The pressure and the flow rate at a specified location in a pipeline system at a given time are pieces of data. Today, those pieces of data become information when they are interpreted by the pipeline dispatchers to determine what if any action should be taken with respect to pipeline operations. Unfortunately, modern pipeline SCADA systems do a superb job of destroying the information content of the data they process. rough indication of how pressures and flow rates change with time. cated in the paper we presented at last year's PSIG meeting, RTU's can do a much better job of deriving information from the data they process. All that gets through is a As indi-Some of the processing techniques which are feasible for analyzing pipeline data at an RTU will be discussed and illustrated utilizing data with a high information content.
A good place to start a paper with the title "Information Versus Data" is to make clear just what we mean by "information" and "data". For the perspective of pipeline operations today, the term "data" is restricted to numbers which enter a computer. Most pipelines now have SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Aquisition) systems which process data relevant to conditions in pipeline being operated (1). Since decision making today is still almost entirely done by humans, we restrict the term "information" to mean something that a SCADA system can provide to a Dispatcher intended as an input for a decision regarding an action which may affect the operation of the pipeline. The concept should be broad enough to include "information" which leads the Dispatcher to conclude that no action should be taken and the pipeline left unchanged as far as any action the Dispatcher is able or might want to take. "Data" is a concept created by man in this context. Reality is an operating pipeline. A SCADA system usually includes instruments which attempt to measure what is happening in the pipeline. "measurements" usually come from an analog device such a pressure transducer which converts the pressure level which its sensor observes into a measurement. A generation or more ago, that measurement usually came from the position of a Bourdon tube in a pressure gauge which was observed the by a human to generate a measurement (2). Today, the pressure transducer is more likely to put out an electrical current related to the pressure level observed by the sensor portion of the transducer (3). Usually, the SCADA system samples the current from a pressure transducer more or less regularly with respect to time and converts the analog value at the instant of sampling into a digital representation of the measurement (4). Many SCADA Vendors call this digital representation an "Analog Data" value to emphasize the fact that it came from a measurement that was in analog form at one point along the path which leads to "information". They reserve the term digital data for items which are largely binary data.