Fully Control Underground Utilities with SuperGIS


Beneath where we stand, numerous utilities are deeply buried under the surface of a modern city, including water pipes, electric power wires, and gas networks. And they are probably much longer and more important than you think. As one of the largest and most populated cities in the world, Tokyo City has a total length of water pipes over 27,500 kilometers long. This number is even greater than half circumference of the earth, 20,038 kilometers.

This underground wires and pipes are the foundations that maintain the quality of our daily lives. Without these necessary utilities, we will live in a world that has no water to drink, no electric power to light, and no fuel gas to cook. And since these utilities are so important, how to renovate, operate, and construct them have become a very critical issue.

Sassari is an Italian city located in the north of Sardinia. Currently, there are around 130,000 citizens live in the urban area, and it is also the second largest city on this island. The gas utilities of Sassari are managed by the energy company, Mediterranea Energia Ambiente (MEDEA Spa.). MEDEA is a subsidiary of Hera Group, one of the leading energy management corporations both in Italy and Europe.


Although Sassari is not a city with a massive population, it does have a rather large metropolitan area and a historic city center that can be traced back to Roman Empire. Therefore, the construction and operation of underground utilities in Sassari are not an easy job, which often needs to check the spatial data back and forth for securing historic buildings. This necessary process often cost a lot of time and resources, which needed to be improved by modern technologies.


As mentioned above in Challenges, the current workflow of MEDEA should be improved by implementing advanced technologies. And fortunately, we know that GIS have strong capabilities that enable users to visualize, query, and manage properties with maps, which is continuously gaining popularity among the companies in this industry. Therefore, using geospatial technologies would be MEDEA’s premium choice to enhance the productivity and efficiency.


To use GIS technologies for the utility management, the following steps must be accomplished in sequence.

Data Conversion

First, all data should be converted or created as geospatial data, so that can it be processed by GIS software. By the assistance of SuperGIS Desktop, the professionals of MEDEA have converted text files with x and y coordinates into GIS data and plotted each feature on the digital map. And the data that acquired by GPS devices is also supported by SuperGIS Desktop. The Data Management Tools provided by SuperGIS are very practical tools during data conversion. They assist users to change the format, adjust the projection, and manage much data with ease.

Fig.1 The overview of underground utilities controlled by MEDEA
Data Snapping and Editing

After data conversion was done, the data still needed to be adjusted for correctness. GIS technicians should check the pipes and wires (line features) are well connected and have right attributes. So as the joints and valves of the utility should be examined. SuperGIS Desktop can also accelerate this process by its abundant tools for snapping and data editing.

Fig.2 The gas valves can be plotted and managed by SuperGIS Server
Data Publishing and Sharing

The final step is to build an online map for data sharing and data management with a GIS Server. By implementing SuperGIS Server and setting variables with the server manager, MEDEA has successfully integrated all the gas utilities and networks into a single online system, called Territorial Information System. And for gaining more spatial information, such as houses and roads, the map service from OpenStreetMap is also added into the same system.

Fig.3 Overlay with OpenStreetMap to gain more information

By using SuperGIS products, including SuperGIS Desktop and SuperGIS Server, the energy company MEDEA has successfully built an online platform and hence significantly improved the workflow of utility management. Administrators now can perfectly control the distribution and the condition of various underground utilities in each region, so plans for maintenance or new construction can be pre-arranged. Also, by overlaying the utility map with other map layers, analysts can find if the operation site is next to historic buildings in advance. Therefore, appropriate personnel and equipment can be deployed and the team productivity is increased. And finally, because the online GIS system is accessible everywhere via the internet, field workers can also receive and report the instant situation with smart devices or tablet computers right away, which also significantly improves the efficiency.


Modern geospatial technologies can help energy company to manage their utilities more accurately and timely, reducing a lot of unnecessary costs and human resources. In this Italian case, the energy company MEDEA has converted their data into geospatial formats and edited it by SuperGIS Desktop, so that the gas pipelines and facilities can be plotted on digital maps. Therefore, analysts or planners can understand the condition of all utilities at a glance and arrange better plans for maintenance or construction. Furthermore, MEDEA has also built an online GIS management system by SuperGIS Server, allowing a smoother collaboration between field workers and analysts at the office. Before executing tasks, field workers can check if the location is correct by using mobile GIS software such as SuperSurv to access the online map. After or during the fieldworks, they also can edit the data on-site to reach a real-time management.

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