Tag Archives: Enterprise GIS
Why should a water, wastewater or stormwater utility adopt the Local Government Information Model?
One of the biggest benefits of a water utility adopting the Local Government Information Model is that it makes deploying the ArcGIS for Water Utilities maps and apps easier, faster and cheaper. The further you deviate from the Local Government Information Model, and in particular it’s geodatabase schema, the harder it will be for you to implement the maps and apps that are part of ArcGIS for Water Utilities. It will also be hard and time consuming to upgrade your ArcGIS for Water Utilities implementation when we release updates.
Changes you make to the Local Government Information Model schema may necessitate extensive modifications of the maps documents, and changes to apps (web apps, mobile apps, ArcGIS Desktop, etc.) that are part of ArcGIS for Water Utilities. So the closer you stay to the core Local Government Information Model, the easier your initial deployment will be and the easier it will be to migrate your ArcGIS implementation to new releases or to deploy updates to the maps and apps.
It’s also important to note that when we say “adopt” the Local Government Information Model we don’t mean that you necessarily have to use it as is (or more appropriately – as downloaded). You probably will need to configure the Local Government Information to meet the needs of your organization. But the key thing to keep in mind is you should only be making changes to accommodate the true organizational needs of your utility. For example, instead of changing the field names to the field names you’d like to use in your organization, modify field and map layer aliases. Bottom line, don’t reinvent the wheel, just make changes that are required to meet specific business needs in your organization.
At the very least you need to change the projection to the appropriate coordinate system and set up the domains to reflect the assets in use at your utility. Small utilities or utilities that are new to GIS may choose to take the Local Government Information Model as is, while larger utilities, mature GIS implementations, or GIS implementations that are integrated with other enterprise system will undoubtedly need to make more significant configurations or extensions to the schema to reflect their organizational needs.
Water, Sewer and Stormwater Data Modeling Best Practices
The Local Government Information Model incorporates many best practices for water utility GIS. One of the most important best practices is how to represent a water, sewer or stormwater system in GIS.
For years Esri had downloadable data models for water, wastewater and stormwater utility networks. Those data models were the first freely available water utility GIS data models. They were stewarded by Esri, but built by the user community and became the industry standard. Globally thousands of water utilities have built their GIS around Esri’s free data models.
The Local Government Informational Model is the next iteration of Esri’s water, sewer and stormwater data models. In essence we’ve modernized the data models to reflect how water utilities have been deploying GIS over the past few years and we’ve also modified the schema to fit the requirements of the ArcGIS for Water Utilities maps and apps. As water utility GIS continues to evolve Esri will regularly maintain the Local Government Information Model to keep introducing new best practices into the user community and functionality into our apps.
Comprehensive Data Model
There is no doubt Esri’s water, wastewater and stormwater data models were an incredibly valuable starting point for water utilities to get their utility networks into GIS. Since the original data models focused primarily on a data structure for the assets that comprise utility networks, we received feedback that many utilities wanted more guidance on how to model operational data (workorders, service requests, customer complaints, main breaks, capital improvement projects, etc.) and base data (roads edge of pavement, road centerlines, elevation data, parcels, etc.) in their GIS. The Local Government Data Model solves this problem because it includes a complete schema for typical water utility base data and operational data.
Over the years, an observation we’ve made is that water utilities struggle with how to model and manage schemas for datasets that aren’t their utility networks or operational data – simply put managing base data can be a challenge for water utilities. For example we’ve seen a lot of utilities struggle with managing roads, parcel, buildings, etc. in their enterprise GIS, especially when these datasets are coming from other organizations or departments.
