GeoFields User Group

Pipeline GIS and data management presentations from SoCal Gas, Kern River and ESRI.

The recent GeoFields user group conference provided a snapshot of the state of the art in pipeline software and data management. GeoFields software is used to manage some 200,000 miles of pipe—around a third of the US network. As Shaun Healy (SoCal Gas) stated, PHMSA* reporting is driving the industry in terms of technology requirements. For SoCal, this has been reflected in a defocus on the data model to greater data management with end user applications, redefining data management to support SoCal’s integrity management program.


Notwithstanding SoCal modeling defocus, GeoFields supports all ‘open’ industry models including PODS**, PODS Spatial, ESRI’s APDM and GeoFields’ own GFDM (based on PODS). A translator aggregates data across multiple dissimilar models. Data management is provided by the DataFrame and FacilitiesExplorer products while RiskFrame offers data uncertainty and results management.


Pipeline’s killer application is of course GIS and GeoFields is something of a poster child for ESRI. As John Alsup (ESRI) stated, one challenge for ESRI is that ArcGIS’ rich feature set makes it too powerful for many end users. GeoFields adds value to ESRI’s APDM enterprise spatial data model by ‘tuning’ and enhancing GIS for pipeline, creating pipeline-specific workflows that operators understand.

High Consequence Area

Al Brown provided an in-depth analysis of how GeoFields software addresses PHMSA requirements. A detailed workflow establishes steps to conformance and fulfills reporting requirements. GeoFields put 180,000 man hours into HCA development and analysis and has a terabyte database of HCA data. HCA analysis rolls-up pipeline product, topography and drainage and soil nature for impact analysis. A spill model provides data from the pipeline side (drain volume, valve closure time, product, flow) and a GIS-based overland/hydrology model adds terrain, mitigation response time impact buffers. Digital terrain models are used to visualize overland spread of spill. In view of the huge amount of pipeline mileage and the complexity of the interactions, semi-automated geoprocessing is required to prioritize efforts to high impact potential areas.

Kern River

Jeff Dickey showed how Kern River Gas Transmission Co. has perfected the art of database-derived alignment sheets generation using DataFrame to produce very complete sheets showing land ownership, pipeline class definitions, map and schematic tracks, KEG tables etc. ArcMap creates an attractive look and feel with appropriate symbology. Kern River’s sheets are ‘constantly evolving’ to fulfill field users’ increasingly sophisticated requirements and to embed the latest data maintenance functionality from GeoFrames.

* Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration—

** Pipeline Open Data Standard—

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