Geographic Information Council (WAGIC)

April 19, 2001

Teleconference originating from

DIS Interactive Technologies, Seattle, WA


Introductions – Ian Von Essen, WAGIC Chair – From Seattle, Ian opened the meeting and welcomed council members in Seattle, Bellingham, Tri-Cities, Vancouver, Ellensburg, Spokane and Lacey.


Meeting Theme: GIS in support of Utilities


WA State Utilities and Transportation Commission – David Cullom

The Utilities and Transportation Commission, relating to statewide pipeline mapping and GIS, currently has map archives dating back to the 1950’s.  The archives have recently been organized and UTC has started bringing much of the gas services area maps into the GIS.  The original paper maps show increasing signs of age and need to be converted to digital format before they are unusable.  The following are work plan objectives for developing the GIS system:

-         Support local government first responders by providing information on pipeline locations within their jurisdictions. Consult with emergency management personnel as to information they require.

-         Support and educate the pipeline operators in proper production and conversion of spatial data from hardcopy drawings and CAD.  Some pipeline companies have substantial systems and capabilities regarding GIS, but others are still using hardcopy maps and CAD based systems that need some fine-tuning.

-         Support the federal DOT National Pipeline Mapping System.

-         Improve public safety by increasing effectiveness of risk assessment analysis.

-         Establish an internal spatial data warehouse so commission staff can access and process data.  Engineers can use data internally on the local Internet when they need to update pipeline information.

-         Enhance consumer protection by providing appropriate Internet access to pipeline location data. 

-         Develop a structured field data collection system for commissioned inspectors. 

-         Preserve environmental quality by analyzing relationships between sensitive habitats and areas of pipeline influence. 

-         Data collection – RCW legislation requires that information be collected on all natural gas and hazardous liquid transmission lines and mains operating at a pressure at or higher than 250 psig.  In areas where there is no digital pipeline information available, a variety of methods are being used to collect data.

-         Partnerships – The commission will use data provided through existing data sharing agreements to check existing pipeline data sets and to enter in new pipeline information.  Cooperation from agencies that have existing GIS information is vital in order to stay compatible with current systems.


A question was raised as to what accuracy requirements are in place.  UTC IS striving to stay within the national map accuracy standards for rural areas.  This translates to plus or minus 40 feet on the horizontal at a scale of 1/24,000.  In urban areas, they are striving for an accuracy of approximately 2 meters on the horizontal.  In cases where there is no other choice, they’ll be accepting and using data at plus or minus 40 feet at 1/24,000.  The RCW also states that in areas where the location of depth is known, they will include an indoor system, so that is being done as well.


Currently the pipeline companies are required to submit any maps or records to standards set by the commission.  Mr. Cullom is currently in the process of setting the standards.  They have a fair amount of pipeline data already provided by the pipeline companies.  He is verifying some of that data in the field, but there are gaps.  If they are small, he tries to fill them.  If they are larger gaps, he’s asking the pipeline companies to do a resubmission. 


Spokane County – John Bottelli, GIS Specialist   

Spokane County is pursuing similar goals as the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission, at the local level.  They are trying to improve the accuracy of the existing pipeline data sets. 


There are several people involved at the local level of this project, including Spokane County and the City of Spokane.  There are four major pipeline companies that include: Yellowstone pipeline (Conico), Chevron pipeline, the Williams Gas Pipeline Company and Pacific Gas and Electric.  They’re also cooperating with Avista Utilities and local emergency management officials as well as the Inland Empire Fire Chiefs Association.


The overreaching goal of this project is to improve the quality of their GIS data.  They would like to identify the locations of the pipelines in the urbanized area of Spokane County.  They hope that this data set will support public safety efforts.  They have specific goals to integrate the data set with their local emergency management system.  A better quality data set will support their land use permits and planning processes. 


There is an existing pipeline layer in Spokane County that was originally developed in 1996 under their long range-planning program.  Crude documents statewide and even national maps that were plotted on 8 ˝”x11” sheets of paper were captured into the GIS for the purpose of giving a general depiction of the location of utilities infrastructure in Spokane County.  Obviously they were hesitant to overlay that data over any small-scale data.  They were limited to producing a 1/100,000 scale map of Spokane County that was used for planning purposes.  They have looked into what new data sources will be available in pursuit of this goal.  The data sources include pipeline company GIS data, AutoCAD data, and possibly some private sector engineering data.  There is also some online GIS data available through the National Pipeline Mapping System. An ideal method is GPS field data collection and that is something they are discussing and hopefully will do some of in Spokane County.