This is a particular issue for water utilities that serve multiple units of local government such as authorities, county wide utilities, state wide utilities and private companies. A good example of this is a water authority whose service territory includes three counties. The water authority needs parcel data that is maintained by the counties. County A, County B and County C all use different schemas for their parcels. So the water utility had two choices – leave the parcels in 3 different data layers and use them as is – which makes analysis, map creation and integration with other systems at the utility that need parcel data (such as a customer information system) difficult. Or invest time to extract, transfer and load (ETL) the parcels into a common schema so they can be used as a single seamless layer across the service area. The Local Government Information Model can now serve as the common schema in this example.
Easier Data Sharing
We describe the Local Government Information as a harmonized information model – meaning designed to accommodate typical GIS needs across local government. If organizations that commonly share data all adopt the Local Government Information Model, it will greatly reduce the time and resources spent establishing a common schema and migrating data to these schemas – thus allowing water utilities to focus on the maintenance and management of their authoritative data.
For example a private water utility may serve two municipalities. If the water utility and both municipalities all adopt the Local Government Information Model then they can all very easily exchange data. When the water utility needs road centerline and edge of pavement layers from the municipalities than the utility can just import the new data without having to manipulate the schema and will have seamless layers for their service areas. The same logic applies to the water utility sharing data with the municipalities – when the water utility updates the location of their upcoming capital projects, the utility can share that data back with the municipalities and the municipalities can use it without any schema manipulation.
Best Cartographic Practices for Water Utility Maps
As we’ve discussed in a previous blog, the Local Government Information Model includes geodatabase schema, map documents and specification for services necessary to deploy the ArcGIS for Water Utilities and ArcGIS for Local Government maps and apps.
The map documents highlight
best practices for displaying water, wastewater and stormwater data in the context that each map is designed to be used. For example the map documents included with the Mobile Map Template have best practice cartography for displaying water utility GIS data in the field in both a day and night time use map. The same goes for the map document included with the Infrastructure Editing Template – this is a best practice map document for editing water utility data with ArcGIS Desktop.
Looking to the Future
The specification for the services (map, feature, geoprocessing, etc) necessary for the ArcGIS Water Utilities maps and apps are also part of the Local Government Information Model. So if other local government entities in the service area of water utility embrace the Local Government Information Model, ArcGIS for Local Government and start to publish services, then water utilities can consume those services for their maps and apps. In this scenario the water utility may no longer have to import some data into their own geodatabase and can just consume the services right from the organization that is the steward of the data.
We hope you’ve found this exploration of some of the benefits water, wastewater and stormwater utilities will experience when adopting the Local Government Information Model helpful. We encourage your feedback on the information in this blog, the Local Government Information Model or ArcGIS for Water Utilities.
Oil and gas organizations are increasingly recognizing the value of implementing GIS across the enterprise. GIS data is rapidly increasing in its relevance to a wide range of departments, including exploration and production, land management, health and safety, and business operations. No longer are GIS datasets limited to shapefiles on a single user’s desktop.
IT departments may not always be familiar with GIS data and the workflows used to create, manage and distribute this information. Esri provides several online resources to assist you in building a secure, stable, scalable and high-performance enterprise GIS system. Here are some key resources:
- An Enterprise GIS Resource Center designed to help IT professionals implement a sustainable enterprise GIS by presenting best practices, patterns, and guidance in the areas of security, performance, and application architecture.
- A comprehensive System Design Strategies Wiki that describes in detail the Esri system architecture design methodology and the fundamental principles that contribute to system performance and scalability.
- A System Architecture Design Strategies instructor-led course that covers GIS infrastructure architecture alternatives and system architecture design strategies that support successful enterprise operations.
- A Building a GIS: System Architecture Design Strategies for Managers publication from Esri press, which includes a downloadable Capacity Planning Tool (CPT) and associated help videos that help you determine hardware and software needs by entering anticipated usage numbers for your implementation. The CPT is updated frequently to account for new hardware specifications.
- An Enterprise GIS Implementation Gallery featuring performance benchmarks on various enterprise GIS implementation scenarios. Refer to this guide for understanding and applying these benchmarks.
If you would like additional information or assistance in planning your enterprise GIS needs, please contact us.
