Many pipeline industry managers and senior officials intuitively understand that location is important to most aspects related to pipelines throughout the life-cycle — from project concept, through construction and operations and finally to decommissioning. However, many organizations are not taking full advantage of location as being a vital component to support business decision-making across the entire range of activities undertaken by pipeline companies. A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a tool that takes advantage of geography. GIS is ideally suited for the storage, display, and output of geographic data, and moreover, the analysis and modeling of geographic data. While GIS has been around as a technology for over 30 years it is only in the last several years that it has started to be extensively used within the pipeline industry. Most managers have heard about GIS. Many organizations have already started to implement GIS and CAD-based solutions through individual projects and with a technical focus of automating work flows or business processes such as generating alignment sheets, regulatory compliance, integrity management, and land management to name a few. Given that many of these applications tend to be stand-alone or isolated developments, pipeline companies need to look at the complete spatial environment of all potential tools and applications, and support this with a vision of a common spatial data warehouse in a holistic sense. Any company that embraces a continuous gathering of spatial data throughout the pipeline life-cyle will have a significant knowledge base whose value will increase over time. A spatial data warehouse of truly integrated environmental, engineering and socioeconomic factors related to a pipeline during the entire lifecycle will have a total value that transcends the value of the individual factors. The Return on Investment (ROI) of a properly developed GIS framework and spatial data warehouse looking at all operational demands and support applications will certainly be many times over the original expenditure as measured in cost savings as well as better decision making. This paper will present insights and approaches into how to properly and effectively leverage the spatial data asset and in deploying GIS throughout the enterprise. These include addressing all of the elements that are key in implementing GIS — hardware, software, data, people and methods — as well as considering some of the ROI and value-based measures for GIS success.

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