Posted on May 22, 2017

Innovative App for PG&E Field Crews Earns InformationWeek IT Excellence Award

By Laura Brackley

InformationWeek announced PG&E as the winner of the 2017 IT Excellence Award in the Data and Analytics category.

The annual award program recognizes leaders and companies that demonstrate outstanding innovation in information technology (IT). PG&E was recognized for its Mobile Asset Inspection app that provides PG&E gas and electric power inspectors in the field with real-time information including maps, customer information, safety and access information.

“Winning the InformationWeek 2017 IT Excellence Award in Data and Analytics is a great honor and I’m thrilled for our employees,” said Karen Austin, PG&E senior vice president and chief information officer. “At PG&E we are constantly on the lookout for innovative technology solutions that can help deliver safe, reliable, affordable and clean energy to our customers. In 2016 we stood up an enterprise mobility unit called Digital Catalyst to focus on building internal apps from the ground up and rolling mobile capabilities out to our workforce. The Mobile Asset Inspection app was one of the first apps to be developed by this team.”

The PG&E Mobile Asset Inspection app provides PG&E gas and electric power inspectors digital map and customer data, and the location of assets that may require repairs. It has also improved employee safety by allowing inspectors to view the safest way to access the asset and reduced driver time.

As an example of the app in action, when PG&E crews went out on storm patrol in January, they used the app to identify electric distribution poles in need of repair. Using the satellite map view, layered with PG&E asset information, they determined the safest, most efficient route to the affected sites. In addition to using the app on the ground, it helped inspectors patrolling by helicopter identify and locate poles that might need repair.

“Our strategy is about building homegrown apps internally for our people, by our people to help deliver safe and reliable service to our customers,” said Austin. “The framework that the Mobile Asset Inspection app was built on will be reused to create future apps to improve safety and efficiency across the company.”

PG&E’s Digital Catalyst team built the app using a “design thinking” development concept working closely with electric and gas field workers and spending 400 hours on field research discovery, shadowing field workers to learn about their day-to-day work. Satellite maps were layered with the location of PG&E’s two million electric poles along with decades’ worth of data on each individual pole. The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) was built in three months and was rolled out to a pilot group of field workers to get feedback and input.

The InformationWeek 2017 IT Excellence Award winners were announced at InformationWeek’s IT Leadership Summit on May 16 at Interop ITX in Las Vegas.

Email Currents at Currents@pge.com

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"PG&E" refers to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation.
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