Based on last year’s very successful Enterprise Architecture SIG, we are keeping the round table “Birds of a Feather” format for facilitating conversations at the Esri International User Conference EA SIG this year. We are modifying the structure slightly to allow for time to summarize key findings from each group attending, providing you real-time answers. Table topics this year include:
- Virtualization / Cloud Computing
- Enterprise Integration
- Performance & Scalability
- EA Methodologies
- Application Development Patterns
- Enterprise Workflows – New for 2011
- Mobile – New for 2011
The EA SIG will be bright and early again with a full breakfast! Thanks again to IBM for sponsorship of this SIG. See you there!
Who: Open to all UC Attendees
Date/Time: Wed, Jul 13, 7:30AM – 8:15AM
Location: Room 17A – San Diego Convention Center (The wrong room # is listed in the printed agenda)
Been a while since we posted anything on updates to the templates, but that’s because we’ve been busy doing some updates. A lot of good things are in the works. We’ve heard from many users that migrated their production environment over to ArcGIS 10 in the last few months and as part of that migration are deploying the templates. So their organizations are building new workflows and modifying old ones to take advantage of the templates. We’ve gotten some very useful feedback from these users and the below are some of the results of that feedback.
New fields in the Dynamic Value Table
GENERATE_ID Table – You all have asked and we listened. We are restructuring the Generate ID table to have two columns, Sequence Name and Sequence Value. Each row will represent a sequence value.
RUNORDER – This will allow to you specify the order the rules are processed. The previous extension processed the rules in the order of the fields. This caused issue when trying to chain together steps. The runorder is more of a hierarchy, so numbers can be repeated.
ON_MANUAL – Users have asked for a way to only run certain rules when I click a button. The on_change button is great, but does not allow for only manual rules. There will be a button to fire on_manual rules.
Modified Rules – We have updated a few rules, below are the changes.
These rules now have a value method that for lines you can choose to get the centroid, start or end coordinate.
C – Extract the coordinate value from the centroid
S – Extract the coordinate value from the Start
E – Extract the coordinate value from the End
JUNCTION_ROTATION – New option to list the diameter field.
New Rules – To many details to mention, but we will have detail info in the doc.
We are working on redoing the trace to allow it to be exposed to web applications better, as part of this, we are adding a secondary isolation trace function. This will temporary set all valves as inoperable, run the trace from the trace point and return the results.
We are anxiously awaiting the release of the Flex 2.3 viewer. We this release, we will update the Operational dashboard to run on this release.
Ne new version of the applications allow your customer to submit a service request as well as share information with them. Coming Soon.
Update – You can find all beta releases on the Forum – http://forums.arcgis.com/threads/20000-Beta-Versions
What keeps water, wastewater and stormwater utility GIS professionals up at night? Could be doubts about your system architecture or capacity, might be fears about data backups and recovery, maybe your backlog of unprocessed as-builts. A common concern we are hearing right now from the user community is about being sure that your data is good enough to meet the needs of your utility. This is driving more water utilities to focus on quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC).
Across the industry water utilities are expanding their GIS quality control procedures or implementing formalized quality control if they don’t have any in place. Water utilities are also reviewing their existing GIS implementation and workflows for ways to increase quality assurance. At some water utilities these changes are coming out the GIS department, driven by proactive GIS managers and staff. At other utilities these changes are coming top down from utility management that recognize GIS data now runs throughout their utility like a steel thread or from the IT department as it assess the state of all utility digital data.
But haven’t we always been concerned about data quality?
No doubt, if you’ve seen Esri present on water, wastewater or stormwater utility GIS over the past year you’ve probably heard us talk about how GIS fits into the “business patterns” of a water utility. We’ve gotten tremendously positive feedback from the water utility community that this framework helps people understand how GIS supports their mission as a utility. We’ve also heard from GIS professionals that this is a very useful framework t to educate their colleagues about the current and potential future contributions of GIS at their utility.
