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GIS helps define targeted stakeholders.

Innovations in technology are not only revolutionizing how industry operates, but are enabling pipeline companies to fulfill the industry's new communications requirements. Operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines are required by Section 5 of the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act (PSIA) of 2002 to communicate with stakeholder audiences.

Public education programs must incorporate information on damage prevention actions, risks associated with a pipeline release, physical signs of a release, steps to take after a release and how to report a release. Innovative Geographic Information Systems (GIS) applications make it possible for pipeline operators to pinpoint their targeted stakeholder audiences to which they will direct education programs.

The American Petroleum Institute and a consortium of pipeline industry representatives issued API Recommended Practice (RP) 1162 two years after the PSIA was passed, providing specific guidelines on which groups comprise an operator's stakeholder audience.

API RP 1162 recommends that operators include the following groups in public education programs: the affected public, including residents, businesses, schools, hospitals and prisons; emergency response officials, including state and local emergency management agencies; public officials; and excavators, including contractors and farmers.

The Office of Pipeline Safety issued a final rule in May 2005 that incorporates API RP 1162 by reference. Pipeline operators have one year to submit their public education plans and two years (June 20, 2007) to complete their programs.

Stakeholder audience identification is one of the first steps to implementing an effective public education campaign. Paradigm invested approximately $1 million developing the most advanced GIS application in the industry, created specifically to help pipeline operators locate the addresses of individual members of the stakeholder audience. This application, which is based on ESRI's ArcGIS, runs on top of standard GIS applications and streamlines standard GIS technology, making audience identification more accurate and efficient.

Northern Natural Gas Company, a MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, has retained Paradigm for three years to help identify specific stakeholder audience addresses. Northern owns and operates 16,000 miles of high-pressure natural gas transmission pipelines in 11 different states, from Texas to Michigan.

Dan Maschka, manager of safety, health and public education at Northern, was introduced to Paradigm while participating in the Common Ground Alliance, an industry association whose major contributor is the OPS. Maschka said he approached Paradigm with the goal of changing the way Northern had carried out public education programs in the past.

Prior to hiring Paradigm, Northern used a labor-intensive process to educate its stakeholder audience on the risks associated with pipelines, including face-to-face meetings with emergency responders, handing out calendars with risk information to people living along the pipeline and attending various meetings. Northern now supplements these activities by mailing a single brochure with information for all groups of its stakeholder audience.

The custom GIS applications made it possible for Northern to reach members within its audience without sending extra brochures to addresses not within predefined buffer zones. Paradigm's GeoCoding applications are more accurate, and unlike ZIP+4 saturation, allow operators to analyze individual records. The GIS applications compile data from 19 databases, such as U.S. Postal and farm subsidiary databases. Using multiple databases provides the most complete and precise data available.

API RP 1162 is a driver for many public education program parameters, such as buffer zones. With the help of Paradigm, Northern set its buffer zone for the general public at 1,320 feet on either side of the pipeline, and 10 miles for public officials and emergency response officials. Northern distributes approximately 500,000 direct mail pieces every year.

The brochure is broken down into several segments, with risk information specific to the affected public, emergency response officials, and other groups outlined in API RP 1162. It conveys specific messages related to pipeline safety, including: living safely with natural gas pipelines; call before you dig; how to recognize pipeline markers; signs of a leak; how to report a leak; and how to obtain risk management information. The brochure emphasizes that the public is an important partner in the safe operation of a pipeline.

In addition to its scheduled brochure distribution this year, Northern is joining forces with other pipeline operators who share right-of-ways to organize a multi-company brochure. By consolidating communication efforts, landowners will receive fewer brochures and operators will save time and money.

These joint brochures will include bounce-back business reply cards to measure the effectiveness of the program.

Open and honest dialogue strengthens relationships and support of the pipeline industry. Everyone wins when communications are more effective.
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Title Annotation:Global Information System; Public education programs on damage prevention actions and gas safety measures
Comment:GIS helps define targeted stakeholders.(Global Information System)(Public education programs on damage prevention actions and gas safety measures)
Author:Allen, Mark G.; Wilkerson, David
Publication:Pipeline & Gas Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2005
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