The procedure for this project was to contact all the pipeline companies and receive any digital data that they have, which has been done.  The next step is to plot detailed maps showing the locations of pipeline data, along with Spokane County base layers, and give the maps back to the pipeline companies to ask them to characterize their accuracy.  Finally, they will work with each company to determine the best course of action to determine the accuracy of the GIS pipeline data in Spokane County.  When they have a good data set, they will integrate the improved data with the local emergency management system.


Avista Utilities – Curtis Kirkeby

Avista started in 1978 to build their GIS system.  By 1984 they determined that they needed to be in the GIS market.  They selected ESRI software, primarily because of its capability to use digital ortho data.  They use an ortho for their primary land base and try to augment with parcel information, but it doesn’t always line up.  They utilize street centerlines heavily. 


They have deployed the following solutions to date:

-         Design and editing tool for electric and gas that is integrated to the systems that they use daily to complete business processes (Work Management, Customer Service, and Major Equipment Tracking Systems)

-         Outage Management, which is tied to Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

-         Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), which is used in their transmission level system for electric.  This allows them to control devices (open and closed breakers) to see how much energy is flowing through a point or to just look at the status of a particular breaker.

-         DOT Gas Compliance, where they keep track of their leak survey, valve maintenance, rake station maintenance, and make sure that they stay within compliance on the regulations and maintenance cycles that they have.

-         Ability to inventory both joint use and straight light contacts

-         Canvas marketing, where they add gas pipe, then try to get as many people as they can to attach to that line in order to get the best return on the investment and maximize utilization of the right of way.


This data resides in different systems, but all ties together.  Since Avista is an ESRI customer, they are utilizing the SDE technology and the ARC 8 GIS desktop tools.  In this system, an object has parameters and methods, or properties of itself.  Different components make up the object, and everything is known about it.   This enables the user to select an object and place it out on the map, without having to list all of the components of the object each and every time.  It also knows the rules of where an object can or cannot go.


Another integration point is through work management.  If a customer called and wanted gas or electric service, they would first look to see if it was possible to serve them.  They would then create a work management job that allows them to manage the design and construction of that facility.  Through the GIS system, they can do the design or, if called for, a map edit can be done.


Many other processes have also been streamlined, and they have a great system for managing these processes. 


The question was raised as to whether this system has been integrated throughout Avista or if it was in some stage of beta testing.  Mr. Kirkeby answered that there are ARC 7 production applications for gas at this time.  ARC 8 applications are complete, have been beta tested and a field inventory of all of their electric systems is being done at this time.  They’ve received 195 feeders out of 360 and the remainder of the feeders are smaller.  The projection is that all of the feeders will be in place by the end of the year and all of the applications will be deployed prior to that.  Outage will be available some time in the late 2nd/early 3rd quarter, and the design tool at the end of the 3rd quarter.  There are people currently on the system who are editing data and verifying the data quality.


Someone asked if they have looked at what the present costs are with the current system and if another look will be taken after the implementation to see what the cost benefit is.  Mr. Kirkeby said that they are trying to quantify each of the changes in process and what it will do.  They have also set up statistical types of things to show that it is actually occurring. 


Pacific Salmon Information Network (PSIN): Update – Gene Thorley

Mr. Thorley explained that the PSIN is another example of a self-organized process, which is focused on improving communication, information sharing, data sharing, as well as the use of information technology in support of salmon restoration.  PSIN petitioned WAGIC to sponsor a one-time use of the videoconferencing capability to see whether it would assist in their communication process.  Their network encompasses the entire habitat range of Pacific salmon, which covers California, Idaho, Canada and Alaska.


There have been 8 PSIN meetings so far, at a frequency of once every two months.  The meetings usually last about 3 ˝ hours.  At the meeting on April 5th, they used the videoconferencing system and linked into Ellensburg, Vancouver and Lacey from the Seattle site.  They had roughly 20 to 25 people who participated in the meeting, who broke up into three regions: Southwest Washington/Oregon, Northwest Washington and Eastern Washington.  Each region hosted a 30 to 40-minute session.


SWIM Coordinator, Lynn Singleton gave an update on his activities.  There was a briefing on activities that were a follow-up to the Port Ludlow conference.  There was also an update from their sub-element on decision support systems. 


They discussed wording that could be inserted in contracts, MOUs and agreements, which would enhance data collection, data standards use and data sharing.  Most of the data that is used by the salmon restoration effort is spatially related.  They have information in data sharing, clearing houses and in this case information technologies like GIS.  By leveraging these types of coordination efforts through support like this, WAGIC is essentially leveraging its own objectives.  Their next meeting is scheduled for May 24th.


Mr. Thorley was very appreciative and thankful for the sponsorship that WAGIC extended.