We thought it would be helpful to take some time to review these patterns as we will continue to build upon these concepts in 2011 with the Water Utility Resource Center.
This graphic shows 5 common “business patterns” of a water utility – Asset Management, Planning and Analysis, Field Mobility, Operational Awareness and Stakeholder Engagement. Just about all of the activities of a water utility fall within one or cross multiple of these business patterns
Let’s review these 5 common water utility business patterns and how GIS supports them.
The Asset Management Business Pattern
All utilities engage in some form of “asset management”. Increasingly utilities are creating formalized “asset management programs”. Even without a formal asset management program (and a program in this case doesn’t imply a software program, it means an organizational initiative) many utilities have informal workflows and procedures that guide decision making around managing assets. So from a hunch about what assets need to be replaced or maintained to hard scientific evidence, utilities are constantly making decisions about their assets.
The cornerstone of effective asset management at utilities is good asset information. Whether a utility has a formal asset management program or an informal one, decisions require some level of information about assets – from knowledge in a worker’s head to information in a computerized system.
GIS supports the Asset Management pattern of water utilities through being the authoritative system to store, manage and maintain accurate asset records that are able to be shared utility wide. Simply put, GIS manages asset information.
It’s important to note that it’s common at water utilities for the complete information about an asset to be stored in multiple systems. For example, GIS stores the location, connectivity to other assets and basic descriptive information (material, diameter, install date, operational status, etc) about an asset, a workorder management system (also called EAM or CMMS) may store extended information about the work history for an asset, a financial system may store depreciation and valuation information for assets, a customer information system may store complaints about the function of an asset, etc. Optimally there is integration among all of the systems that store information about an asset and the ability for utility staff to access data stored across multiple systems enabling a comprehensive view of the location, connectivity, status, history and description of an asset.
Going Beyond Managing Asset Information with GIS
In the early years of water utility GIS, the bulk of GIS activity for water utilities was focused on creating and maintaining GIS data about assets and that data was used to make maps. GIS was usually the domain of a few folks in the utility that were tasked with continually updating data to support the creation of paper maps for the field and the office.
Over the years, many utilities have evolved their GIS to much more than just a siloed system to manage asset data to make maps. Around the industry utilities realized that their GIS contained a treasure trove of information that could be shared across the entire organization and used to support many of the information needs of the utility. No doubt, utilities can significantly increase their return on investment in GIS by sharing it around the entire utility and using it to support multiple business patterns.
Planning and Analysis
Historically, when a utility had asset data in GIS, it was a natural evolution to begin using that data to support the planning needs of the utility through spatial analysis.
Water utilities plan for the future and use some form of data analysis to do this. There are normally 2 very distinct types of planning water utilities do – short term planning and long term planning. Short term planning at a water utility is typically focused on creating and optimizing reactive and proactive work orders. Long term water utility planning typically focuses on capital improvement planning and future utility network expansion projects.
GIS supports water utility planning and analysis by transforming asset and operational data into actionable information. So far we’ve focused on asset data; operational data for water utilities is customer complaints, service requests, historic work order locations, etc. Crossing the Asset Management business pattern we described above and the Planning and Analysis pattern encompasses what many in water utility industry consider define as a utility asset management program.
For short term planning, GIS is typically used to support creating and optimizing work orders. Answering questions such as what is the best route to accomplish my daily work tasks and where can I do some proactive work in close proximity to assets that need reactive work. GIS is also used to understand what assets you should do proactive work on and when you should do it. An example is answering questions about which sewer pipes take flow from restaurants that are frequent grease trap violators resulting in the need for pipes to be cleaned more often to prevent fat, oil and grease build up from causing a blockage and overflow.
