The role of GIS and SCADA in energy transmission and distribution

Industrial organizations are increasingly combining geographic information systems (GIS) and process data from supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. In control rooms of transmission and distribution network operators as well as municipal services, the combination of these two technologies has proven to be valuable for many years.

 

With zenon from COPA-DATA, you can access many of the benefits that the integration of GIS and SCADA provides, including:

 

  • Showing dynamic process data in static geoinformation
  • Monitoring status information, including geographically correct location
  • Integrating the advantages of the zenon Energy Edition, such as topological coloring in single line diagrams and fault location in electrical grids

 

 

What is geoinformation?

Geoinformation refers to data that can be reflected spatially in the real world. Typically, this spatial data is combined with attribute data, which is additional information about the spatial features. As an example, consider electrical substations. The spatial data would be the locations of the substations. The attribute data would include details about each substation, such as its name, type and function and the equipment it contains.

 

The purpose of a geographic information system (GIS) is to collect, store, manage, analyze and present geoinformation. Other types of geoinformation systems include remote sensing (RS) and global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).

 

RS refers to gathering data about areas or objects from a distance and usually involves the use of satellites or aircraft. This data is useful for studying and monitoring changes in the environment. GNSS, the most well-known example of which is the Global Positioning System (GPS), is useful for quick, precise monitoring and positioning of object and human movements.

 

Using these data types and technologies provides solutions in a wide range of applications across sectors such as energy, environmental conservation, disaster recovery, transportation, city planning, agriculture, business trade, military and more. Combining these capabilities with other technologies such as SCADA can make them even more valuable.

 

 

The basic idea behind combining GIS and SCADA

Electric, gas, water and information and communications technology (ICT) lines, as well as other types, need to be documented in a system according to their location. Increasingly, organizations are combining this digital geoinformation data with SCADA systems in control rooms. Doing so enables you to easily access status information for lines in their geographically correct locations whenever needed. You can achieve this by assigning information to various colors and then coloring the lines accordingly. These colors allow you to easily monitor the status of equipment and view information about its geographical locations.

Combining geoinformation with SCADA enables easy access to status information for electric, gas, water and ICT lines in their geographical locations.

Benefits of combining GIS and SCADA

Combining GIS and SCADA can provide numerous benefits to energy utilities and other types of organizations with assets spread out across various locations. Some of these advantages include:

 

Monitoring status information, along with geographically correct locations

The term dynamic data refers to data that is continually updated as conditions change, while static data stays the same once it is recorded. Dynamic data allows you to monitor conditions in real time and see trends over time, while static data forms a foundation and reference point.

 

Combining GIS and SCADA enables you to visualize dynamic data related to current conditions with static geoinformation. For instance, you can see which electrical lines are under voltage in which locations. This gives you an accurate, real-time view of your system that is easier to comprehend than if the data were listed in a table. You can also more easily spot patterns related to location in your data.

 

You can also easily select the data layers you want to see, which allows you to apply your data to solve a wide range of challenges. Because SCADA and GIS enable you to monitor the status of your network in real time, it can help to catch and correct problems more quickly.

 

Integrating the advantages of zenon Energy Edition

Combining SCADA and GIS is useful for a variety of applications in the utility sector. The versatility of the capabilities of SCADA and GIS makes combining them an excellent investment. Their uses include:

 

1. Location of assets

On a basic level, GIS is useful for visualizing the location of all of your organization’s assets. You can view a map of all of your assets and even display that map across multiple screens to make sure all of the details are clearly visible. Having access to accurate, easy-to-read information about asset location makes operators’ jobs easier and assists with route planning and other tasks related to asset location.

 

2. Visualization of system status

GIS and SCADA also make it easier to visualize and monitor the status of your system. zenon provides a clear visualization, complete with automatic topological coloring, that shows the status of your equipment in real time. With zenon, you can monitor a wide range of factors that are crucial to reliable, safe operation.

 

zenon also features several tools that make it easier to visualize your system. Worldview, for example, enables you to view the complete grid and display varying levels of detail.

 

3. Fault location

zenon also makes it easier to detect and visualize faults. If an error occurs, you’ll receive an alert. Using GIS data, you can visualize the location of the fault, which may help you to locate and correct it more quickly. This visualization can help you uncover patterns if multiple faults occur, which may give you clues as to the cause. You can also analyze the locations of faults over time, which may help you in determining why issues are repeatedly occurring.

 

4. Remote system control

Being able to visualize the location of substations, generation equipment and other assets may also help with remote system control. Exploring geoinformation in GIS and SCADA systems may make it easier for operators to see where all available assets are located, which can help them make better decisions about how to manage them.

 

Integrating the advantages of zenon Energy Edition

Combining GIS with SCADA allows you to integrate the features of the two technologies, making both more useful. With modern SCADA solutions, integrating GIS is easier than ever and doesn’t require a full advanced distribution management system (ADMS).

