Geospatial Asset Management and GIS Landscape – a reality check

March 26, 2020 – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Why is asset management so important for the future of our water networks? Water Office looks at what the Asset Manager needs.

The Institute of Asset Management ( has kindly made available as a free download called The Anatomy of Asset Management. In this document, it identifies GIS as one of the components to comply with Asset Management guidelines.

All too often discussions take place about what is the better Geographic Information System on forums such as LinkedIn and blogs from various vendors. In order to help refine those discussions where the goals of GIS users vary from simple mapmaking to extensive asset management requirements, this blog addresses the asset management requirements for utility companies. After an extensive investigation, the scope of GIS is very much limited to the display of assets and some of its information in a geographical context. However, for utility companies it should be more – it has to be more – geospatial asset management users need to be able to take advantage of granular data.

So let’s start with the basis – Solid geospatial asset data model with connected topology is the foundation for any strategic asset management directive looking to support the digital transformation and implementation of analytics… the geospatial model must understand the asset journey from planning, design, build, commission and ultimate retirement. It requires the data registration process for all assets to support this journey and all the while integrating into the business processes of various other IT pillars such as ERP, real-time operations, etc…

All utility companies should be following this strategy. Geospatial asset management supports a broad variety of business processes in engineering, operations and finance while GIS is mostly about the display of assets in a particular location. Most Geographical Information Systems ingest data to display data on the map. That is different then being an integral part of the business process.

As an example, in the water industry, pipe splitting and pipe renovation are asset management related functions needed to maintain properly the real life situation of the assets in a water network. Think of the following scenarios:


  1. An asset manager wants to know which leaks have occurred on a main during its lifecycle in order to make sure the right mains are selected for replacement (if a main is split due to repair it must relate the leak to the remaining pieces of pipe)
  2. An asset manager wants to know after splitting a main which parts were once connected because the quality of the parts is often the same (knowing which pieces were once connected if a main is split). If circumstances dictate that the split took place at a different location, it should be able to roll back to the original situation and re-invoke the process for an as-built situation.
  3. An asset manager wants to know what the configuration of a network was at a certain point in time to trace back why certain historic events took place (never delete assets in the GIS, only change status)
  4. An asset manager wants to know every maintenance activity on a main. This type of historical data allows in depth analytics on assets and thus the ability to make the correct decision.


The ability to register this information properly is where most GIS systems have issues. It requires a tremendous amount of customization efforts to achieve this and in many cases requires the customer to acquire extra pieces of software. An asset management solution such as Water Office on the GE Smallworld platform, gives you an all-inclusive solution – a one-stop shop that fits all – both asset management and geospatial capabilities together. Water Office provides the foundation for every water utility to address their asset management strategy based on an industry standard data model, predefined topology model, complete data registration facilities, industry standard functions for engineering and operations and plug & play integrations.


So the question is whether the need is Geospatial Asset Management or GIS? What are the goals? Do you wish to reduce NRW? Devise a rehabilitation strategy? Reduce your investments? The best time to start good geospatial asset management is yesterday, the second best time is today. Contact us at Realworld we can assist!

John Leeuwenburg

Global Product Manager

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