What is GIS?
Ziptility is purpose-built software for utilities. Map assets, complete locates, work orders, customer requests, and maintenance with a single solution.
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A Geographic Information System (GIS Software) is designed to store, retrieve, manage, display, and analyze all types of geographic and spatial data. GIS software helps users visualize physical things from the real world that are represented by shapes, symbols, icons lines, colors, polygons and other graphic displays on maps. Having an accurate GIS map is critical for effective utility management, and helps busy utility operators visualize their distribution systems (like potable water), collection systems (sewer systems) or their transmissions systems for electric or gas utilities.
Ziptility is the best online mapping software, not because it's the most powerful but because it's the most practical. It's the best free mapping software because it's software that actually gets used. Utility crews love using Ziptility because of the easy to use features, like it's mobile asset management capability.
Seeing something on a gis map, isn't as important as knowing what do I do with this fire hydrant? Or what "what maintenance has been done on this valve?" and "by who?". Understanding what is where, is only a small part of the picture.
A simple feature like geotagging photos to your water infrastructure assets, helps to provide context to the content stored on the asset like age, condition, criticality of failure, business risk exposure, and cost of replacement.
Having a picture of the asset alongside a location detail photo, helps busy operators to see exactly what the rest of their crew is seeing. This leads to greater field productivity, and improves utility efficiency.
You might be saying to yourself, 'Isn't Ziptility a cloud-based GIS software?", and we would say yes. We will also say that, it's important that one of your online mapping tool features should be the ability to take your maps offline.
Many small to medium sized utilities serve customers in remote areas. Offline data capture becomes critical. In order for this to work, your online maps need to be cached, and saved alongside a local database stored on your mobile device.
All of the data surrounding the particular asset, should also be maintained so your utility crew has access to critical information, everywhere on every device.
Offline Data Collection should feel and function like it does when it's online. Your online mapping software should come pre-integrated with a mobile app to allow for mobile data collection from your utility crews.
Take Maps Offline
Taking maps offline is simple. Well, it should be. If you're using a gis software solution like ESRI, call a developer and we wish you good luck.
If you're using a gis mapping solution like Ziptility all you have to do is click the "Download Map" button in your mobile app.
From there you simply select which layers you'd like to export.
As you can see from these images, a water utility asset management software might have the following data layers in there to capture:
Lead & Copper Rule Revision Flags
What Is Mobile GIS? Everyone spends time talking about Web GIS and Cloud GIS but very few spend time talking about why it's important for utilities to have mobile data collection tools.
Utility Operations extend beyond the office. A utility field crew could spend over 90% of their day away from a desk. It's where most of the work happens at a utility. In the field.
Mobile GIS enables utility managers and utility operators to eliminate redundant work, and it allows them to have a real-time snapshot into what's happening across their team.
The best Utility Management software should allow a superintendent to make sure their field operations are performing at optimal capacity. Every crew member should be able to update data as they come into contact with infrastructure assets. They should also be able update any scheduled work orders that may have come from your asset management software. We wrote a helpful guide on the benefits of mobile asset management here.
Ziptility understands the power of mobile GIS. In fact, we've architected our entire application based on that idea. We make it very easy for you to turn your desktop GIS into a collaborative GIS, by adding in real-time alerts and notifications.
Mobile GIS should give your utility crews the ability to communicate on assets in real-time. By using the discuss feature in Ziptility, you have the ability to comment and @ teammates from the field to ensure real-time communication between crew members in your utility.
This allows your team to make real-time decisions based on accurate data versus relying on paper-based utility workflows that create a lag in how quickly information can be shared back and forth.
Here's a list of a Mobile Geographic Information System:
Real-time information sharing
Offline Data Collection
However, if you're using a legacy solution provider, you have to pay for every single device that you add. Ziptility is the best mobile GIS because it allows you to get started for free, and it allows you to add unlimited users and devices to your organization.
This allows you to have the greatest amount of data capture possible.
Cloud GIS or Cloud geographic information systems are superior to desktop GIS systems because they allow your data and information to be synced in real-time, backed up, and secured more properly.
In order for your system to be updated with a desktop GIS, you must sync files from one device to another and ensure that the files and fields are saved to match exactly.
With a cloud GIS, you can easily add and update information, and adjust it, in a browser to match your preferences.
Real-time mapping allows your office team to collaborate with your field team without missing a beat.
Cloud GIS is significantly more secure than normal legacy GIS software because it allows your data to be backed up, it can be restored to go back to previous versions, and it can also be secured by adding additional layers of authentication for users, like 2 Factor Authentication. This is a programmatic way to prove that your GIS users are who they actually say they are by forcing an additional step to signing up beyond using an email for sign in or a phone number.
Utility GIS or Utility geographic information systems is what we've set out to build at Ziptility. GIS software with utility specific workflows and functionality that works right out of the box.
Some of the benefits of this are that you won't have to customize GIS mapping software to fit your needs. You won't need to do any custom GIS training, get any GIS certifications, or go through some difficult GIS tutorial.
You will simply go through a normal onboarding process which might require setting up user names and passwords, data collection templates, required data collection fields, custom symbols and icons to match your preferences and finally asset management templates which allow you to complete work orders on those assets.
When you're looking for the best gis software make sure you're asking these questions:
- Will I need to hire a contractor or consultant in order for this to work?
- Can it be run in the cloud or does it need to be installed on our devices?
- Does it require for me to make sure it's compatible with my Windows Operating system in order to work?
- Will my team be able to use it?
- Do I have to pay for additional licenses when I want to add members to my organization?
- Do I have to pay for expensive training in order to learn how I use it?
- Do I get a customer success manager assigned to me to help me learn how to use the software?
- Does it allow me to see asset management plans and work orders on my map?
- Is it mobile-friendly or does it work only on my computer?
- Does it work for Android and iOS devices?
- What happens if I lose my device? Is all my data lost as well?
- Can I export my data without needed to ask someone to help me?
- What happens when I update data fields? Will they be updated on all my assets or just certain ones?
- Is it easy for me to clean or merge existing data without needing to hire a contractor?