address data, correcting inaccuracies and removing duplicates. It gives every location a set of coordinates, for pinpoint accuracy. And it’s very easy to use; users can search for information using xy coordinates, standard address formats, asset addresses and includes fuzzy matching.

LocatorHub can also be embedded into applications. At National Grid, it is built into the Esri desktop and integrated into all key business applications – from the CRM system to its SAP plant maintenance application – putting reliable location information at the heart of business processes.

As soon as LocatorHub was populated, John and his team cleansed their data to ensure all records were accurate. “We verified 22 million addresses provided by Xoserve to be able to link vulnerable customer and meter information with our LocatorHub addresses. We also cleaned our asset location data, and gave xy coordinates to everything in the system, creating a highly accurate, centralised set of data for use across the business.”

“ Previously, collating information about an incident could take several weeks. But with LocatorHub, we can identify premise and job history in less than a day

John Turner – Project Manager (Data/GIS), Transformation Programme, National Grid

Benefits

National Grid has completed 1.5m jobs in the last 12 months using LocatorHub to identify properties or gas sites, and verified more than 60,000 gas site locations.

The business now has one point of reference for all activities at a site. “That includes all jobs we’ve carried out, and a full customer history. We can even centrally log details of all people related to a particular site, from landowners to occupiers and their agents.” explains John.

“This helps our engineers deliver better service. And it’s easier to get the business intelligence to make more informed strategic decisions.”

LocatorHub also helps National Grid respond quickly to emergency call-outs. As the organisation responsible for the UK-wide National Gas Emergency Service, this is businesscritical. “We are targeted by Ofgem to respond to uncontrolled leaks within 1 hour,” explains John. “This can be challenging, especially when people report smelling gas at places without an address, such as a field or a canal bank.

“LocatorHub lets our call centre team position a map to mark the xy coordinates of a potential leak. This can save our engineers minutes or even hours in locating the leak, which is vital for protecting the public.”

When it comes to incident investigation, LocatorHub offers impressive time savings. Investigation requires a lot of information – from a site’s repair history, to recent activities at nearby premises. “Previously, collating information about an incident could take several weeks. But with LocatorHub, we can identify premise and job history in less than a day,” John confirms.

Of course, address data is always changing. But now that LocatorHub is in place, National Grid has a way to manage this efficiently. “If a site doesn’t exist in our systems – perhaps it’s a new-build – LocatorHub lets us add a temporary location, so we can continue with our work until we validate it,” he says.

John believes LocatorHub will be a key part of National Grid operations for many years to come. “LocatorHub enables us to manage the address lifecycle, from plot all the way through to demolition. That’s absolutely fundamental to the work we do, but we would never be able to handle it on our own. The Esri system is a core part of our business.”

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