Improved data interoperability leads to more efficient maintenance of Sibelga’s network


In order to make the management of works and incidents smoother, the Brussels gas and electricity distribution network operator Sibelga needed to have accurate and up-to-date positioning of its installations. The essential condition? The interoperability of the various information systems! GIM contributed to a simple and standardised data exchange between the geographical information system (GIS), the EAM and the other management systems of the Sibelga network. Mission accomplished thanks to the Common Information Model (CIM)!

Customer: Sibelga

Sibelga is the operator of the electricity, natural gas and public lighting distribution networks for the 19 municipalities of the Brussels Capital Region. Its mission? To improve the quality of life of all Brussels residents by offering reliable, innovative and sustainable solutions. 

The challenge

"More than ever, the energy sector is facing profound changes, from an environmental, technological, economic and human point of view," writes Sibelga in its strategic plan 2020 - 2024. " The energy transition is moving so fast that we can speak of a real revolution. Under the influence of 4 factors - decarbonisation, decentralisation, digitalisation and reduction of energy consumption - the energy landscape must reinvent itself at lightning speed."

To meet these challenges, Sibelga has drawn up a strategic plan to provide concrete solutions for ensuring a reliable energy supply and offering a quality service. To ensure efficient maintenance of its network installations, the company has taken a real digital leap thanks to the development of:

  • an application to control its network in real time, monitor it and restore power remotely (ADMS);
  • a system for managing work on the network, including the scheduling of technicians on site and the follow-up of urgent interventions;
  • a public lighting intelligent management application based on a digital map application.

These new digital tools collect masses of information on a daily basis. To improve the flow of information, Sibelga wants to ensure interoperability between the applications and the data they contain.

This will give managers at Sibelga access to a wider range of tools that will allow them to exchange data across the network more easily.  Moreover, this should be done in a transparent and automated way without additional efforts to "translate" the data. This is an essential condition for the transition from a silologic to a logic of sharing information. A real challenge for Sibelga and for GIM!

The solution

Electricity and gas networks rely on complex data models. Management applications use formats that often differ from those used in the geographic information system (GIS).

Sibelga therefore decided to first develop a data exchange solution for the electricity network and then, if successful, extend it to the gas network.

In a first phase, GIM, together with Sibelga and other partners, worked on the analyses and tests for the development of an integration based on the CIM (Common Information Model). This ensures the quality and consistency of asset and location data in all electricity network information systems.

The CIM is a UML (Unified Modelling Language) package that clearly defines the various elements (classes, attributes, data types) and the relationships between them and allows them to be accessed from a single programme. The main components of this semantic model are

  • a vocabulary of basic terms;
  • a precise definition of the meaning of these terms;
  • how these terms are related to each other.

Based on the CIM draft developed by Sibelga during an earlier project, GIM contributed to the analysis of the CIM extension to develop a subset adapted to the specifics of managing Sibelga's various assets. This also included mapping the data to four different applications. This step is very important because it forms the basis for the development of an application for reading and writing CIM files that allows communication between the targeted applications.

The advantage of this solution is that any network update in the GIS is immediately distributed to the other systems. This allows Sibelga employees to work more efficiently and benefit from perfect synchronisation of data between the various systems.

The result

Thanks to the integration with the CIM model, Sibelga can guarantee real-time data quality throughout the organisation. Moreover, the data can also be managed more easily and exchanged smoothly between the different applications of the information system.

The solution we have worked out for the electricity network will allow us to extend data exchange to other applications and also integrate the gas network very quickly. We are confident about the future of this project to digitise our network management. GIM's experts, with their expertise in interoperability, geographic information systems and geodata, contributed to the successful implementation of the solution
Frédérique Lagae, Team Manager DBS GIS at Sibelga

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