Maximize Your Data Value with Spatially Enabled IT/OT Integration

Author: Ben Dwinal, VP Solution Architecture, Partner
Modern geospatial solutions connect systems and improve the ability to leverage data at superior scale, speed, and accuracy

Modernization requires IT/OT integration

2024 marks a year of significant transition for utilities across the US. Increased energy demand, investments in clean energy and renewables, distributed energy resources (DER), and emerging prosumers (producer + consumer) have significantly impacted the industry.

Indeed, according to Deloitte, energy demand is expected to triple by 2050, and numerous electric utilities have committed to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2030. According to Wood Mackenzie’s 2023 report, the US DER market is expected to nearly double capacity from 2022 to 2027.

These market impacts have spurred the need for modernization, including information technology/operational technology (IT/OT) integration. By combining IT and OT controls and processes into a seamless environment, companies can take advantage of vast data collected from sensors, IoT devices, and operational assets in a way never imagined.

But knowing where to begin, how to proceed, and dealing with the technical complexities can present a slew of challenges. That’s where geospatial solutions provide a distinct advantage. Leveraging location-based technology to optimize IT/OT integration, companies can benefit from massive amounts of previously unusable data.

Large volumes of operational data become a challenge to process and access in real-time unless filtered by time or location. Once aspects of temporal or spatial filters are applied, real-time integrations become feasible and efficient. Accessing real-time sensor or device readings from maps and virtual reality environments reduces errors, data volumes, and redundancy while increasing accuracy, timeliness, and completeness. Ultimately, with more high-quality data available for decision support, organizations can improve operational efficiency, streamline workflows, and lower costs.

Decision makers today have access to many systems. What they need is access to more real-time data using fewer interfaces. By maximizing the power of modern IT capabilities with OT systems, decision makers are able to integrate the full breadth of their data into their workflows, which in turn leads to cost and operational efficiencies and streamlined workflows.

Location connects IT and OT

As the power industry prepares for increased demand and prioritizes clean and renewable energy generation such as solar, wind, and hydro, companies are modernizing their IT. This modernization includes employing smart grid technologies that incorporate bidirectional data. As a result, these same businesses seek to exploit operational systems and data from sources such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS), and Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI).

By taking advantage of IT applications and interfaces that integrate data from OT monitoring and control systems, organizations can operate more efficiently to meet demand, reduce outages, and improve how they distribute energy safely and reliably. Decision makers can access real-time sensor data and operational data coming from devices on the grid and combine them with other IT data sources for new insights. They can visualize dynamic data and overlay it with real-world conditions on the ground for true situational awareness.

Instead of viewing a table of sensor readings, staff can view a map with sensor readings on specific devices at their exact locations, with layered information that includes properties, land, weather, traffic, demographics, and more. Real-time data feeds can be linked into a geospatial context to develop a comprehensive picture of what’s happening.

When you unify your IT/OT infrastructure using location-based solutions, you streamline and optimize previously disconnected systems. That’s because information of every sort has a location, and leveraging operational systems and building and extending intelligent grids involves sensors that capture current location-based data.

For example, an OT system might store data on a transmission line simply as a straight single line, yet that line spans across many different communities from farms to factories to urban centers. Integrating attribute information into the geometry of the asset provides rich intelligence to everyone, no matter the application, accessing that data. SCADA schematics alone fall short of providing that level of understanding and insight.

Optimize your IT/OT with geospatial solutions

Location-based technology can play a vital role in all aspects of IT/OT optimization and grid modernization, including renewables, ADMS, and IoT. Specifically, geospatial solutions can be applied in four application areas to remove complexity and streamline your enterprise ecosystem.

Enterprise integration

For many, connecting IT and OT can create complex system architectures. Whereas OT systems typically are autonomous, isolated, self-contained, and run on proprietary or legacy software, IT systems usually run on enterprise applications such as ERP, CRM, EAM, and project management software.

