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GE’s Americas Software Summit 2016 Recap

This March the GE Americas Software Summit was at the Loews Pacific Resort at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. I normally don’t do a lot of research on the venues for these conference before I get there. As the shuttle van was pulling up I was surprised to see that we were right in Universal Studios – I probably should have guessed that. This was a beautiful venue for a conference and there was a lot of good information being presented. I wish I would have done that research; I could have taken the family for an extended weekend.

Dr. Michael Raynor from Monitor Deloitte, one of the keynote speakers, kicked things off with a talk about the disruptive capabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT). The basic premise of the talk was that IoT will help complete a “Value Loop” in different industries by providing a wealth of new and interesting data. The most accurate place to get data is at the source and using sensors, not humans, to collect this data.  Dr. Raynor made a strong case for the connection between this type of data acquisition and the success of things like predictive maintenance of equipment. Having a vast field of performance data from equipment to analyze will help in the identification of anomalies leading up to the point of failure. If detected early enough, those anomalies can be used as key indicators that maintenance needs to be performed before the equipment fails. This would be almost impossible without the use of sensors to collect the data and the IoT will help this expand greatly.

In the core software, GE continues to push forward its re-architected Core Spatial Technology. This new architecture allows developers to write code with the Magik programming language, or use Java. The code (Magik or Java) now all compiles down to jar files instead of a Magik image meaning that GE has opted to use a Java Runtime Engine (JRE) instead of the proprietary Magik Runtime from days past. This should open the door for more mainstream developers who have knowledge of Java programming to dive into Smallworld and learn it’s immense library of API’s. By no means a slam dunk, but it certainly helps from the raw programming side of things and may allow new resources to start developing on Smallworld without the need to learn an entirely new programming language.

Another interesting presentation by Blake Philpot (GE) and Stephan Knoblauch (GEOMAGIC) discussed improvements to the integration between Gas Distribution Office 5.0 and GE’s MAOP Calculator. Using this integration, users can easily take large portions of a pipe network and send it over to the MAOP Calculator where the raw data is turned into pipe sections and analyzed for operating pressure based on existing PHMSA (US DOT) rules and regulations. From the resulting data an MAOP value for the entire pipe network being analyzed can be established. This is also a very useful tool for verifying pre-established MAOPs on an annual basis. An interesting element of the MAOP calculator is that the PHMSA rules used to calculate MAOP are completely configurable with a GUI based tool so as these rules change the MAOP Calculator can be kept up to date.

On the vendor front I was able to get some information on a new ETL tool from Geoactive IT called Data Dragon. It is very similar in nature to FME, allowing for a wide range of source and target systems, although this list of supported systems in not nearly as complete as what FME provides. The really neat aspect of Data Dragon is that it will define the Smallworld Case objects based on the source system data that is being extracted. So, when you select a data table in a source system Data Dragon will create the Case object for that element in Smallworld. This is something that FME does not do and it is up to the implementer to define those Case objects before pushing data into them. Data Dragon also provides some nice tools to pull information from the Smallworld Styles database into different file based formats like SVG so those styles can be used in other GIS systems. Overall it is a nice tool, especially when bringing data into Smallworld from other system.

Once again GE put on a very informative conference. I enjoyed attending and connecting with old friends. Their GIS products continue to advance and it looks like the partner network continues to bring new and interesting solutions to the table. Looking forward to next year’s conference.

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