NSTAR, Massachusetts' largest investor-owned electric and gas utility, selected information technology leaders CGI Group Inc. (CGI) and ESRI as partners in the development of a graphical outage management solution (OMS) as part of NSTAR's Graphical Analysis Tool for Outage Restoration (GATOR) initiative. GATOR leverages CGI's OMS and ESRI's ArcGIS already in production, to enhance the outage restoration process and improve customer satisfaction levels through more timely and accurate assessment of outages.
The goal of the GATOR initiative was to implement a new CGI-ESRI OMS solution to manage outages graphically. GATOR provides tools to the dispatchers to view customer calls on a graphical overlay of NSTAR's distribution network. By electronically drawing a polygon around the effected customers and identifying the cause of the outage, dispatcher combine calls and create jobs for field crews. This design includes the ability to create and maintain various types of template polygons that allow the user to efficiently and quickly designate areas for new jobs. This new solution also eliminates the dependency on network connectivity and replaced with the concept of service points, a geographic location that is assigned permanently to each premise.
GATOR was implemented in three phases. Phase 1 consisted of the development by CGI of a sophisticated algorithm to improve the Estimated Time to Restore (ETR) calculation, taking into account the job type and current status of the restoration process. To improve the ability of NSTAR's call center and Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) to respond to calls for information, additional development by CGI delivered an Advanced Customer Message (ACM) module using real-time feedback of more accurate information on the status and nature of the outage incident.
Rather than using the conventional connectivity model, CGI modified its OMS solution in Phase 2 to manage outages based on geographical proximity. With a seamless integration to ESRI's ArcGIS solution, a high-availability application was developed that involved creating, editing and managing outage polygons by more than 30 dispatchers located in two major dispatch centers. The CGI-ESRI-OMS was also integrated with other NSTAR systems through an Enterprise Application Integration Bus from webMethods.
Phase 3 involves the integration of CGI's ACM outage information with NSTAR's Interactive Voice Response (IVR). In June, NSTAR extended the reach of the recently developed ACM outage information to customers who access Twenty First Century Communications (TFCC) IVR system. CGI will also provide call recording and automated customer callback functionality through the IVR.
Eugene Zimon, senior vice-president and CIO of NSTAR said: "The faster and more accurately we can assess outages and determine our estimated time to restore, the better we can keep our customers informed about the status of an outage. By utilizing our IVR to provide outage status, we are improving customer service while at the same time, lowering our costs."
David Hotte, vice-president of Solution Engineering and Support, of CGI added: "Having collaborated with NSTAR for the last 4 years, we feel confident that CGI's OMS provides the flexibility required to reflect NSTAR's business reality. We are meeting a huge need in the industry as a rise in severe weather conditions has challenged energy providers to implement better restoration solutions to manage outages."
"NSTAR has a history of forward-thinking GIS deployments," states Bill Meehan, ESRI director of Utility Solutions. "The company continues this tradition today by leveraging existing GIS investments and extending them throughout the enterprise. The end result is a single, open and integrated GIS platform used across the organization. Now more users than ever can benefit from spatial applications and data."
As Massachusetts' largest investor-owned electric and gas utility, NSTAR has been transmitting and delivering electricity and natural gas for more than 100 years. We serve nearly 1.4 million residential and business customers in over 100 Eastern Massachusetts communities. NSTAR's regulated subsidiaries have more than 3,200 employees. NSTAR transmits and delivers electricity to more than one million customers in the City of Boston, and 80 other communities in Eastern and Central Massachusetts. NSTAR also delivers natural gas to more than 300,000 homes in 51 communities. For more information about NSTAR visit www.nstaronline.com.
Founded in 1976, CGI is among the largest independent information technology and business process services firms in North America. CGI and its affiliated companies employ approximately 25,000 professionals. CGI provides end-to-end IT and business process services to clients worldwide from offices in Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia Pacific as well as from centers of excellence in India and Canada. CGI's annualized revenue run rate is currently CDN$3.8 billion (US$2.8 billion) and at March 31, 2004, CGI's order backlog was CDN$12.0 billion (US$9.1 billion). CGI's shares are listed on the TSX (GIB.A) and the NYSE (GIB) and are included in the S&P/TSX Composite Index as well as the S&P/TSX Capped Information Technology and MidCap Indices. Website: www.cgi.com/en/utilities.
Founded in 1969, ESRI (www.esri.com) is the world leader in the GIS software industry. ESRI offers innovative solutions that help users create, manage, analyze, and display information to make timely decisions and solve problems they encounter every day. ESRI's comprehensive product line ranges from desktop GIS to GIS for the enterprise.
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