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Updating GIGS, a geoscience software evaluation standard

29 November 2021

Perhaps you’ve heard of unfortunate accidents such as drilling a well in the wrong location or building bridges that are a metre too short… Errors caused by inaccurate mapping and positioning, for example when using incorrect coordinate reference systems, can be costly and impact the safety of personnel, assets and the natural environment.

To avoid these errors, it is essential to evaluate how geoscience software handles your geospatial data. This is why the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP) recently revised GIGS – a testing framework that provides a geoscience software standard to strive toward when loading, processing and storing geospatial data.

In future, operators may make it a requirement that the software they use has undergone a GIGS evaluation. Dive into this article to learn what the new GIGS means for the future of the geoscience software you use, like NaviSuite!

IOGP guide
GIGS Guidance Note visualisation – courtesy of IOGP

GIGS is more important now than ever

Operators increasingly need to collate data sets from different sources and vintages – and these can each come with their own coordinate reference systems, which may or may not match each other. Discrepancies can for example occur when software use different terminology or inconsistent parameters when defining coordinate reference systems. Ensuring that geoscience software successfully considers this is one of tasks of GIGS.

EIVA reeled in to provide a software vendors perspective

bp, an energy company which frequently needs to collate a variety of data sets in their projects, was looking to address this challenge – through the revision of GIGS. bp chose to collaborate with EIVA, not only because of our position as an industry leader in developing maritime software, but because they were already familiar with the skill of EIVA’s team, since they were at the time working with us to develop a quality control toolbox in NaviSuite.

EIVA software engineers Morten Breiner and John Kelly were happy to participate in GIGS revision and to be part of the IOGP Geomatics Committee with other stakeholders from the industry.

‘It was an honour to be chosen for this project as it was an exciting chance to contribute to something really big: helping to improve data integrity in our industry,’ John Kelly explained.

Based on our own hands-on experiences with trying to run the original GIGS software evaluation protocols on NaviSuite, we were able to suggest improvements.

‘The EIVA team have been instrumental in revising GIGS Test Dataset and providing a valuable software developers perspective.’ Josh Townsend, Senior Data Manager at bp and chair of GIGS Task Force. He describes the new version as ‘simpler to use, more flexible in its application and easier to automate within software development environments’.

Testing NaviSuite with GIGS

Not only did testing out GIGS on NaviSuite allow us to help improve GIGS, but it has helped EIVA too! We have begun to use the new version of  GIGS to run ongoing internal reviews and tests of our software, for example of the geodetic engine of NaviSuite, a core software component for computing datum transformations and coordinate.

‘The process of testing GIGS evaluation protocols helped us identify areas where our software could be improved’ explained John Kelly. Our internal reviews using GIGS are already having an impact on recent software updates and our plans for developments in the future.

NaviSuite GIGS test easting northing latitude longitude computation geoscience software
A GIGS test of how NaviSuite computes Easting and Northing from Latitude and Longitude – and vice versa

One example of an area which GIGS evaluation protocol checks is a software’s ability to maintain data integrity when transferring coordinates into different systems. This evaluation protocol is even being used by our software engineers as a unit test – to test components of the software.

‘When customers request that we build in support for something they need, such as a new coordinate reference system, we are happy to try to add it – however, making a change to our engine comes with a risk of potentially impact existing capabilities,’ explained John Kelly.

This is where this evaluation protocol from GIGS comes in handy! With it, we can quickly check whether a change to NaviSuite has impacted any of the other coordinate reference systems’ data integrity or computational processes, simply by running the evaluation and looking for a failed mark on a calculation. Then, EIVA’s software engineers can find that specific calculation and fix it.

Geoscience software standards will help to avoid mistakes in future

In the future, operators may make it a requirement that any geodetic software they use has undergone a GIGS evaluation. In fact, many users in the energy industry have already made that their intention, as well as requiring that data is delivered in the latest standard exchange P-format.

P-formats are another standard which has been set by the IOGP. These formats are defined to ensure the most comprehensive data set possible and that it is easy to exchange data between contractors, operators and regulatory bodies.

We are continually improving NaviSuite, for example by adding support for standard data exchange formats. Most recently, we implemented support for the latest pipeline position (P5/95) and seismic bin grid data (P6/11) formats.

GIGS and P-formats are useful tools to help survey operators and software developers alike with avoiding the mistakes that often trip them up. Stay tuned and follow the EIVA cruise for more news on our how we update our software to fit the best industry standards and more.