Google Earth shows Ergon network
The first of its kind for an electricity utility in Australia, the system is on the verge of revolutionising the way electricity networks and other large scale utilities view the locations and distribution of their infrastructure.
The new Google Earth Enterprise system is capable of showing a three-dimensional visualisation of Ergon Energy’s network comprising more than 150,000 kilometres of powerlines and some 70,000-plus substations and high voltage transformers.
Delivered after three years of work to map Ergon Energy’s network over the existing Google Earth system, initial testing of the system is being hailed as ground breaking.
Ergon Energy Chief Executive Ian McLeod said the Ergon Energy Google Earth Enterprise system offered an infinitely quicker and easier way for network controllers, field crews and other Ergon Energy staff to view the company’s vast network.
“This system – at the touch of a computer’s mouse button – will allow our people to see an almost exact three dimensional representation of where powerlines run and what kind of terrain or areas of a town or city they run through,” Mr McLeod said.
“Among other advantages, the system will allow our network controllers to better inform field crews about the locations of potential network problems or areas of difficult access.
“As anyone who has used the generally available public version of Google Earth will know, it is pretty easy to operate and allows you to navigate the globe to anywhere you want to look at in seconds.
“The application of this to include the location of network equipment has produced an incredibly powerful tool at Ergon Energy’s fingertips.”
Ergon Energy’s Google Earth Enterprise system, in its current form, overlays and shows the location of transmission, sub-transmission and distribution electricity networks on the landscape.
“In the future we would hope to be able to use this system to show ‘real time’ network status – that is, show sections of our network off due to storms or maintenance,” Mr McLeod said.
“It could eventually show the movement of storms and lightning across our network map as it happens so we can better inform the public of such impacts,” he said.
“Ultimately, the uses of this system will probably only be limited to our imagination and innovation.”
Ergon Energy has entered into a contractual arrangement with Google and their Australian Google Earth Enterprise reseller and specialist HEDLOC to deploy and use the Google Earth Enterprise solution.
A joint team consisting of Ergon Energy and HEDLOC information technology experts worked cooperatively to develop the solution and deploy the system.
Ergon Energy’s Google Earth Enterprise solution – how it works:
The location of Ergon Energy’s high and low voltage networks have been “fused” into a virtual “flyable world” using the Google Earth Enterprise Fusion platform along with valuable Geographic Information Systems assets including imagery terrain.
Using the Google Earth Enterprise Client navigation tools, Ergon Energy staff can call up the three-dimensional representation of any region, district or town across Ergon Energy’s network, (Ergon Energy’s territory covers around 97 per cent of Queensland’s geography).
Ergon Energy’s “flyable-world” is served using the Google Earth Enterprise Server platform across their internal network.
Users can then navigate the three-dimensional globe which will show the location of powerlines and other network equipment.
Three-dimensional pictures of terrain and towns can also be viewed and “fly through” views can be generated by the Google Earth Enterprise system.
The Google Earth Enterprise Client uses symbols and coloured lines to inform the user of exactly what type of network they are looking at on the globe (e.g., high voltage, transmission or even underground cable).
Ergon Energy’s Google Earth Enterprise system is only accessible by Ergon Energy staff at this stage.