Editor's note: Our guest blogger this week is Tony Matheson, Manager Distribution Network IT Program for CitiPower and Powercor, electricity distributors whose core business is to deliver electricity to homes and businesses in Melbourne and throughout central and western Victoria. See what other organisations that have gone Google have to say.

As an electricity distributor, our primary job is managing assets such as poles, wires, and other equipment with a focus on safety, reliability, and cost effectiveness for 1.1 million customers, 80,000 kilometers of power lines, and more than half a million power poles. Every fault or outage must be managed, corrected and restored as quickly as possible, and risks to community power supplies caused by major events such as floods and bushfires must be avoided or mitigated swiftly.

With power distribution equipment spread across a wide area, we need to see the geographic locations of assets like poles, power transformers, switchgear, and so on, along with photos, maintenance, and planning information from our other enterprise systems. Yet we couldn’t overlay our data or put it into the context of an outage or other incident that might be happening in real time. The incumbent geographic information system requires specialised training to use and serves more specific functions. We needed something simple and effective to be able to overlay information from a variety of third-party sources including real-time emergency services information, as well as add further value and usefulness to data housed within our existing SAP Enterprise Asset Management software and Data Warehouse.

After considering several options, we chose Google Earth Enterprise because it would offer powerful 3D visualisation technology that would be intuitive to use for everyone in the company, without training. We used the Google Earth API to customize our own view of the virtual globe to meet our exact business requirements. Our virtual globe is now housed onsite on a server behind our company firewall.

Google Earth Enterprise allows us to create maps depending on the need, share them with others, and reach remote workers, so everyone has a consistent and familiar experience wherever they are. Google Earth Enterprise is so innovative and flexible that we can develop iteratively, with agility, and at a very low cost. We often can add a new layer to meet an immediate business need on the same day it is requested.

Today, we are delivering better, faster service to customers and driving business efficiencies. Situations can be analysed and acted upon with speed and accuracy. Google Earth Enterprise has helped us become far more innovative and agile. The investment required was low, and the benefits were immediate.