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Glossary of GIS Terms


Accounting/Financial System Interface
Allows for a transaction-based relationship between the final posting of construction "as-builts" and the continuing property record of the impacted facilities. When integrated with work management, this may also include compatible unit cost tables and human resources for time reporting.

Addresses Connected to C/L (centerlines)
An extension of the centerline network that includes addresses-a key for locating information and accessing records in other systems. Customer information can be linked through these addresses to greatly expand the ability to locate and analyze the geographically positioned information with other spatial- or network-based systems.

Ancillary Images
See Geospatial Image Management.

Asset Management/Plant Maintenance
To maintain peak performance of all components of the installed distribution system or outside plant systems by viewing existing facilities, applying evaluation criteria (geospatial and component analysis), selecting facilities for inspection or maintenance, performing maintenance, and updating enterprise information systems.

BB (Broadband) Comm/Fiber, Microwave
Data delivery technologies for communications products and services (voice, data, and video) that allow for vastly increased flows of digital data and support the transmission of a host of enhanced telecommunication products.

Cathodic Protection Management
Applications supporting the tracking, monitoring, scheduling, and defining of the corrosion protection necessary for underground facilities. Includes identification of corrosive or resistivity of soils and pipeline leaks caused by corrosion.

Centerline (C/L) Network
A nodal, node edge, or node connector segment model built from the centerline of streets, roads, or rights-of-way. Other significant linear land features may be defined by centerlines and included in the model. The model of nodes and connected segments is the foundation for numerous applications. When attributes are added to this structure, the uses range from geo-locating to sophisticated network analysis.

See Customer Information Systems.

CIS Integration with GIS
An interface between the CIS and GIS in order to link the customers and their physical locations for data sharing and analysis purposes.

COAX/BB (Broadband) Model
A facility model for broadband technology that enhances traditional telecommunications and provides support for leading-edge systems deployment in this industry group.

Company Real Estate System
The interface to company-owned real estate systems used for capturing and maintaining legal documents related to property, rights-of-way, and easements.

Continuous Landbase
Having continuous mapping coverage across the entire service territory, all in the same mapping projections, compatible zones, and/or compatible projections that can be displayed to the user as a continuous, unbroken landbase. The streets, roads, waterways, centerlines, lots, parcels, and rights-of-way are all continuous.

Conversion/Data Capture
The process of preparing a database (graphics and attributes) suitable to support the intended applications. May include acquiring new data from a variety of sources such as field collection/aerial photography, or converting existing hard copy/digital data.

The entry of the facilities data into the computer facilities model (paper to electronic medium). The data entered into the model include graphic features, nongraphic features, text attributes, and connectivity. (See Conversion/Data Capture.)

The entry of land data into the computer land database. The converted land data typically include streets, roads, and waterways at a minimum. (See Conversion/Data Capture.)

Corridor Ingress, Egress Mapping
The most fundamental component of an electrical, pipeline, fiber-optic transmission, the AM/FM/GIS data model is the base map for the corridor. The base map will likely include spatial data such as transportation, hydrography, boundaries, possibly land ownership, and the centerline for the transmission line. One of the easiest applications to develop on this base map is "location/corridor access" maps that provide the capability to locate features (valves, towers, etc.) on the base map and provide access directions for field personnel.

Customer Information System
A computer system that manages all corporate customer-based information. It includes information from the meters, calculates usage, calculates costs, produces and mails bills, and collects and records payments. Provides information for customer requests, records and sends information to appropriate departments, processes orders for new service and disconnects, and maintains all customer information and service records.

Data Conflation
The process of combining spatial data from two different sources in order to distinguish between relative accuracy and absolute accuracy, match attributes, and remove artifacts from the deseaming of the two data sets.

Data Exchange/OGIS
Data exchange within the AM/FM/GIS environment, including electronic data exchange between platforms, data translation, and the associated standards. Exchange of data within organizations and with outside entities is addressed, as is support for emerging technologies and standards such as those now being considered in the Open GIS initiative.

Data Storage/Data Warehouse
Use of technologies that support the creation, update, and maintenance of a shared, common data repository. This technology also addresses the tools and techniques available to access and utilize these data.

Database Connectivity
The capability of capturing in the database the facilities model to all levels of its configuration and circuitry. This includes all components of the system from source to customer.

