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How utility companies will use Fulcrum to gain an actionable advantage in 2024

November 27, 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, utilities face considerable headwinds, finding themselves squeezed by regulator-driven demands for sustainability and environmental care, and grappling with escalating service delivery costs. In this challenging landscape, GIS-enhanced data collection emerges as a crucial tool for utilities, aiding in balancing these demands while maintaining operational efficiency.

Utility challenges

The need to overhaul legacy systems for modern demands, like supporting electric vehicles or replacing lead pipes, has been constrained by slow growth rates (3.82% for water, 1% for electricity). Inflation adds another layer of complexity by shrinking the budget for projects, as the costs of materials and labor continue to rise. In addition, heightened scrutiny from consumers, many of whom are struggling with rising utility bills, results in regulator hesitancy to approve the rate increases essential for utilities’ survival.

As if these weren’t enough, utilities also face the unenviable task of ensuring unwavering reliability. They must keep the electricity humming and the water flowing without interruption, even as increasingly volatile weather patterns threaten their operations. This relentless demand for operational continuity, despite the whims of Mother Nature, adds yet another layer of complexity to the already intricate balancing act utilities are performing in today’s dynamic environment.

Finally, the perception of investor risk in utilities is impacted by declining sales per customer and rising costs, all during a time when significant capital investment is crucial to address aging infrastructure and other pressing issues.

What’s a utility to do?

Fulcrum to the rescue

Fulcrum steps in where it matters most. While we can’t control the weather or the economy, we can significantly streamline your field operations. Our GIS-enhanced data collection platform is designed to optimize your use of time, personnel, and resources. By standardizing data collection and integrating seamlessly with GIS, Fulcrum enhances data quality and reliability, boosting operational efficiency, productivity, and agility.

As utilities continue to be stretched thin by a multitude of issues, Fulcrum provides the tools that help to maintain the balance between demand, reliability, sustainability, and the constant push for innovation. Join us as we explore the specific features Fulcrum offers to empower utilities in tackling these challenges.

Enhanced data collection and management

Empower your field teams while streamlining data collection management, achieving more with less time and effort.

  • Easy app creation. Build custom apps in minutes, tailoring data collection to specific requirements, SOPs, or variables.
  • Diverse data capture options. With features like image uploads and “select all that apply” multiple choice, data capture is both comprehensive and nuanced.
  • Advanced feature set. Signature capture, barcode scanning, and Web service calls add depth to data collection.
  • One-click deployment. Users can instantly deploy new processes and updates to synchronize field teams and improve data consistency.

Advanced user experience and workflow automation

Fulcrum provides the framework for natural workflows, enhancing field team efficiency and data accuracy, while offline capabilities ensure operational integrity.

  • Intuitive user interface. User-friendly for all skill levels, Fulcrum streamlines data collection tasks for increased productivity. For example, a drag-and-drop feature allows field teams to quickly collect data and move on to the next task.
  • Instant field data access on mobile. Access key parcel information, including property ownership details, parcel shape, and potential hazards like electric fences or unfriendly dogs, whenever you need it.
  • Standardized processes for data reliability. Eliminate guesswork and data ambiguity with concrete checklists and in-app references.
  • Automated communication workflows. Streamline communication between field and office teams with customized email and SMS workflows triggered by data updates.
  • Offline functionality. In areas without connectivity, data collection continues without interruption, and then auto-syncs once a connection is restored.

Robust geospatial tools and analysis

The Fulcrum GIS-enhanced data collection platform combines data precision and analytical depth to produce a wealth of geospatial insights. With a precise understanding and manipulation of geographic data, utilities and utility contractors can streamline operations and improve responsiveness.

  • Geolocation by default. Every record automatically includes geolocation data, adding valuable context to collected information.
  • GIS compatibility. Importing and exporting data in various GIS formats such as shapefiles, GeoJSON, and KML, Fulcrum supports a range of geospatial projects and analysis needs.
  • Real-time data exchange. Fulcrum can pull and receive data from ArcGIS as layers in real-time, ensuring a consistent, up-to-date data flow.
  • Spatial record editing. Anyone can create and modify lines and polygons related to each record to enhance spatial data analysis – no special GIS knowledge required.
  • Basemap and layer selection. Users can easily access and select the necessary basemaps and layers for their specific project needs.
  • GIS format flexibility. Fulcrum supports a wide array of GIS data formats, allowing for more versatile geospatial data management and data-driven insights. For example, water utilities can overlay a breadth of historical data on main breaks with current inspections, predicting areas that may require maintenance.
  • Video tracking. Fulcrum tracks both the location and direction faced when making video recordings, providing a true on-the-ground view of site conditions.

Seamless system integration and real-time data exchange

Lastly, Fulcrum joins disparate systems into a synchronized and comprehensive data strategy, vastly improving decision-making and agility.

  • Industry-leading integration. Fulcrum offers unparalleled integration with third-party and in-house platforms, enhancing data utility and accessibility and streamlining existing workflows.
  • Real-time monitoring and data flow. Real-time updates from and to Esri ArcGIS and other systems ensure that the most current data is always at hand.
  • IoT and AI. Fulcrum offers real-time data integration and monitoring with IoT devices and AI for predictive maintenance and early issue detection.

Charting a resilient future with Fulcrum

As the utility sector approaches 2024, it does so amidst a whirlwind of challenges, each more demanding than the last. Rising costs, stringent regulatory demands, the need for sustainable solutions, and the ever-present call for operational reliability define the current utility landscape.

In this context, Fulcrum’s role transcends that of a mere GIS-enhanced data collection platform, becoming a critical strategic component for any forward-thinking utility company. It paves the way towards a future where data-driven decision-making, enhanced operational efficiency, and strategic adaptability come together, fostering a utility sector that is more resilient, agile, and sustainable.

As utility companies navigate this complex landscape, the adoption of Fulcrum’s comprehensive suite of tools represents a commitment to innovation and excellence, preparing them to not only meet the demands of the present, but to shape a more sustainable and efficient future.

Dealing with the complexities of modernizing infrastructure and ensuring operational reliability? Learn how optimizing your field operations with Fulcrum’s GIS-enhanced data collection platform can help. Speak with a Fulcrum expert today to learn more!