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10 years on Smallworld GIS: How MPEC Kraków manages & maintains the critical network assets

By May 22, 2018December 20th, 2018District Heating, Smallworld

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Globema, we asked our longtime customers to present their implementation of a system based on the Smallworld software. We received a lot of very interesting studies in various forms, for which we are grateful to all authors. Below we present an article based on one of the studies we received – written by Roman Stolarski from MPEC Kraków, about implementing DH.GIS – a system designed for district heating companies.

The implementation of DH.GIS started in 2008
System provides the current data on network infrastructure
DH.GIS – useful in many departments in MPEC

In order to explain issues relating to implementation and functioning of the DH.GIS system in MPEC Kraków, we need to go back to the time before 2008. That year should be acknowledged as an actual beginning of work on the construction of the GIS system. The lack of a unified system for managing technical infrastructure, dispersed in the city, became more troublesome. At the same time, MPEC Kraków was realizing huge investment project involving the modernization of approx. 133 km of heating networks, removal of many group heat exchange stations and the replacement of 535 heat distribution units. In addition, current investments were carried out, related to connecting new end users in the number of approx. 200 per year. It required a constant extension of the heating network by the number of a few kilometers a year. In this situation, a previous business model based on collecting partial data on infrastructure by various organizational units, broken down by either issue (alarm networks) or activity areas (districts, subdistricts), could be no longer continued.

Taking the decision on implementation of the GIS system in MPEC Kraków raised high hopes for solving problems that have been going on for years. Many employees had various ideas, expectations, and fears about the new system. There were many technical difficulties to overcome, a lot of work with entering, updating and verifying the data, but today even the skeptics cannot imagine MPEC Kraków without GIS.

Infrastructure elements covered by GIS implementation:

Heating networks exploited by MPEC Kraków
Pre-insulated networks
Heat distribution centres
5,000 +

A difficult task was to pave new ways for the information flow in the company in compliance with GIS needs. The process of adjusting and improving internal procedures must continue, as niche sources of information on network infrastructure beyond the mainstream investment are discovered. The investments of other entities on MPEC’s infrastructure can be an example.

During the input and verification of data, many inaccuracies were discovered in the datasets. In case of thermal nodes, this concerned: addresses, data on the usual source of heat, supply chamber. Over the years, the data on the heating network has been improved and verified. Without spatial and topological analysis using GIS mechanisms, identifying these problems would be very difficult, if not impossible. Currently, the verification procedures are permanent and they lead to improving the quality of infrastructure knowledge.

Who are the users of DH.GIS?

The users of our GIS system may be divided into three groups:

Employees, who mainly use the browser to search for basic information of network or other elements of the system:

  • operating crews
  • employees in charge of carrying out investment projects
  • department of technical conditions
  • other people in need of permanent or occasional access to data contained in GIS

The operational services now have the continuous access to information about devices installed on heating nodes and alarm networks.

Users of the DH.GIS editing version, whose task involves introducing information to the system, creating summaries, reports, are:

  • Terrain-legal department deals with issues related to the acquisition of land rights, on which MPEC technical infrastructure is or will be located. The module of operation of Transmission Easement effectively solved the issue of registration of legal status. Location of the owned right to land understood as the geometry of traverse is actually the only attribute invariable over time.
  • Material accounting – users use the system to verify created accounting documents for correctness and to keep records of fixed assets relating to the network infrastructure.

It is necessary for MPEC Kraków as for other similar enterprises to create various reports and quantitative statements pertaining to the network infrastructure. It was due to DH.GIS that these views could be “centralized” and standardized with success. These tasks are performed on editing positions.

GIS users, who create atypical analyses and cartographic elaborations are the third, elite group. As a rule, they require to use data not included in the main system and individual approach. When it comes to cartographic studies, it is also important to the visual side.

In this approach DH.GIS is treated more like a repository of current data of heating infrastructure, whereas analytical processes or creation of ultimate elaboration are held outside of the system.

MPEC Kraków is now more often dealing with issues of combining data from various systems, including DH.GIS. The combination is based not only on visualization of overlapping various background maps but also on mutual spatial and attributes relations. These tasks are performed by a small group of employees in the Technical Infrastructure department in MPEC.

DH.GIS implemented in MPEC S.A. in Kraków has covered the extent of many significant areas of business activity. It delivers current, up-to-date information of infrastructure and forms the basis for diverse out-of-the-box solutions, which benefit the development.


When the  implementation started 9 years ago, the awareness of users was different. Access to advanced, public GIS solutions was restricted. Today, many employees use various mapping services or programmes on a daily basis. Some of them are accessible directly from a smartphone. Such experiences raise awareness of employees in the matter of systems potential, and besides, they enable to develop our own needs.

During the implementation, there was an evolutionary change in employees’ approach to DH.GIS system. At the very beginning, it was first and foremost necessary to educate and encourage to use the system’s potential. Currently, employees suggest to use GIS system in broader fields of business. They also expect various, sometimes very advanced, database or spatial analysis.


Going forward: planning further GIS enhancements

  • Launching a new browser application – NetworkViewer. This implementation is much expected also in the context of operation on mobile devices.
  • Implementation of the module supporting issuing of technical conditions.
  • Automatization based on FME data acquisition from DH.GIS to other systems.