For long term planning, asset data, performance data and GIS analysis is used to help utilities understand how their utility networks are performing. Then to identify the best replacement and rehabilitation projects to undertake and to estimate project costs to support project evaluation and budgeting. For example, water utilities use repeatable geoprocessing models that take into account many weighted factors to rate their assets on condition, reliability, criticality, performance, etc. This information is then used to help guide where to best spend capital dollars to maximize the value of investments in a utility’s assets. For main extensions; land records, demographic projections and proposed development plans are often used to help guide long term system expansion plans.
Water, wastewater and stormwater utilities have mobile workers that are out in the field for the majority of their work days. In small utilities mobile workers may have many responsibilities such as meter reading, customer service, installs, maintenance, repair work, CCTV, hydrant flushing, valve exercising, etc and in large utilities mobile workers may be specialized.
Mobile field workers at water utilities need information that is current, optimized for their needs to help them carry out their work and delivered in an easy to use format. Mobile field workers also generate much information that needs to be passed back into the office and managed in enterprise business systems.
The field mobility business patterns includes both work the field crews are performing as well as the processes used in the office to support and manage field crews. There is recognition across the industry that field work is a large part of water utility operating budget and for many utilities there is not enough field crew labor available to meet the needs of the utility. Water utilities are always looking for ways to decrease the time it takes to share information bi-directionally with the field and increase the reliability and accuracy of data coming back from the field. The mobile nature of field crews, the many tasks a field crew may carry out during a given day and the limited exposure by some field personnel to technology present a challenge to utilities that need to reduce field operations costs and increase efficiency.
Water utility field staff are among the most map centric people you will encounter. They think of their work world in terms of map book sheets. So for GIS, the Field Mobility business pattern is about providing water utility field crews with maps and map centric applications that can be rapidly updated and are easy to use. GIS also supports the Field Mobility business pattern by enabling field crews to capture GIS data in the field and efficiently pass it back into the office.
Some utilities choose to create paper or electronic field maps books out of their GIS. Other utilities are deploying mobile GIS applications for field crews that act as an interactive version of the traditional utility map book and also provide decision support and data capture tools. Whether delivering paper maps or interactive mapping applications to the field, GIS is supporting the needs of utility field workers as well as those in the office that need to share information with the field.
Talk to a manager or executive director at a utility about their information needs and most often they will say something along the lines of “I need to know what is happing around the entire utility at any given time”. They need to be operationally aware.
The Operational Awareness business pattern is about having an understanding of the current state of operations at a water utility, so this is a real time or near real time understanding of how assets, utility networks and personnel are performing and how they are affecting each other. Being operationally aware empowers water utility managers to confidently make decisions based on accurate and up to date information.
GIS supports utility operational awareness by enabling utilities to have a web map based view into the current state of operations. We’ve heard over and over from water utility managers that a map based view into their organization is the easiest way for them to understand at a glance what is currently happening at their utility. An interactive map is also an easy way for utilities to take information from multiple business systems and present it through a common application.
What do water utility managers want on their interactive maps? Most want their utility networks overlaid with locations of recent callers, new service requests, open workorders, out of service customers, crew locations, limited SCADA information, recent sewer over flows, planned capital projects, etc. They would also like to be presented with KPIs and metrics derived spatially, utilize heat maps to spot trends, be able to see historic operational data on demand and be able to zoom far enough in to see all of their utility assets in detail as necessary.
Thinking about data that utility managers need to be operationally aware brings about an important point. Much of that data comes from other enterprise business systems used at utilities and can be spatially enabled by a GIS so it is placed on the map.
Water utilities have many external stakeholders such as customers, elected officials, regulatory agencies, other utilities in their service area, etc. The Stakeholder Engagement business pattern encapsulates how utilities interact with external entities that are affected by the utility.
Across the industry, the trend is for water utilities to more proactively engage with stakeholders through public outreach programs, providing more transparency while delivering information in a way that minimizes the possibility of misinterpretation. Modern water utilities recognize they need to utilize the internet and social media to communicate with their stakeholders. Presenting up to date information via interactive maps is a powerful medium to communicate with the technology savvy stakeholder.