Design Engineering
Designing work orders for changes to the facilities as a result of customer service requests, operations and maintenance analysis, or emergency repairs. (See Engineering Work Order Design.)

Detail Drawings
The ability to display and plot detail drawings such as congested intersections, detail circuitry and configurations, substations, regulator stations, services, manhole layouts, and main distributing frames (MDFs).

Digital Orthophotography
Use of digital orthophotography as base data for GIS systems and applications. A digital orthophoto is a computer-generated image made from a vertical aerial photo that has been corrected for the scale variations inherent to aerial photography. These include correction for aircraft positioning, curvature of the earth, and irregularities in the earth's surface.

Dispatch Management
Types of vehicles, skills required, crew makeup, automated vehicle locating, and vehicle routing used for dispatching and managing construction, repair, and service crews.

Distribution Automation-SCADA Integration
Operational information available at facilities (nodes) where control and collection equipment exists that allows for the analysis and reporting of flows, pressures, and operational status of facilities.

Document Management
The electronic management of documents incorporating scanning technology, digital storage, and database tracking of digital documents that facilitates efficient storage/retrieval.

Document Management/Work Flow
The electronic management of documents incorporating scanning technology, digital storage, and database tracking of digital documents. In addition to facilitating efficient storage/retrieval, it incorporates document routing and work flow optimization.

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Engineering Analysis/Network Analysis

Application(s), both integrated within a GIS and interfaced, that support modeling and analysis of the networked facilities to support operations (quasi-real time) and planning department needs. Computer programs that use a nodal connectivity model of the network, which can be extracted from the facilities model, to analyze the configuration and characteristics of the system based on current, future, and peak demands. These applications help determine the most cost-effective way to operate, maintain, and expand the system. A typical work flow would trace and extract desired data from the GIS facilities model, pass the data set to the network analysis engine, perform engineering calculations and analysis, present graphics and tabular results for review and modifications, and use engineering design and work management processes to design facilities changes.

Engineering Work Order Design
Utilization of GIS in a work management environment for producing designs, cost estimates, and/or work orders for constructing and maintaining facilities. Maintenance of maps and records becomes a by-product of the design process.

Facilities Data Migration
The process of moving facilities data from one electronic model to another to incorporate new features or move to a different system. This may be simple or complex. Many migrations add intelligence to the data in the process. For example, spatial relationships may be converted to explicit pointers in the database during migration.

Facilities Update Cycle (Database Maintenance)
The cycle begins when facilities are installed in the field and is considered finished when it is updated in the computer facilities model.

Facility Locating (GPS)
Obtaining locations of utility/facility infrastructure features through Global Positioning System (GPS) techniques and input into the GIS database.

Facility Model Analysis and Planning
The use of digital data models to analyze utility system weaknesses, evaluate failure scenarios, optimize facility configurations, and project future requirements.

Physical plant components such as pipes, transformers, manholes, cables, and conduits. These components are represented differently in each software system, some as objects and others as features. These can range from dumb graphics to all-encompassing definitions that integrate the entire graphic and attribute information related to the component. Dumb graphics are primarily limited to producing pictures, drawings, and maps. Features or objects with all associated attributes open up unlimited possibilities for operations and maintenance.

Field Automation
Also known as Field Computing, Pen Computing/Mobile Computing/Field Data Capture. Collecting or editing of data observed in the field for upload into enterprise information systems. Using mobile computers, with the model data, in the field for the purpose of doing such things as assisting in outage resolution, meter reading route mapping, transmission mapping access, pole test and pole top inspection, tree trimming routing and recording, GPS, and field locating.

Field Computing
See Field Automation and Pen Computing/Mobile Computing/Field Data Capture

Field Computing-GPS
See GPS and Facility Locating

Field Outage Restoration
The use of field computing with GIS data for locating, identifying, and restoring out-of-service facilities.

Geospatial Image Management
Also known as Ancillary Images. Management of scanned raster images such as detail drawings and photos that are related or "tied" to facilities in the database. This includes applications that manage "appended" raster images in the GIS and applications that interface with document management systems that are external to the GIS but contain documents related to GIS facilities.

GIS Software Choices
Choosing a toolkit to best fit business requirements. Factors that should influence buyers are data structures, development environments, ability to custom develop applications, cost, and ability of the vendor to respond rapidly to evolving technology.

GPS (Global Positioning System)
Identifying the location of objects on the earth's surface in real time to varying degrees of accuracy using orbiting satellites. The enabling technology for satellite imagery.

