Tag: Content Sharing
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Esri’s Living Atlas of the World provides an amazing source of information for you to create maps and mashups, publish apps, and perform geographic analysis. Most of the layers in the Atlas are free to use, but some high-quality layers published by Esri’s … Continue reading
Another successful User Conference is behind us. This year conference attendees were introduced to the Living Atlas of the World. The Living Atlas combines reference and thematic maps with topics relating to people, earth, and life. It is a collection … Continue reading
If you haven’t had the opportunity to explore the recently launched ArcGIS.com I wanted to bring to your attention some of the benefits it has to offer to water, wastewater and stormwater utilities. I also wanted to urge those of you have either public facing web or mobile applications or have published services to register them with ArcGIS.com.
Building the Online Community for Water Utility GIS
We are frequently asked by water utilities how they can engage with ESRI and the broader water utility GIS community. These discussions often include how to begin sharing or better share GIS information (interchange, consume or publish) with other entities using GIS within a utility’s service area such as local government, state government, other utilities, environmental groups, etc.
ESRI has always had a strong water/wastewater GIS community that has in person meetings and collaborates on things like best practice and datamodels. For years we’ve had discussion forums on our website where you can share thoughts and ask questions to the user community (If you haven’t been to the forums lately take a look, we recently upgraded the forum functionality).
Last year we launched the Water Utility Resource Center which is focused on formally sharing best practices within the community.
Now we’ve launched ArcGIS.com, which enables water utilities to better share information with organizations in your service areas, utility stakeholders and with the broader GIS community.
Here are a few ways that water utilities can benefit from ArcGIS.com
You can search for web content such as map services, web GIS applications, mobile GIS applications and user groups as well as data that has been uploaded and shared by individual users.
For example, if your utility serves the Philadelphia area you can use Philadelphia as a key word to search for Web Content. Doing so returns a list of application and maps that other users have registered with ArcGIS.com. The 2nd entry in this list is a detailed basemap service of the City of Philadelphia that you could use as a basemap in ArcGIS Desktop or a web mapping application published from ArcGIS Server.
Making a Map
You can make maps with ArcGIS.com using either content you’ve published or content you’ve found. For example here I’m adding an internally published web mapping service of water and sewer workorders published with a basemap on ArcGIS.com.
And now I have web application that’s ready to use with my workorder locations on top of the ArcGIS.com basemap.
ArcGIS.com enables water utilities to share GIS content and applications. For example I can share files such as layer packages or map documents, web mapping services, web mapping applications and ArcGIS Mobile Applications.
Files can be shared with the public or with groups. A group is an effective way of sharing your content with limited numbers of people that you control. For example you could set up a group to share a layer file of proposed capital projects with the GIS managers at other utilities and local government in your service area.
Web mapping services you add to ArcGIS.com can be discovered and used by other organizations to create web mapping mash ups or used in ArcGIS Desktop. So if you’ve published a map service of your capital projects than other organizations in your service area can mash up that service in their web applications.
You can add web mapping and mobile GIS applications, making them easily discoverable for those who would benefit from using the applications, such as when you want to gather volunteered geographic information from the general public. Adding your applications to ArcGIS.com showcases the good work you are doing to the broader water utility community and can helps make GIS more visible at your utility.
Help Build the Community
Since ArcGIS.com is truly a tool for the water utility user community we’d like to ask those of you who have content that can be shared to spend a few minutes (that’s all it takes) sharing it on ArcGIS.com so we can all collectively benefit.
We just posted two more updated templates, The Water Utilities Operations Dashboard and the Water Utilities Customer Interaction(formerly Citizen Service) template. You may have noticed we changed the names of the templates slightly. We switched to Water Utilities because these templates now cover more than just the Water Distribution network.
In the new version of the dashboard, you will find an updated basemap document with improved cartography. All the operational map documents have been updated to include layers for sewer and stormwater. You will also see a new set of widgets, some configured for the new data and some that were included in the most recent release of the sample flex viewer. Take some time and explore the new widgets and give us your feedback. We’re really happy about how user feedback is shaping this template into a true utility dashboard.
The Citizen Service template, now called the Customer Interaction template, underwent a big overhaul. The first release of this template was focused on getting information from the public. In this release, we wanted to expand how and what information can be captured. In the submit request web page, you can now overlay a map service from your utility. A user can click on an asset in that service and use the selected asset to power the request. The selected assets ID is silently submitted with the request, allowing you better identify the asset the request is tied to.
Not only did we want to provide a better way of capturing information, but we wanted to help you share information with your customers. There is a new web page allowing you to do just that. You can list any layers that you want to share with the public in the configuration file. We included two different configurations of this web page with the template. One that share main breaks, out of service hydrants and location of capital projects, the other is used to share boil water notices. The web page can also be used to summarize information by area and then display that to the public, so you can give the public a high level view of information by an operating district or administrative area. As they look closer, the overview will fade away and have access to the detailed feature locations.