Utilities use GIS to support Stakeholder Engagement by creating and delivering static and interactive maps. For years GIS has been used by utilities to make maps that were submitted either electronically or as a hardcopy for regulatory agencies. Utilities have also used GIS to make static maps available as an image file or PDFs on their websites. Now utilities are creating public facing web mapping applications for their stakeholders to support things like customer self service, capital project coordination, service interruption incident management and transparency into utility performance.
We hope that you’ve found this exploration of how a pattern based framework for how GIS supports the needs of water utility useful. As always, if you have any comments on this blog please share them.
I’d like to start off by thanking each one of you who attended the Enterprise Architecture SIG at this year’s Esri User Conference and hope that you found the session valuable. Many people approached us and commented on how they liked the new format. Additionally, I believe everyone was happy with the full breakfast that was provided by IBM, as it got everyone energized for the day. Thanks again to IBM for their sponsorship of the SIG.
As far as the table talk discussions, it was great to see communication and collaboration of ideas focused around various enterprise topics. Summary of the discussions are as follows:
- How to effectively collect user requirements in support of application development.
- Challenges in gaining acceptance and participation in the design for workflow centric applications.
- While UI prototypes risk influencing functional requirements, they were found beneficial overall in helping build better application requirements.
- Iterative approaches (waterfall, spiral, agile, etc) to application design were favored for many reasons and both economic (results can be demonstrated in a shorter period of time, securing funding), and regulatory (some organizations require 120 day milestone intervals).
- Adapting a design focused around specific workflows and business processes as opposed to a design that merely provides general tools.
- Challenges in shifting from the “ArcIMS Kitchen Sink” style apps to workflow focused ArcGIS Server apps.
- Common definition for cloud computing –the simple “computing on demand” prevailed.
- Concerns/issues with SLAs (Service Level Agreements), costs and the economies of scale, security and privacy.
- Implementation approaches of private, public and hybrid cloud computing.
- Expect a brief whitepaper addressing geospatial cloud computing security over the next several months.
- Value of SOAP vs. REST and acknowledgement that most new, single organization projects are using a REST-based approach as opposed to SOAP-based approach.
- GIS community is just starting to realize the importance of OGC WFS-T for web editing.
- Users were glad to see the new changes to ArcCatalog at version 10 for metadata.
- Numerous issues and challenges include: data quality, data model determination and use, de-normalizing indexes to match workflow/transactions and data warehousing.
- Advanced planning (specifically around architecture) and education were keys to success.
- Organizations exchanged information about current relevant architectural guidance materials.
- Suggestions made for “How do you share data (securely) with the field?”
- Suggestions made for “How can you be secure while still being productive?”
- Esri was asked to provide list of security applications that their software was compatible with to assist in the execution of security certification process.
- We need additional input from users about how this would look. A list of security products used successfully by other customers, but not guaranteeing compatibility?
- Esri was asked to provide deployment plans with attention paid to security issues / concerns / suggestions.
- We hope to expand on our security patterns with additional deployment guidance along with security and performance validation.
- Large size implementations discussed how to best address uptime requirements
- We hope to add a Deployment patterns area to the ERC over the next several months that addresses availability requirements and scaling components.
- Moderate size implementations disussed lower-level details, such as “How does SQL Server work most efficiently with ArcGIS Server”
- How to properly scale servers when upgrading from ArcIMS to ArcGIS Server? With the release of optimized map services based on the new .msd format, performance differences were not observed as frequently.
- How to best account for performance decreases when utilizing virtual machines?
- Should I run my Esri technology in a virtualized environment or not?
- A great case study was provided by one user, who discussed in detail their successes with running Esri technologies in virtualized environments.
- Choosing the right virtualized environment depends heavily on the organization’s broader IT strategy, perceived benefits, and the features included in the virtualization solutions.