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Individual Facility Locking

A method of handling transaction management. As a record is accessed for change, it is earmarked as "in use" and state transactions are tracked throughout its lifecycle in the long-term transaction mode. As a result, all other users are notified of action being performed on the facility.

Intelligent Landbase
A continuous landbase with the addition of graphic features, nongraphic features, and necessary attributes that provide intelligence, such as centerlines, intersection nodes, lots/parcels, lot/parcel centroids, centroid connection to centerlines, addresses, and connection of addresses to centerlines.

Interfaces to Other Systems
Interfaces to already existing (legacy) systems or enterprisewide systems under development. Examples of other systems where an interface is beneficial are work management, trouble call, outage management, network analysis, SCADA, customer information, material management, property tax, plant accounting, one-call, and dispatch management. Many interfaces move data from the geospatial model to other systems. Some cases may require a two-way interface.

The ability for many people to access GIS data and related information through Internet and intranet browsers, including capability for both connected (LAN or modem) and disconnected (local data set) operations.

Job Cost Estimating
The process of estimating the cost of the work order for approvals and construction, usually incorporating some form of compatible unit descriptions used for compiling the bill of materials and unit costing for materials and labor.

Joint Use Pole Billing
The automatic generation of joint use billing reports using the pole attributes of ownership and attachments.

Location-based services, services for employing accurate real-time positioning of users to connect them to near-by points of interest (such as retail businesses, public facilities, or travel destinations), advise them of current conditions (such as traffic and weather), or provide routing and tracking services.

Land Update Cycle (Database Maintenance)

A cycle that begins with a developer's plan or an approved legal instrument making changes to real property and ends when it is updated in the computer landbase model. (See Conversion/Data Capture.)

Leak Detection
A process of defining areas to be surveyed for leaks based on mileage of pipe, historical occurrences of leaks, and soil resistivity. Crews work within these areas and log survey findings. Includes leak isolation by tracing of the pipe identified with leak to valves, with secondary and tertiary traces, in case of valve operational failure.

Leak Survey Management
Computer scheduling and reporting of the leak survey process. Computer generation of repair/replace work orders.

Light detection and ranging

Locate by Specific Facility
Retrieve a geospatial view of landbase and facilities information by entering specific facility data.

Locate by Street Address
Retrieve a geospatial view of landbase and facilities information by entering a street address.

Locate by Street Intersection
Retrieve a geospatial view of landbase and facilities information by entering two street names representing a street intersection.

Locate by Unique Attributes
Retrieve a geospatial view of landbase and facilities information by entering unique attributes for specific data types.

Locate by X-Y Coordinate
Retrieve a geospatial view of landbase and facilities information by entering X and Y coordinates.

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Main/Service Repair/Replace Analysis

Combining leak survey results, history of repairs, and cathodic protection results to determine whether a main or service should be repaired or replaced.

Marketing/Business Geographic Applications
The use of customer-related data to conduct sales or advertising operations in an effort to retain existing or attract new customers.

Material Management System
Manages parts availability and inventories for new construction, repair, and replacement. It is typically tied into manufacturers' catalogs and drives compatible unit descriptions. At one time these were primarily for the control of stores or warehouse inventory. The process is shifting to direct delivery from the manufacturer to the construction site, making the link extremely critical.

Meter Reading Route Maps
The production of computer-generated meter reader route maps based on customer address information and network constraints.

Mobile Data (Field Reporting)
See Field Automation and Pen Computing/Mobile Computing/Field Data Capture.

Network Analysis
See Engineering Analysis/Network Analysis.

Programming and Source-OLE/COM
A commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software application used to create software components that conform to the Microsoft Object Linking and Embedding/Component Object Model (OLE/COM) standard.

O&M (Operations & Maintenance) Asset Management
Application(s) to track facilities; monitor device and equipment performance; schedule and initiate inspections; evaluate inspection results; prioritize, initiate, and schedule corrective action (repair, maintain, replace); and update enterprise information systems (including GIS).

One-Call Automation
Systems that provide a single point of contact for locating underground utilities. One-call automation ensures that all appropriate utility companies are notified prior to any planned construction in order to prevent inadvertent damage to utility infrastructures.

