Monthly Archives: April 2009

Water Utilities Resource Center and the Geodatabase


As we have highlighted in earlier blog posts the resource centers are a great place for user resources which span the different ArcGIS products and workflows. One interesting aspect to this are the community or industry specific sites. The first such resource center, the Water Utilities Resource Center, has been up for months and will keep getting better as more content is added.

The geodatabase is really the foundation to a sucessful utility implementation. How the Water Utilities Resource Center ties into the geodatabase is probably best highlighted in a series of posts on the Water Utility blog:

Building and Maintaining Water Utility Geodatabases: Part 1Part 2

The videos in the media gallery are another great resource which explain how to leverage some of the work the Water Utilities team has completed. This is just the first of many community specific resource centers which will be added to the Resource Center in the near future.



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Updated 2009/2014 Demographic Data Available in ArcGIS Business Analyst Online

 by Brenda Wolfe

The Demographic and Income Profile and Market Profile reports (Esri’s two most popular reports) have been updated with 2009 estimates and 2014 projections.  Subscribers to ArcGIS Business Analyst Online can access the updated reports via the new beta.

Note: the updated reports are only located in the beta, and not in previous versions of Business Analyst Online. How’s that for incentive to come on over to the new version?

More reports will be coming out in a couple of weeks, but we wanted to give users an early look at the data given the urgency of getting solid information in today’s economy.

If you don’t have a subscription right now, just call 800-292-2224.  They can hook you up.  Mention this blog for a 10% discount on your subscription, by the way.

Once you are logged in, you can find the updated reports are listed on the Get Reports tab.  Just go to ”2009/2014 Reports” from the dropdown in the Get Reports tab as shown here:

For those of you following the beta progress, here are some additional highlights.

- For those of you who like to be in control (and you know who you are), you can now set Preferences using the link in the upper right of Business Analyst Online. 

- Importing of shapefiles is now available. You now have the option to treat multiple polygons within the shapefile as one area or treat them as separate features to analyze.

- You can check your account status under My Account

Check it out and let us know what you think. You can send us feedback here too:

Enjoy the new numbers!

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Adding maps and geographic analysis to

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

Zoom Levels Thumb

This week, the Federal Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board is hosting an online forum looking for input from the Information Technology (IT) community on how can be designed to enhance information access and transparency. Continue reading

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Spatial distribution of students visualized via Explorer

ESRI education manager Joseph Kerski recently explained how he looks at the spatial distribution of class participants in a recent blog post on the GIS Education Community blog. The post explains how Excel spreadsheets are used to map the locations of students using Explorer’s File Import capabilities.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment and the GIS community – your input is encouraged

See the complete post on this topic on the ArcGIS Developer blog.

