A major field of work for Wales & West Utilities (WWU) is connecting gas to customer properties. They have to work out where to lay pipes from gas mains to buildings, taking into account obstacles such as other buildings, infrastructure, and a range of other natural features, all whilst trying to find the shortest path for greatest efficiency.
WWU receives tens of thousands of these requests per month, making an automated solution to calculate these routes essential.
Over a 6 month period, TPXimpact worked with WWU to design and build a program to calculate the shortest viable path between gas mains and client properties. Using agile ways of working and the open source technologies PostGIS, Flask, GeoServer, we built a complex Geographic Information System (GIS), capable of carrying out millions of calculations per second to plot a route.
Given the complex technical nature of the system, we put an even greater focus than usual on the discovery phase of this project to make sure we understood WWU's needs. By performing rapid proofs of concept with user feedback, we ensured we clearly captured the full scope of WWU's requirements for the program, to avoid costly rework later on in the project.
Above image: A connection between a building and the gas main, threading a path between obstructing buildings, following the shortest path.
The GIS program automatically calculates and maps out the shortest route between a gas main and a property in 1-5 seconds.
Thanks to this software, WWU can easily work out where to lay gas pipes, rather than relying on staff to plot routes by hand. WWU owns the software and there are no licensing costs, ensuring this is a sustainable solution for the organisation in the long term.
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