Companies can connect IT applications, such as work management and asset management, with OT systems, such as SCADA and ADMS, with enterprise GIS. It supplies connectivity and interoperability with sensor networks, devices, actuators, and more. Companies can take advantage of custom integrations using APIs and flexible architectures that connect modern applications to legacy technology. Cloud services can scale to meet the tremendous data demands of real-time data feeds from applications like SCADA while lowering costs and reducing risk of using consumption-based cloud service pricing.

Modern geospatial

Modern geospatial software operates at the enterprise level, providing technical capabilities previously unseen using departmental software. Solutions include Esri ArcGIS and the ArcGIS Utility Network, which supply utilities with a complete grid model, including tools to model networks accurately as they exist on the ground in a real-world context. These solutions can digitally re-create terminals, switches, structures, components, and connections. They can also build spatially accurate algorithms and intelligence into those networks to gain insights into grid behavior and assess vulnerabilities.

Using location-based analytics and visualization, companies gain network functionality for operational awareness. This can include dashboards connected to real-time sensors enabling utility personnel to understand the impacts of microgrids and renewable resources on operations and instantly share grid information across business units with customers, regulators, and more.

Modern AI capabilities

As grid modernization, intelligent networks, and other modernization projects take priority in businesses, the need for accurate spatial data presents a problem. While these intelligent applications give a decision maker a better picture of real-world conditions, they are only as effective as the data they consume.

Applying location-based AI, machine learning (ML) and computer vision (CV) can support conflating massive amounts of data. It provides a lightning fast, scalable method to make data more accurate, timly and complete. This ensures spatial accuracy in the real-world view of operational data. Without precise spatial data, you’re diminishing the power of integrating IT/OT for enterprise application use.

Specifically, linking AI with geospatial technologies helps capture, connect, and organize data from any operational device using location. ML algorithms can deconstruct and analyze data and detect patterns from sensors to predict problems and forecast maintenance, repair, and replacement activities.

Modern mobile mapping

Modern mobile mapping enables crews and operators to access, capture, and update information from any field location. This can include data and information integrated from asset management, work order management, and GIS into an intuitive mobile application. They bring OT data from the field to the back office quickly, efficiently, and are streamlined.

Previously, manual methods or multiple-point solutions would be used to access that same OT data in the field while performing operational tasks, such as routine maintenance on a regulator or other devices.

With modern mobile mapping, particularly with solutions like Locana’s Lemur, a field operator can integrate and view sensor data such as volume or pressure readings while standing in a remote location.

They can view the actuator data, such as for control valves, from their field devices rather than having to access from  another system, such as SCADA. Lemur streamlines bringing OT information from the field to the IT environment and provides field mobility for maintaining OT data using IT tools.

The benefits of location-based IT/OT integration:

  • Increase performance and reliability while reducing risk
  • Seamlessly integrate enterprise systems with operational data
  • Reduce complexity connecting to legacy software
  • Employ AI to scale real-time information access and analytics
  • Improve data accuracy, timeliness, and completeness

Your IT/OT integration partner

Locana can help energy providers looking to modernize and integrate the IT/OT systems. Our consultants, technologists, project managers, designers, developers, and industry experts bring in-depth knowledge and skills built on decades of experience. As a TRC company, Locana has the additional investment and engineering expertise, including everything from AMI 2.0 to ADMS to OMS.

Locana has partnered with clients in the US and worldwide, prioritizing “owning the customer mission” and listening first. Customers benefit from agile methodologies, scrum, and other client-first project management methods that employ a proven delivery model tailored to the project needs. These methodologies ensure lower acquisition and total ownership costs and on-time, on-budget, and on-target project delivery. Open communication and collaboration through all stages of the project lifecycle, including post-implementation training and support, provide full transparency.

With Locana as your trusted GIS partner, you gain:

  • Deep energy industry knowledge and experience working with clients
  • Technical IT/OT, geospatial, and cutting-edge technology expertise
  • A proven track record of delivering self-sustaining, self-sufficient projects
  • Personnel dedicated to transparency, communication, and ownership
  • Solutions, packages, and patterns that accelerate time-to-value


Visit today to learn more about who we serve, what we do, and the solutions we offer.

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