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GIS & Hydraulic Modeling

Our first few blog posts focused on the Water Resource Templates, specifically how to configure them and get the templates to work with your data.  Aside from sharing technical information we also created this blog to share observations and stories of how Esri customers benefit from GIS and to explore how GIS relates to industry trends in water, wastewater and stormwater.   After all, GIS isn’t just about feature functionality, it’s also about solving business problems.
So let’s start with a common question from our W/WW user community – what is the relationship between GIS and hydraulic modeling?
From our perspective, GIS and hydraulic modeling are related through data and workflows.  Most of the GIS data models that water and wastewater utilities use contain many of the same data items that a hydraulic model requires.  This includes features, geometries and attributes.  For example many water utilities use GIS as their system of record to store features of their water distribution system (pipes, valves, pumps, treatment plant, reservoirs, storage tanks, etc) as well as customers locations and past usage, elevations, etc.  Using the example of geometry data for pipes a typical W/WW GIS has location and elevation, so you know where the pipe is, how long it is, it’s elevation and where it connects to other pipes – necessary for a hydraulic model.  Also the pipe has attributes such as installation date, diameter, and material – all of these items are used for a hydraulic model.  
Beyond using your geodatabase as input data to build a model, GIS and modeling are also related through workflows.  A change to your GIS, such as adding the water assets of a proposed sub-division to your utility’s proposed water distribution feature classes could kick off a hydraulic modeling activity to determine the impact of the new sub-division on the hydraulic performance of your distribution system.  Another example of the workflow relationship is when hydraulic modelers create a model and uncover an error in the underlying GIS data, for example the wrong diameter on a pipe which caused strange modeling results.  The corresponding workflow should be that the hydraulic modeler makes an edit to the GIS data or passes a redline of the error back to GIS data editors.
Some Esri business partner’s hydraulic modeling packages can directly read a geodatabase to start the process of building a hydraulic model.  By selecting a hydraulic modeling solution from an ESRI business partner you will increase your return on investment in ArcGIS software and GIS data.  Some of these partner solutions work directly in ArcMap, which gives you a seamless workflow between GIS and modeling. To find our partners with hydraulic modeling solutions go to and search for Solutions with the keyword “hydraulic”.
Once the model is completed, many utilities bring data from the model back into GIS for visualization and further analysis. For example, in ArcMap you could create a map that shows hydraulic problems in your distribution system overlaid on your water assets along with a layer of proposed capital projects from your CIP. Doing this allows you to understand where you need to address hydraulic deficiencies that are not part of a proposed capital project.  Better yet, you could do some GIS analysis in conjunction with your model results – such as generating a report of customers that have complained about their water service of over the past year and have hydraulic issues upstream of them.
Beyond this general discussion there are additional nuances when integrating GIS with hydraulic modeling. For example – how often do you update your model, how do you keep track of changes to the GIS that would cause a change in the model, the benefits of an all pipe model versus skeletonizing, where do you store data such as pump curves & C factors? ESRI, our water/wastewater user community and a number of our business partners are currently collaborating on a white paper to explore these topics. 
Have any thoughts on GIS and hydraulic modeling? Please comment on this post or send us an email at:  
Posted in Water Utilities | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Using detailed logging with ArcGIS Server 9.3

During the initial releases of ArcGIS Server, many users asked for fine-grained logging down to the layer draw level. This functionality was added to ArcGIS Server 9.3 as a new logging level Info:Detailed. The detailed logging is especially helpful when troubleshooting performance. In this post, we’ll consider the scenario that you have a map service that’s not drawing as fast as you’d like.

Here it’s worth noting that before you go to the logs, it may be easier to catch the problem using the popular mxdperfstat tool from ArcScripts or the “Analyze” button on the 9.3.1 Map Service Publishing Toolbar. As ArcGIS Server 9.3.1 becomes available in the next few weeks, we’ll be posting more information about the Map Service Publishing toolbar and how it can quickly point out areas for improvement in your map document. Version 9.3.1 also includes a faster drawing engine for map services that will help improve performance.

When you need more detail about what’s happening during a map draw, you can go to the log files and enable the new detailed logging. This is the workflow you’d follow:

  1. Set the log level to Info:Detailed. If you need help with this step, see Specifying the log file location (skip steps 3 and 4). While you’re looking at the log properties page, note the path to the log file and browse to the log directory in Windows Explorer so you don’t have to hunt around for the file later.
  2. Make a simple request to your map service by zooming or panning. Note the current time so you can find the request in the log.
  3. Examine the log that was created during your request and note the feature count and elapsed draw time of each layer. For this step sometimes it’s helpful to print the log and use a highlighter to note the draw times. You’ll immediately see which layers are taking the longest to draw. Also, keep an eye on the feature count to spot inefficient layers. A layer may take only 0.2 seconds to draw at a particular extent, but if the extent only included 2 features you may have a potential inefficiency.
  4. Repeat this process at several different locations and scales in your map. You want to make sure you analyze a good sample of the symbology and layers in your map.
  5. When you finish, set the log level back to Normal.

The Help topic Map service log codes contains a table of the codes you’ll see when analyzing the detailed logging. If you scroll down the topic you’ll also find an example of the codes returned from a simple ExportMapImage request like the one that happens when you zoom or pan the map.

To learn more about detailed logging and the different log levels, see How log files work.

Contributed by Sterling Quinn of the ArcGIS Server development team

Posted in Services | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

9.3.1 – Microsoft Virtual Earth Search w/ ArcGIS Business Analyst

by Kyle Watson

Welcome to another installment of “What’s New in ArcGIS Business Analyst 9.3.1″ this time focusing on a great new way to import current data.

In our 9.3.1 desktop release we plan to integrate the Microsoft Virtual Earth Search feature into the main Business Analyst toolbar in ArcGIS.  This marries the traditional, powerful use of a desktop product with increasing popular online services.  As long as you are connected to the web you can search for businesses, competitors, etc. and immediately bring in these locations to the desktop for further analysis.  Other pertinent attributes are returned as well, such as address, business category, customer ratings and phone number.