OO (Object-Oriented) Software Development Tools
A software application used to create modular reusable software components that conform to the object-oriented paradigm. Software programs developed with OO software development tools embrace the key OO tenets of encapsulation (combined data and functionality accessed via an interface), inheritance (the functionality in one component can be reused in other child components), and polymorphism (the same method instruction can operate on different objects).

Other Systems
See Interfaces to Other Systems.

Outage Management System
A system that includes the trouble call system and also maintains a telephone system to respond to all inquiries from the public as to the status of the outage. It estimates when service will be restored, keeps management informed with special maps and other audiovisual information, and keeps the media informed with audiovisual information. It provides interactive information about the facilities to the crews in the field, provides information to call affected customers to ascertain information about service, and schedules appointments such as those to relight pilot lights. (See Trouble Call/Outage Analysis.)

Ownership and Billing of Joint Use Poles
Pole attributes are recorded so that combinations of pole ownership are used for monthly billing based on joint use.

Parcel/Lot Connected to C/L (centerlines)
An extension of the centerline network that includes connections of the land parcels or lot, thereby increasing the application's potential. Parcel/lot connections are most frequently used in applications where land and property descriptions are critical to the owner of the data.

Pen Computing/Mobile Computing/Field Data Capture
Hardware, software, tools, techniques, and methods required to support applications that allow data and functionality to be taken to the field for the purpose of viewing and/or data update/capture. Applications that could be implemented using this technology include order dispatching, map browsing, facility locating, "maps in the truck," field-based design, facility inspection, and facility inventory.

Plant Accounting, Continuing Property Record (CPR)
Each feature, item of plant, or asset with specific attributes that is installed as part of the work order/job order is put in the plant accounting database, where it is given an asset value. The asset values are summed for asset and tax reporting purposes.

Pole Maintenance Routing /Inspection
The production of computer-generated route maps for pole inspection and maintenance.

Pole Test/Pole Top Inspection
The use of field computing devices coupled with GIS information to capture pole inspection and maintenance information.

Precision Placement
The ability to precisely place points and lines offset from other points and lines from graphics, survey data, or by the direct entry of coordinate values.

Polygon Processing
The ability to determine and count features that are within an irregular closed shape (polygon). The ability to perform this task with several or many overlapping polygons.

Precision Placement
The ability to precisely place points and lines offset from other points and lines from graphics, survey data, or by the direct entry of coordinate values.

Property/Tax System
A system that reports the value of facilities within a taxing entity. Polygon processes are used to geospatially retrieve the number of features (items of plant or assets) in each appropriate tax district. Year installed and other important attributes are gathered in the polygon search. Using a formula for the value of each asset, the asset value is calculated and the tax values of plant facilities in each tax district are summed for reporting.

Pseudo Centroid
A point that is assigned to the approximate center of a lot or parcel. Its purpose is to have a distinct X-Y point to represent the lot or parcel to which an address can be assigned in that representation. Lot and parcel boundaries can be tied to the pseudo centroid for connection to the centerlines.

Public Counter Access to Information
A system made available either at a public counter or through the Internet that allows the public to inquire about geospatial-related information.

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Raster Facilities

Facilities maps, drawings, and other images stored in raster (pixel) format.

Raster Land
Landbase maps, drawings, and other images stored in raster (pixel) format.

Remote Sensing
The acquisition of data (primarily through the utilization of satellite-based sensors) without the physical presence of a human surveyor to acquire geographic data regarding land use, surface geology, vegetation characteristics, soil moisture content, etc. Programs such as LANDSAT or SPOT have typically provided data with a ground resolution of 10 to 30 meters. New programs are increasing the range of data acquired and are improving the ground resolution to the 1 meter range. These developments will not only provide improved tools for planning and monitoring of corridors, but will begin to challenge the role of aerial photography as a base for corridor mapping.

Right-of-Way (ROW) Management
The negotiation and management of ROW leases and all activities that require an operating company to access the facility in a ROW in order to maintain a safely operating system. Efficient determination of information such as landowner, lease status, facilities within the ROW, length of ROW lease, etc., greatly facilitates operations such as lease payments, notification in case of emergency, and accessibility to ROWs.

Right-of-Way (ROW) Monitoring
Periodic visual and/or video airborne survey performed to assist in maintaining the integrity of the system by looking for visual indications such as encroachment of construction onto a ROW, which may cause a service disruption. Airborne GPS may be included in the video survey, adding GPS reference on the video frames. With the advent of new video storage technologies such as DVD, it may become more feasible to link these surveys into mainstream AM/FM/GIS.

