Composite Applications Take Enterprise Location Intelligence to Next Level

By Joe Francica

Management of global asset allocation, price risk of energy futures and environmental analysis are just some of the challenges that global energy providers deal with on a daily basis. To mitigate these challenges, one international energy producer turned to CH2M HILL and IDV Solutions. This collaborative partnership created several composite applications that delivered a visualization platform reaching into multiple enterprise systems to retrieve essential information. Added to this mix was geospatial technology that provided the contextual foundation to derive location intelligence. In plain English - you can think of these applications as "mashups for management."

It isn't easy to get the attention of C-level executives. But the combined efforts of a major systems integrator and a specialized technology firm convinced the CXO that the team had solutions that could scale for large organizations. Based on a service-oriented architecture (SOA), the solutions resonated with organizations looking to leverage existing enterprise solutions to more easily integrate location-based data.

Using the SOA stack, 10 enterprise "mashups" were developed based on the concept of bringing the energy company's data together with external data feeds (Figure 1). These 10 applications retrieve multiple data sources that can be integrated with existing PeopleSoft, ESRI SDE or Oracle Spatial systems. Many of the solutions are map-centric with some of the integration occurring at the visualization tier (Figures 2 and 3). Using maps of refineries, terminals or pipeline routes that integrate with the location of employees, the benefits were quickly realized. One of these composite applications was so successful that the company is boasting a savings of $8 million dollars to its operations. (Figures provided by CH2M HILL and IDV Solutions.)

Figure 1. This screenshot shows a petroleum network of pipelines, terminals, refineries and offshore platforms in the Gulf Coast. Live National Weather Service (NWS) radar is draped over the map, including warning areas delineated by NWS meteorologists. Daily production is graphically displayed for platforms. (Click for larger image)

Figure 2. Well and pipeline field measurements are fed directly to a map where their performance is visualized within the context of time and location. In this example, the Map Layers tab is selected where wells can be filtered from the map based on several criteria. The filters also serve as a visual reference of the map symbology used to identify well type, production and health. A table displays field measurements for all the wells within the region. (Click for larger image)

Figure 3. Each well can be assigned at least two field measurement variables which are visualized as rings radiating out from the well location. These bubble charts grow and shrink through animated time - even their specific number values can be tracked via a tooltip when hovering over the well. (Click for larger image)

The benefits take on a very different kind of importance when hurricanes are bearing down on offshore oil wells and lives are at stake. The applications display real-time weather data to determine how and when platform evacuations should occur. When an evacuation is required, both the operations and executive management team can look at the same portal to coordinate the emergency response. Collecting real-time information in this way is key to sound decision making.

Application development company IDV works with the customer using a rapid development cycle. Employing a Microsoft SharePoint portal, IDV is able to get a project jump-started within 90 to 120 days through continuous communication with the customer. IDV leverages the strength of CH2M HILL to do the "heavy-lifting" of integrating an Oracle or SAP system. CXOs choose to use these applications partially because of their simplicity and also for their ability to integrate complex information.

Published Friday, February 9th, 2007

Written by Joe Francica

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