Here’s a sneak peak.  Let’s say I’m in the gourmet coffee business.  I want to do a proximity analysis on all other coffee shop locations to get an understanding of the competitive landscape.  As shown below I simply type “coffee shops in oklahoma city” into the search box and my results are returned in a sortable preview menu.


Once you’ve selected your desired records, just hit Next.  The results are returned on the map as a layer (shapefile, file geodatabase, etc.)


We are still providing the 12 million+ business locations from infoUSA (and it will be updated for 2009). The Microsoft Virtual Earth Search complements this database and adds flexibility.  Pretty cool?  We think so.  Check back soon for more upcoming features.



Posted in Location Analytics | Leave a comment and the GIS Community – Next Week!

The US economic recovery stimulus plan is underway and is the online vehicle for keeping everything transparent to the public.  This kind of proactive openness from government is refreshing and confidence building.

But transparency works both ways.  Next week (starting April 27th) the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board wants to hear from the IT community.  They want more ideas on how the site can be improved with information technology.

From their site:

“What ideas, tools, and approaches can make a place where all citizens can transparently monitor the expenditure and use of recovery funds?”

The front page suggests you can mark your calendars and “check back for the web link”.

Your know-how

As GIS professionals and developers, we know how this technology can be used to collect, manage, analyze, display, work with, and disseminate spatial information.  We know how to process data, then present it effectively to the user, giving them simple intuitive tools for seeing what they want to see quickly.  

In short, YOU know what can be added to to make it better in these ways.  Jump in and tell them how.  And then vote on the ideas.  Represent your interests and those of the GIS community.


Take the conversation beyond simply web mapping and visualization.  That’s a powerful front-end, but GIS is the engine to help determine what to visualize.  Talk about the need for open standards for interoperability, quality data, geographic analysis, modeling, system architecture, and engaging in geospatial workflows that GIS professionals know so well.  Describe how for decades GIS has been a key part of the strong foundation for open government, transparency, and accountability. 

State and local governments have already started.  Maryland is one example of a state leading the way.

Here are ESRI’s ideas and position on how GIS can best help.  This is what ESRI will be bringing to the conversation.

Business opportunities 

Crisis and need feed creativity and innovation, both powerful traits of Americans throughout history.

As these systems are implemented connecting all levels of government, this work also clearly provides new business opportunities for firms doing GIS, especially developers. 


What a great way to get involved!  Now is the time.  Be heard.



1.  What each state is doing

2.  Facebook Group:  Recovery Dialogue: IT Solutions

3.  Twitter Feed:  @natldialogue    hashtag #RecoveryGIS (new, but let’s start some activity)


- EDN Team


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DevSummit 2009: Post Conference Survey Feedback

Many thanks to the more than 200 attendees who took the time to answer the DevSummit post conference survey. We had a lot of valuable feedback that was both positive and negative for various items at the conference. As for the open-ended questions, we received over 600 unique comments and suggestions. In the end, this feedback will only make next year’s conference even better!


Here are some areas you identified that need improvement:

-          There weren’t enough ArcGIS Desktop/non-Web developer sessions

-          Need more advanced sessions describing how-to’s and lessons learned

-          The level and depth of PreSummit session content needs to be reexamined

-          Try not to cram too much material into the sessions

-          Internet connectivity access could have been better

Some areas that you thought went well:

-          The vast majority of attendees (99.5%) would recommend the DevSummit to a colleague

-          Many positive comments about direct access to development teams and other ESRI staff

-          The Keynote speaker David Chappell was a huge hit

-          The User presentations were very positively received and well attended

-          Networking opportunities with other developers

Since the technical sessions are always one of the most valuable resources at the conference, here’s a graph showing what you said about the value of the session content.




We also we received a lot of positive feedback from developers who weren’t able to attend that benefited from information being tweeted by people at the conference. If you missed it, the Twitter account for the summit is @ESRIDevSummit and the hashtag is #devsummit if you want to continue to follow the before, during or after conversations. So, keep your eyes open for more of this type of activity at future conferences, such as the User Conference in San Diego. 


Thanks again to all who attended, and if you have something additional to share that will benefit the planning for next year please post a comment.


EDN Team



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