Anyone interested in the Keystone XL project, which was put on hold by the Obama administration and which supporters will resubmit, will be intrigued with the article by Dr. Devon Cancilla, American Sentinel University dean of business and information technology, in the March/April issue of Right of Way magazine.
Dr. Cancilla looks at how geographic information systems (GIS) technology helps drive such large construction projects. A critical component in the oil and gas pipeline industry, GIS gives important information to engineers, scientists, executives, and public officials for every aspect of major pipeline construction. As Dr. Cancilla points out, GIS helps pipeline projects in three major phases: planning, construction, and operation and maintenance.
During planning, the information and analyses gleaned from GIS helps designers and engineers find the most efficient route for the pipeline while taking into consideration environment, terrain, climate and weather, and land ownership. In construction, GIS is an ally to efficient use of people and materials to better direct efficient work. GIS can work with other technologies, like RFID tracking tags, to automate materials inventory and assets.
During operation and maintenance, GIS provides a way for companies to monitor and manage activity. That can mean finding dangerous conditions that could turn into an explosion and preventing any danger, or to pinpoint where pipelines might be losing gas or oil, providing economic savings for the company. American Sentinel offers a GIS degree program, so Dr. Cancilla and other staff members must understand the underlying technology and how it applies in the real world.
That is why Right of Way, “the voice of the right of way profession,” asked Dr. Cancilla, who has a Ph.D. in environmental health science from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health, to contribute an example of the insight that helps make American Sentinel a place where academics and real-world experience meet.