Google Maps, Now in Industrial Strength!

General Electric pretty much does everything, from making water heaters to designing nuclear reactors (very big water heaters) and the electric grids that snake out from them. And while you want GE giving your pressurized water reactor its annual tune-up, when it comes to digital maps – as Apple found out the hard way – it’s Google you want on the job.

GE just announced a partnership with Google to license Google maps for use in its geographic information system (GIS) dubbed Smallworld. Smallworld is a set of software tools used by engineers to help design and manage things like electric grids, pipelines, telecom networks and other large, critical systems of stuff that guys in trucks tend to keep an eye on. Ironically, Smallworld is about to get a lot bigger as it opens its walled garden up to Google Maps. But Google Maps could start to evolve too as the mapping needs of this new set of industrial users starts banging away on it.

Just as office-bound folks started to bring their tablets, smartphones and other consumer tech to work because it just worked better, GE landed on Google Maps for its accuracy and familiarity, says Bryan Friehauf, the product line leader of software solutions for GE’s Digital Energy business. “Everyone has such high expectations around the quality of these kinds of tools because of their own consumer experience,” Friehauf says. “Those expectations and how we use technology is now going into the industrial realm. We can roll out Google Maps, and I don’t have to have a manual for it, millions of people are already familiar with it.”