LandSat 7 Data Consortium: Update – Jeff Holm

Jeff started by saying there are currently eight state agencies, one federal partner and the recent addition of Spokane County and their partner WSU, as participants in the pilot project for the Washington State Remote Sensing Data Consortium.  The pilot project is initially focusing on the acquisition of statewide coverage of LandSat 7 data from 2000.  EROS Data Center in Sioux Falls has been working in conjunction with them on a partnership agreement to support the Washington Consortium efforts.  So far the discussion has gone very well, except that EROS was asked to provide some value added processing to the initial data purchase, namely the terrain correction and unfortunately this request is tied up in an internal policy review.


EROS does not expect to have a decision until mid summer and that does not fit the time line for data acquisitions.  The consortium is now exploring other options for both the data and the value added processing.  One prospect is Radar Sat out of Vancouver, BC. They are an EROS data distributor with processing capabilities that would allow them to do the terrain correction on a very price competitive basis.  In the private sector, they’ve been quoted from $500 to $1,000 per scene for terrain correction, which essentially more than doubles the price for the cost of the scene.  Radar Sat can provide that service for less than $250 per scene.  The technical team is looking closely at the product that they are proposing; to be sure that it meets their needs.  There should be a preliminary judgement by the end of this week.  Once they get that data in hand, they can have it available to consortium members to start working with. 


The consortia team will be meeting biweekly for the next several months to work on the next set of tasks, including responding to several grant opportunities.  The consortia agreed that they would make some money available to involve a vendor in helping to respond to three grant opportunities.  They will be working on the phase II part of the implementation for the data consortium with a focus on value added data products that the consortia created from its initial data acquisition.


Ellensburg Meeting Bi-annual Review of Strategic Plan – Jeff Holm

25 to 26 people representing various organizations attended the planning session on March 29th.  The approach was to focus on how things have changed in individual work environments since the last time they put a strategic plan together. They broke into three workgroups and gave people a chance to provide input around discussion questions.  At the end of the day, the groups were offering up information in changes in their environment, potential impacts of council activities and even some potential responses.  The intent wasn’t to get the solutions, but to start the discussion.  A large number of the people agreed to participate in further discussions, so the ad hoc planning committee will meet three times between the March 29th and the June 14th meeting.  They will come up with a set of recommendations on modifications to strategic plan and will present that information at the next council meeting.


Confirming Chair for Second Term

Mr. Holm expressed that the current Chair’s term comes to a close at the next meeting on June 14th.  Mr. Von Essen is willing to continue on for another term.  His hands on approach to the organization, particularly theme-based meetings, has been wonderful and has drawn participation from more groups.  Council has the opportunity to do two things: make a motion to the council to re elect the chair for a second term, or go through a candidate nomination process and a fax based vote.  Mr. Holm asked if the motion were placed on the table to re elect the chair for the second term, would any voting members care to discuss it before it was done. There was no discussion, so he made the motion that the current chair be re elected for a second term.  Thurston GeoData Center seconded the motion.  There were no other questions or comments.  Jeff polled the sites and there were no objections.  The vote was called and there were none opposed.  The motion carried electing Mr. Von Essen as chair for another year.



Closing Site Roundtable – Ian Von Essen

Gene Thorley noted that the federal government is being downsized and that is reflected in the reduction of the USGS annual budget by 10-15%.  He also stated that they are well on their way to instituting a Northwest Geographic Science Center, which covers Washington, Oregon and Idaho.


Snohomish County PUD finally got approval to improve their GIS product that is used internally and are in the process of getting aerial photography for a service area in the county that is about 1,000 square miles.  They will use this for the background for their general GIS use.  Some cities may share the cost.


Spokane County is also doing an update of their ortho photography with Avista and the city, which will be a big benefit to many business functions.  They are gearing up to migrate their existing access based map objects desktop application to an ARC IMS based browser enabled version.  The trajectory is to migrate that to an Internet application.


Jeff Holm stated that DIS is in the process of looking at some key policy that relates to information technology, including but not limited to GIS.  It is providing him with the opportunity to find appropriate ways to get GIS technology reflected in the states approach to IT portfolio management.


Andrew Kenny: The Thurston GeoData Center will be hiring three new staff members.  This will enable them to integrate a new permit tracking system using the AMANDA program.  This will also allow them to automate their emergency operation center so that they can better respond to emergencies.


George Spencer from Washington DOT reported that they are updating their linear referencing system, which is the base layer for the state highways.  They are collecting GPS data for that purpose.  They are also developing an emergency response tracking system and are finally able to bring in ARC SDE.  Another project in the works is coordinating the transportation framework efforts.  They are also starting an ARC IMS evaluation.


The Department of Natural Resources is interviewing to fill Larry Sugerbaker’s position and hopes to choose someone by the end of the month.  DNR is involved actively in all of the framework activities.  They are involved with ESRI to build some spatial editing tools that will help do a better job at data integration.


The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 p.m.

Next meeting – June 14th at 10:00 a.m.