Smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, Bluetooth-enabled devices and other mobile technologies are becoming commonplace in many homes. In the coming years, this will also be true for industrial workplaces as consumer-type devices become ruggedized, wireless communication capabilities become a standard part of field service tools, and internet connectivity is expanded to very remote locations.
Today, it's common for mobile devices to be connected to the internet but, eventually, almost every device with an on/off switch will be internet-enabled -- a phenomenon commonly referred to as the internet of things (IoT). When it comes to oil and gas compliance surveys, IoT will mean, for example, that a network of sensors will allow you to immediately know when a high-voltage power line begins transmitting at an accelerated rate.
"The cloud" has been a popular term from some time, but it's still not easy to understand exactly what the cloud is. Simply put, it's a set of computer networks that offer various services. Netflix, Gmail and Dropbox are all examples of cloud services. Most of the time, you subscribe to such services for as long as you need them. Think of them like the electrical grid where you draw as much electricity as you need for as long as you need it.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The way you approach oil and gas compliance surveys is about to change for the better thanks to three technology concepts: mobile technology, the internet of things and cloud services. If you wear a smart watch, relax with Netflix or use a smartphone, these technologies have already impacted you. In the coming years, they'll expand beyond consumer goods and into your workday. Here's an overview of each one and the reasons we're excited to see them become more widespread in our industry.
How New Technology is Shaping Compliance Surveys
This trend means that in the future, oil and gas compliance data will be collected, reviewed by a team and committed to a central database in near real-time with instant collaboration between field technicians and the back office as needed. A single mobile device, like a rugged tablet, will be the field tech's primary tool, in conjunction with a wide variety of pluggable and wireless tools like voltmeters and leak detectors. The full set of capabilities enabled by the tablet -- including GPS, mapping, network connectivity, content creation, and data capture -- will make field data collection faster, more efficient and less prone to error or rework.
Then, your AC mitigation system will notify you that there may be a problem, automatically begin measuring AC current density at a rapid pace, and adjust your AC mitigation system accordingly. Ultimately, IoT will lower the price of many sensors used in our industry while making them faster and more intelligent. They'll be able to learn, adapt and respond to issues automatically so you can get more done, faster.
In our industry, we're going to see pipeline compliance and field data collection applications transition into the cloud. That means you'll be able to rent the survey software you need, so you can easily and quickly equip your team with the right tools. For example, if you needed to add to your crew during survey season, the cloud would let you equip new team members for work in just a few minutes. You'd just hand them the mobile device and peripherals they'd need, add them to your survey data collection account and off they go. And your team can be as large as you need since the cloud supports mobile field data collection from millions of devices simultaneously, which would be cost prohibitive using traditional computing models.