Pipeline Integrity Management

When people talk about GIS and the pipeline industry they are really talking about

pipeline integrity management 

oooooooh, industry buzz words! Let’s talk candidly about what integrity management means. GIS is only a small portion of what constitutes pipeline integrity management. The pipeline industry has made big changes from past practices. Government regulation has *helped* boost the GIS industry to new heights. The regulations came about because of pipeline accidents. From the US Government Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Website

The integrity management rule has four primary objectives:

  • accelerating the integrity assessment of pipelines in High Consequence Areas
  • improving operator integrity management systems
  • improving government’s role in reviewing the adequacy of integrity programs and plans, and
  • providing increased public assurance in pipeline safety.

The government decided that pipeline operators needed to validate what they operate, and what is in the ground. Rather than dig up every single pipeline, operators needed a way to show that they met the federal regulations. In comes GIS to save the day! If you strip GIS down to its basic core, removing all the fancy symbology, and layers, what are you left with? A database, but it’s MORE than just a database. It’s a spatial database, meaning the database is tracking the events in relation to where they are in the world. Pipeline operators can track the location of items in their database (think pipeline).  They are able to track updates to their pipeline in the database. Most importantly, operators are able to link engineering documents or other important documents to the actual pipelines that they relate to. These rules are the reason for a GIS, how the data is managed inside of that database is often left up to the pipeline owner. Which is how we end up with different data models.

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