Quick Take: For many years, GE has operated with its own proprietary GIS system called Smallworld. Now, as GE reorients itself as an Internet of Things software company, it is providing a bridge between Smallworld and Google Maps. For users, it means simpler ways to visualize data with Google's (relatively) easy to use tools and its ability to display maps on computers, tablets and smart phones. For GE, it means a foray outside its own walled garden to the open world of the Internet.
If GE can combine its powerful solutions and deep domain expertise with the ease and accessibility of the open world, it should be able to shed its old-school image and establish itself as one of the new-school leaders. - Jesse Berst
GE is bringing Google Maps data into its Smallworld electrical, telecommunications and gas applications. While GE now provides geospatial analytical tools, the agreement with Google will yield a combined solution that enhances existing network visualization capabilities.
And those enhanced capabilities mean utilities can get incremental efficiency data and information on the productivity of field operations. Also, it means utilities can get important communications to customers quickly, such as outage restoration times.
GE's Smallworld geospatial tools design and model complex network infrastructures and support asset lifecycle management and provide solutions for companies with complicated network asset management problems. The agreement with Google offers those solutions for a variety of applications, such as business intelligence, engineering, Web clients, schematics, corridor management and enterprise gateway.
GE and Google are counting on the familiarity of Google Maps. "Millions of people are already familiar with Google Maps as seen on their computer screens in the office or on mobile devices in the field. Now we're able to bring that familiarity to our Smallworld products so that our customers can use a platform that's completely customized for their assets and networks," said Bryan Friehauf, product line leader-software solutions for GE's Digital Energy business.
Also, Google's rich mapping content will be integrated into the set of GE's small focused applications for the Web, desktops and mobile devices. GE's Distribution Management Systems and Outage Management Systems also will use Google mapping content in operational control of networks. For field operators, GE will incorporate Google's Android platform to add to its selection of mobile products. The companies said that new portable solution will give field users better contextual information.
Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.
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