Right-of-Way (ROW) Monitoring and Management
The periodic visual or video survey, usually airborne, to observe construction or other encroachment on a ROW. ROW management involves the negotiation and management of leases. Information such as landowner, lease status, facilities, length of lease, and other data is kept on each ROW.

Road/Street Centerline Network
Centerline for roads/streets captured and entered into the landbase. The centerline network along with the intersection nodes establishes the basic intelligent landbase model. More intelligence is added when pseudo centroids are added and connected to the centerline network and when addresses are assigned to the pseudo centroids.

Rule Base Validation
A computerized process used to validate data being entered into the facilities database. All of the rules of the business are captured in the rule base and applied to all entries to ensure the integrity of the facilities database. These rules include validation in and between fields and records. They incorporate the rules for connecting of facilities, connectivity, and configuration. They may be very simple to extremely complex. The more complex, the higher the level of integrity of the facilities database and the greater its value as an integrated component of the enterprise.

Satellite Imagery
High-resolution panchromatic or multispectral images collected by satellites.

SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition)
Collection and transmission of real-time remote readings for flows, voltages, pressures, loads, etc. to a control center where data are analyzed and used to operate the system, taking into account the changing conditions.

Special Map Products
Special maps for complex applications such as one-line diagrams, leakage maps, cathodic protection maps, streetlight maps, underground conduit/duct maps, contour maps, connectivity maps, and systems analysis maps.

Street Intersection Nodes
An X-Y point assigned to the centerline crossings of two or more streets. The intersection nodes help to establish the intelligence of the landbase model.

Streetlight Maintenance
A process to replace streetlight bulbs on a systematic basis.

Topologically integrated geographic encoding and referencing

TLM (Transformer Load Management)

The determination of whether electrical transformers are over- or underloaded. Overloaded transformers burn out more quickly, causing costly emergency outages. Cost savings can be realized by replacing underloaded transformers with transformers of the correct size.

Tree Trimming-Routing/Record
The production of computer-generated route maps for inspection and tree trimming.

Trouble Call/Outage Analysis
Making use of the capabilities of GIS and its integration with customer data for identification of service interruptions, usually through analysis of customer call-ins and/or remote sensing. Includes the capability to analyze outage events after the fact.

Trouble System
See Trouble Call/Outage Analysis.

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Vector Facilities
Facilities stored in vector (points, lines, and text) format.

Vector Land
Landbase stored in vector (points, lines, and text) format.

Vector and Raster (Land and Facilities)
The combined use of raster and vector data in the same display or as reference in the same working session. Geo-referencing the two formats into a single display may require warping of distorted images to achieve correct positioning. Some images, such as digital orthophotography, provide excellent references for orienting facilities from another source. Other images cannot be warped effectively. The two formats may be combined for accessing and displaying assorted images and drawings that stand alone and are indexed but not registered.

Visual Facilities Displays
Pictures and other images that can be retrieved to enhance the graphics and understanding of facilities, configuration, and relationships. (See Geospatial Image Management.)

Visual Land Displays
Pictures and other images (such as congested intersections, important buildings, etc.) that can be retrieved to enhance the graphics and understanding of facilities, configuration, and relationships. (See Geospatial Image Management)

Windows/Windows NT
GIS or geospatial technology is moving into the mainstream and must reside with other office and field automation products. Since Windows is the dominant operating system in this arena, many geospatial technology systems are moving to these platforms.

Wireless Access to AM/FM/GIS
Use of wireless communication technologies such as public and private systems, analog cellular, digital cellular, and PCS to support mobile, remote, and field access to GIS data and applications.

Work Management
Application(s) to initiate, track, monitor, and manage the work order process, including functions such as entering the originating change request; viewing and accessing information about existing facilities; identifying change requirements; using engineering analysis and design tools as required; job estimating; interfacing with material and resource management systems; dispatching construction crews; as-built recordation; close-out, accounting, and update of corporate systems; and updating the enterprise GIS.

Work Order Processing
Moving the work order through its steps: design, estimating, approvals, scheduling, stores acquisition, construction, as-built changes, model update, and property records verification and update. Access to the model shows state of work order. States include designed, estimated, approved, in construction, etc.

Work Print Plots
Computer-generated job order sketch for fieldwork (construction).