- Business continuity, rapid application development, and simplified server provisioning are more important advantages of virtualization than performance.
- Esri supports and uses virtualization technologies for the development, quality assurance, and certification processes for many of its products.
Once again, thank you all for your participation in the UC2010 Enterprise SIG and making it a success. As we move forward and try to grow community interested in Enterprise Architecture look for more information and announcements through blog postings on this site as well as informative content on the Enterprise Resource Center (ERC). Feel free to download the EA SIG Presentation slides as we will be adding a new Presentation section to the ERC over the next several weeks.
We’ve added a cloud computing security section to the Enterprise Security presentation scheduled for Tuesday at 3:15pm in Room 32B. The session will still cover security across the enterprise, but has been expanded to address this key subject. Please provide feedback on the presentation as it will be incorporated into a cloud security whitepaper we plan on releasing later this year! Some cloud computing items to be addressed include:
- Understanding the security benefits and risks
- Secure deployment best practices
- Minimizing your cloud attack surface
- Single-sign-on integration
- ESRI product specific guidance and resources
See you there!
We are very excited about forming a stronger Enterprise User Community through the Enterprise Architecture Special Interest Group (SIG) at this year’s ESRI International User Conference. In an effort to enhance effective communication of information and collaboration around topics of interest, we are changing the format of the SIG. The first thing you will notice is that we have arranged tables in a “Birds of a Feather” format to facilitate communication amongst ArcGIS users, business partners and ESRI employees around key Enterprise topics such as:
- Cloud Computing
- Enterprise Integration
- Performance & Scalability
- EA Methodologies
- Application Development Patterns
As you enter the room, please seat yourself at a table whose topic interests you the most. Once everyone is seated, we will kick things off with a set of “lightening talks” focused on key items relevant to enterprise-thinking customers such as new resources, technology deployment options, and key technology changes. At the conclusion of the “lightening talks”, we will then open the floor to all of you, to discuss amongst yourselves at your respective tables, the following based upon your table’s topic (e.g. Virtualization, Cloud Computing, etc.):
– Lessons learned
- Areas ESRI may be able to provide additional guidance
- Biggest roadblocks/issues
- Where people are at in deployment/usage (Learning, implementing, fully integrated)
Table discussions will then be brought to close and Fred Collins from IBM will present information on Geospatial Cloud Computing. After Fred’s presentation, key points from the table topic discussions will be shared with the room leading to additional discussions on the Enterprise Resource Center (ERC) and inviting feedback. This is an exciting opportunity for all of us to learn from each other!
Last year’s breakfast SIG was a great success so the SIG will be bright and early again with the addition of a full breakfast including eggs, bacon, hash browns and much more – Yum! Thanks again to IBM for sponsorship of this SIG.
?Open to all UC Attendees
?Wed, Jul 14, 7:30AM – 8:15AM
Location (Same as last year)
EA SIG coordinators (Feel free to contact us with questions/suggestions)
?Andrew Hendrickson – Solution Architect – AHendrickson@esri.com
?Dave Wrazien – Solution Architect – DWrazien@esri.com ????????????
?Michael Young – Sr. Enterprise Security Architect – MYoung@esri.com
One of my favorite topics of discussion is the relationship between GIS and enterprise asset management and in particular Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) Systems. This discussion happens with increasing regularity as most water utilities now have multiple computerized systems that store information about their assets and GIS is part of their system of record for asset information.
Breaking down silos of information
If you think about it, for years utilities have had pieces of information about their assets in multiple places. For example paper as-builts (or perhaps even linens or mylars) describing what was constructed (or should have been constructed), maybe old project records with financial information that describe what it cost to put assets into operation, in other places paper work orders that described the level of effort to keep assets functioning. You could rightfully call these silos of information – they all may be describing the same asset, with different primary pieces of information (and most likely some overlapping and contradictory information) and perhaps at different times in an asset’s life-cycle. There was no interconnection between these information sources and often no senses of which was one was more correct or authoritative.
