Meemim vGIS in action
Municipalities and utility companies are tasked with the maintenance of vast networks of underground and above-ground infrastructure. This infrastructure is difficult to access—pipes, cables, valves, etc. are buried underground—and often complex, with multiple utility types positioned densely near each other. The combination of complexity and inaccessibility leads to high costs for any infrastructure-related initiative. Additionally, the inability of utility workers to directly see buried assets occasionally leads to excavation damages, estimated at USD6 billion annually for North America alone. The traditional approach for locating utility assets relies on printed or digital maps in conjunction with specialized equipment such as electromagnetic locator or ground-penetrating radar. This process is inefficient and time-consuming, leaving room for human error.
Toronto Water is responsible for all aspects of the city’s water treatment, supply, and management. It oversees a large number of facilities and assets across Toronto, including treatment plants, pumping stations, water and sewer mains, laboratories, and yards.
Bill Shea, Director of Toronto Water, has a profound understanding of the need to innovate, and he recognized the value that mixed reality brings to the table. Bill connected with the Meemim | vGIS Team, and after doing their necessary due diligence, TW initiated a pilot project.
The solution was vGIS Utilities – a mixed-reality holographic GIS application designed by Meemim Inc. While wearing the HoloLens, TW workers can see an unobstructed physical world in front of them as well as a holograph of the lines of wastewater pipes underground. The pipes are color coded and projected to scale, while remaining “world locked” in the same physical location.
vGIS Utilities provides companies with underground assets the ability to see through ground. This helps field technicians close service tickets more quickly by reducing the time required to locate assets by up to several hours on a single job. Additionally, vGIS Utilities helps avoid costly repairs and line breaks. A line break means that work comes to a halt until repairs are made and many breaks occur because the aboveground markings are inaccurate or incomplete. This can result in a simple mark up turning into a USD3,000 billion repair.
Featuring stable and accurate holographic and augmented-reality projections, vGIS works on multiple devices—from phones and tablets to the Microsoft HoloLens. It features a patent-pending calibration process that allows high-precision locational and lateral accuracy to be established within seconds.
In addition to the time and cost saving benefits provided, TW sees vGIS Utilities as a tool for preserving knowledge as the workforce is bracing for a wave of retirements from the baby-boomer generation.
The underground nature of public utilities infrastructure makes it difficult and costly to maintain. Excavation damage costs due to nonlocated assets are estimated at USD3 billion‒USD5 billion annually in North America.
GIS data has a new purpose with greater productivity, improved data, a better connected workforce, and a far simpler deployment.
Workers in the field understand surrounding infrastructure up to 50 percent faster and reduce the number of field trips.
Improved data means validating newly captured asset location in real time and simplifying discrepancies.