Again, we are very happy and pleased with being able to roll out these enhancements. Which, came from all of you. So, please let us know what you like, do not like, what enhancement requests you may have, etc. You feedback drives the development of these. Thanks
It’s seems like right now, the idea of capital project coordination between utilities and other government entities has reached critical mass. Whether faced with budgetary problems due to the economy, the need to do a significant amount of capital projects now (or both) recently we’ve had a lot of ESRI customers asking us how they can use GIS to coordinate their capital projects better and what information about future projects they should share with other utilities and municipalities in their operating areas.
Since water and wastewater utilities are in the same right of way with other public utilities such as electric, gas and telco and also are typically under the pavement owned by other municipal entities, departments of transportation or highway agencies a little coordination yields big cost savings. We see this capital project coordination happing between departments, such as between a city’s wastewater and streets departments and also between utilities and external entities such as between a water utility and gas utility.
For example if you can coordinate your work with other utilities when a street is opened you can split the restorations costs. Jurisdictions your utility operates in may also have street paving moratoriums, for example they may prohibit streets to be opened until 2 years after they have been paved, so in this scenario you need to know what streets are being paved in the next few years so you can complete any project work in those areas ahead of the schedule paving.
Capital Project Coordination with GIS
So how can you use GIS to coordinate capital projects?
Capital Project Aggregation
Even before GIS, many water and wastewater utilities tried to gather the capital project locations of other utilities and municipalities in their service area. This was often a time consuming process, with multiple requests for information and paper document submittals that the water utility needed to aggregate into a big picture view of capital projects in their service area. With GIS, many water utilities started to input capital project locations from other utilities as GIS layers. This still required a great deal of digitizing effort to create project polygons and even if you had the location of future projects in your service area you may not have had good descriptive information. Maybe if you were lucky, the other utilities in your service area also use GIS and are were able to provide shapefiles or geodatabases of project locations.
We’ve seen some utilities work as “consortium” to coordinate their capital projects with web based map viewers. For example some utilities aggregate capital projects from municipalities and other utilities in their operational area and then provide free access to a web based mapping application for all of the entities that provided project information. Other utilities have created web mapping application where local utilities and municipalities can edit their project footprints and enter basic project information. Setting up a website with security where utilities can enter project locations on a basemap is very easy with the web editing capabilities of ArcGIS Server. The drawback to this consortium approach is that it takes someone to have the infrastructure to host and manage a web based application and the other utilities have to submit data or enter it.
An easier way to share capital improvement project locations for utilities with ArcGIS Server is to publish a map service of project locations. This is easier because if a utility keeps all of their project locations in a centralized enterprise geodatabase than a published map service of project locations will always be up to date. The project location map service could be used both internally at the utility and externally and could be consumed in a variety of applications like other ArcGIS Server applications, ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Explorer, in AutoCAD with ArcGIS for AutoCAD or in Google Earth as KML. If you want more information on publishing map services with ArcGIS Server you can find it here: http://webhelp.esri.com/arcgisserver/9.3/dotNet/index.htm#map_service.htm
With the new free content sharing capabilities, ArcGIS online is an excellent option to share project locations. For those that haven’t seen the new content sharing functionality in ArcGIS, with ArcGIS 9.3.1 you can upload your data as layer packages to ArcGIS online and share it with everyone or with a group you designate. So you could create a group of local utilities and municipalities that you want to share project locations with
and you can securely share your project locations with ArcGIS online.
If published a map service of future project locations you could also share that through ArcGIS online with a group, much like a layer package.
We’re very excited about the new content sharing capabilities of ArcGIS online because it’s a great solution for water, wastewater and storm water utilities to securely share their GIS data and maps. It can be used as we outlined above or used to share data with GIS consultants, engineering firms, developers, etc. Best of all, ArcGIS Online content sharing is free!! We plan on doing a more detailed blog in the future that goes into depth on using ArcGIS Online to share your content for project coordination.
In the meantime we encourage you to explore ArcGIS online content sharing for yourself: http://www.arcgisonline.com/
Utility Coordination Data Model
We commonly get asked by water utilities if there is a data model for capital projects. There isn’t an ESRI community data model for capital project coordination, but from discussions with water utilities that are using GIS for internal capital project tracking or for project coordination with other utilities and municipalities, we’ve seen some trends. Most utilities track their projects as a polygon of the project extent and are capturing fairly simple attributes – project name and/or project ID, project start date, project end date, project contact name, project contact information such as phone number or email. We’ve seen utilities begin to track project funding information as an attribute as well, both total project costs, project cost by year for multiyear projects and also funding source information if stimulus money is being used for the project.
For water and sewer main extension or replacement projects most utilities buffer the mains to be replaced by a predetermined distance, like 25 or 50 feet to generate the project footprint.
Some utilities are also using project IDs to link to a project management or tracking system to store extended project information.