 

zenon Energy Edition, for example, can include a built-in GIS module. This module can display any kind of assets associated with their geographically locations, such as power lines and substations, on a GIS map layer. The process data acquired from the SCADA system is shown in real time to indicate the state of the assets. The GIS view is complemented with a schematic view of the grid, for instance the Single Line Diagram, in a so called Worldview screen in zenon. When an event occurs, the plant operator can flexibly switch to the schematic view and drill down into any level of detail about the concerned asset in order to investigate the issue.

 

Worldview facilitates the display of process screens that cannot be shown as single screens on the monitor, due to large quantities of information. This is typically the case with the single line diagram of a bigger switchyard, substation, distribution grid and other types of utility network. Using Worldview, you can use zoom, jump objects and different sections to navigate around the screens. With the decluttering function, you can view different degrees of detail in various zoom levels. Worldview is compatible with touch, multi-touch and the mouse. These features give you more flexibility in exploring your process data, which combined the spatial GIS view provide all the insights you need to make an informed decision.

 

Automatic Line Coloring (ALC) is another useful function for using SCADA data in a spatial GIS display. This function provides information based on the topological structure of the grid, such as sources, switches, connections etc., to determine the electrical state of the individual components. With zenon, you get an integrated, standardized tool for employing services around the topological grid. For example, the software calculates the grid topology and automatically colors the elements according to their current status. This coloring makes it easy to see, for example, which equipment is powered, unpowered, grounded, offline and more. You can achieve this without any additional programming or script work.

Accessing maps both online and offline

With zenon, you can access maps whether you are online or not. Some network control systems don’t have internet access and, because of this, can’t use online maps. However, there are several alternatives to work with local map data:

 

When online mapping is viewed when an internet connection is available, the information is stored in a local cache. Once the map is stored, it’s available even when you’re offline.

 

Some network operators also use their own map data instead of publicly accessible maps. COPA-DATA developed a converter that changes maps in various formats to the OpenStreetMap (OSM) format which is supported by zenon.

 

More efficient processes

Many organizations maintain separate GIS and SCADA systems. When these two systems are separate, you often need to enter the same data twice, once in each system. Combining the two systems so they share data makes your data entry processes much more efficient. It can also help you avoid inconsistencies between your GIS and SCADA data. The automated functions provided by platforms such as zenon can also help you save significant amounts of time.

zenon can include a built-in GIS module, letting you create a SCADA screen and add a layer with mapping elements from including satellite maps.

Integrating GIS into SCADA with flexibility

In zenon a GIS view can be added freely into any screen, just like an additional screen element. Size, position and visibility are configurable. Therefore, on one hand a screen can be prepared as full-format GIS view for maximum overview. On the other hand, a GIS element can be placed sideways on a screen in order to serve as a navigation field, whereas details about the element which is selected in the map are displayed in the center. zenon supports both a simple setup of multi-monitor arrangements, and a GIS and SCADA arrangement where screens can coexist and interact, being displayed on monitors placed next to each other.

 

GIS layer by layer

Generating the GIS content is fairly simple and doesn´t require extra knowledge. GIS display in zenon works in layers. The primary layer represents the map material you want to use in your GIS view. This is configured by selecting a map provider, such as Google, Bing, OpenStreetMap or Baidu. This also lets you decide upon the used map style, such as regular, terrain or satellite maps.

 

Objects which illustrate your network and process equipment are organized in custom layers, which are successively overlaid in the graphical GIS view. Every layer can contain a custom arrangement of lines, areas and markers. Geo-coordinates can be precisely adjusted. The GIS editor in zenon also allows to import objects from KML-based files. The so called “Keyhole Markup Language” is a format to describe geospatial features, standardized by the Open Geospatial Consortium.

 

Better visualization for improved situational awareness

The visibility of single objects, but also the visibility of a complete layer can be controlled. The coloring of objects can be linked to topological coloring or to limit values of SCADA variables. For each object, a context menu can be configured to contain all sorts of functions from the SCADA application. This can be used, for instance, to open related alarm lists, switch to detailed process screens or generate and display equipment related reports. The position and the appearance of markers can be dynamically updated, due to the SCADA application – a powerful feature to indicate the location of mobile assets or to indicate specific events, like a network fault-location directly in the GIS view.

 

The engineering configuration of GIS views in zenon is based on an open XML format which contains all settings, geospatial features and precise coordinates. Custom tools enable automatic generation, adaptation and extension of GIS views during configuration.

Automatic Line Coloring (ALC) uses topographical coloring to identify components and indicate how they are connected.

Combine GIS and SCADA now

To get the most out of your geoinformation and SCADA data, you need to have the right tools. zenon Energy Edition from COPA-DATA is an integrated software platform that provides SCADA, GIS, human-machine interface (HMI), distribution management system (DMS) and other capabilities. It is backed by a range of drivers and communication protocols created in-house and offers intuitive visualization and control.

 

COPA-DATA has over 30 years of experience and continually updates zenon software to ensure it has the logic, algorithms and capabilities you need. To learn more about GIS and SCADA integration with zenon, contact us today.

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