We’ve now moved into an era where most utilities have taken advantage of information technology (in some form) to store and maintain their information. Instead of manual drafted paper maps utilities use GIS, instead of handwritten ledgers to track payments utilities use billing systems, etc. Common IT systems used at water utilities are billing, financial, workorder (CMMS), GIS, SCADA, CIS, LIMS, etc.
Utilities still have pieces of information about their assets in multiple systems, but now they are computerized systems. This means it’s still possible to have different descriptive information about an assets, costs associated with an asset, performance of an asset (perhaps describe by SCADA data or indicated by customer complaints) in multiple systems and that data may conflict. So it continues to be a struggle for many utilities that still have to go to multiple systems to get a complete understand of their assets and it may also be a struggle to know what is authoritative information when data in multiple systems conflict.
Some utilities are overcoming these challenges by specifying how their enterprise IT systems must work together. This often takes the form of identifying where data is at a utility, how it’s maintained and then determining how systems should integrate with each other to share information and what systems are the “system of record” meaning they own the data. It’s important to note that you may have multiple systems working together (properly integrated) that form your system of record. So the “system of record” determination may happen on a field by field basis.
Enterprise Asset Management
The interesting thing about enterprise asset management is that it’s both a concept and now the name of a class of software commonly used at utilities and facilities. A few years ago a trend started in the utility and facility industry where vendors of workorder and CMMS (computerized maintenance management systems) began to refer to themselves as “Enterprise Asset Management Systems”, reflecting that the systems that create workorders and manage maintenance tasks (both planned and unplanned) rightfully should participate in the enterprise IT environment. But this has also added to a lot of confusion about how assets are really stored and managed in the enterprise IT environment at most utilities. While now called EAM systems, workorders and maintenance tasks are only part of what a utility needs to truly manage their assets.
From our experience with large water and sewer utilizes, enterprise asset management is something that is only achievable with multiple systems at a utility that are properly integrated. After speaking with many utilities big and small, it seems like what utilities want for enterprise asset management is the use of integrated information from multiple systems to enable a utility to best manage their assets. It’s the best data from each system to describe what an asset is, how it affects others related things (customers, service levels, other assets in your network), what its condition is, maintenance history, cost to build, cost to maintain, criticality, etc. That data should be maintained in a way that it’s created or maintained one time and then stored in the appropriate system in a way that’s transparent to users. So enterprise asset management as a concept is really the ability to access and use the right pieces of information (and that information needs to be descriptively and temporally accurate and authoritative) from enterprise IT systems at a water utility.
GIS, Enterprise Asset Management and EAM Systems
So how does GIS play a role in enterprise asset management? Spatial location is typically the one common aspect among all of the data at a water utility. We can understand the relationship between customers and distribution or collection system assets by their spatial location and interconnection. A map is often the easiest way for humans to aggregate many sources of data together to visualize them all and understand how they affect each other. When we spatially enable our utility data we can then use the analytical power of GIS to gain a better understanding of how our assets are performing and how they affect our level of service and our customers. From years of working with utilities, we’ve seen GIS consistently be the gateway where large amounts of asset data enter a utility and where its basic characteristics (location, size, installation date, material, etc) is maintained. So maps from GIS are the place to visualize, analyze and explore many pieces of asset related data and also enable you to propose ways to manage your assets better (maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement) and understand the impact.
Interestingly, when you look at how modern EAM systems (workorder & CMMS) are implemented at water utilities, they almost always have a GIS integration component that includes a toolbar in desktop GIS to keep assets in sync between the GIS and the EAM and also uses server based GIS to give a spatial view of assets and workorders to utility staff that are dispatching and managing workorders. So the way EAM systems are integrated with GIS underscores the concept that enterprise asset management is about utilizing the best information from each system that stores data about assets.
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