Tag: costing tools

Introducing the Cost Analysis Widget in Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS


Ever wanted to use a web app to sketch in new infrastructure assets and automatically estimate the cost?  Then you’re in luck, because that’s what the Cost Analysis widget available in Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS helps you do! Today Cost … Continue reading

Posted in ArcGIS Online, Electric & Gas, Local Government, Portal for ArcGIS, Water Utilities, Web | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Benefits of Capital Improvement Planning with GIS Webcast

Date:  Tuesday, January 12, 2010   
Location:  ESRI Seminar on the web    
Time  1:00 PM – 2:00 PM  EST

Water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities are encouraged to join us for a free webinar exploring the new, freely available ArcGIS Water Distribution Capital Planning (CIP) Template.

See the New Water Distribution CIP Planning Template in Action

Learn how you can implement this free, downloadable template by watching a demonstration of the template as part of a typical water utility workflow. You’ll see how to use and customize geoprocessing models to gain better insight into how your water network is performing and what assets you should consider replacing or rehabilitating. You’ll also see how you can use your existing GIS data to estimate CIP project costs and cost out main extensions.

Learn About the ESRI Water Utility Resource Center.

Whatever your GIS experience, you’ll want to know how to download and leverage our free templates including the recently released CIP template. Plus, hear how to share knowledge with your peers and ESRI’s Water Team.

Find Out How Water Utilities Benefit from Using GIS in CIP

Discover the benefits of GIS-supported decision making for CIP and geodesign for project costing.

Get Your Questions Answered

The ESRI team that created the CIP template will answer your questions on how you can modify and customize the template to fit your utility’s needs.


Register – http://events.esri.com/info/index.cfm?fuseaction=showSeminar&shownumber=13106

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The Evolution of the Water Distribution Capital Improvement Planning Template

As you may have seen, we released the Water Distribution Capital Improvement Planning (CIP) Template  a last week.  First, we wanted to say a big thank you to all of our users and business partners who helped us to refine the initial geoprocessing models and the toolset also shared their workflows for capital planning.   

We’ve already had a few questions about why we chose the term Capital Improvement Planning (CIP) to describe this template, since not all utilities use that term.  So when we use the term CIP, what we mean is the long term plans of a utility to manage their assets and/or to expand their system, what you may also call a “Capital Plan”, “Long Term Plan” or “5 year plan”.

Personally, I think the CIP Template is great example of how ESRI listens to our water utility customers and responds to their needs.  We’ve had numerous customers over the past few years tell us that they want to be able to leverage their asset data in GIS as well as their operational data (workorders, CIS, water quality) better to support their long term plans.  Of course, we thought that giving our customers a geographic view of all that asset and operational data was the best place for them to start.  We also heard from many of our water and wastewater customers that their long term planning has evolved from an occasional event to a continual process; because of funding issues, grant availability, coincidence with other projects that a utility could share costs with and the desire to be quick and proactive to eliminate the risk of future critical asset failures.

Also, we are excited, because the CIP template is great example of GeoDesign.  We’ll be doing a blog shortly that explores the principals of GeoDesign and relates them back to the CIP template.

2 Parts of the CIP Workflow

As we dug into the CIP process, we observed 2 distinct, but related workflows happening.  The first part of the workflow was to assemble data from many sources and analyze that data to look for where projects are needed.  This part of the process is tailor made for the benefits of GIS – to use GIS as the place where different types of data are assembled together into a common view and also to use the analytical capabilities of GIS to gain better insight into the aggregated data.  Because this analysis needs to be iterative (looking at multiple data layers with different weighted criteria), an auditable process (you have to be able to defend your findings to a PUC and your ratepayers) and an automated workflow (to save time, money and resources) this is a perfect match for Geoprocessing Models in ArcGIS.

GIS Analysis for CIP Decision Making

At first we took the approach that ESRI should try and build a few geoprocessing models that all water and wastewater utilities could use to score and rate their assets by estimated remaining asset life, condition or criticality.  We figured that we could do some research, interview some of our users and figure out these geoprocessing models (our inner geography geek begged us to take this approach first).  What we quickly realized was that there isn’t a silver bullet set of geoprocessing models we could build because every utility system has their own approach to long term asset management and their own priorities (KPIs, level of service they want to provide, hot button issues, fiscal condition, etc) that drive their long term planning. 

This was also a great reminder that even though we have the ability to use technology to automate a process, the human element is still critical, meaning that the more we talked with the engineers who are creating these CIP plans, the more we realized they need a better way to manipulate and process data so they could apply their engineering expertise to make decisions about capital projects.  We also noticed when talking to engineers doing capital planning, that while they were somewhat aware of the analytical capabilities of GIS, they weren’t aware of the geoprocessing framework core to ArcGIS and how to use ModelBuilder to automate analysis and create a reusable toolset. 

So we decided that we need to focus our CIP template on showing the water utility community how they could benefit from automating spatial analysis with the ArcGIS geoprocessing framework by providing some generic models.  So, please keep in mind that the intent of the models we’ve provided in the CIP template is to show you how geoprocessing and ModelBuilder work within ArcGIS so you can create geoprocessing models that reflect how your utility wants to manage assets and plan for the long term.  Incidentally, if you want to learn more about GIS analysis, Geoprocessing or Model Builder within ArcGIS, ESRI has lots of great resource including on-line training, books and class room instruction.

Estimating Project Costs

The second part of the CIP workflow we observed was estimating CIP project costs.  Basically this workflow was estimating the cost of a project based on either replacing existing infrastructure or adding new infrastructure (main extensions, interconnections, extending service to new sub-divisions, etc).  It’s important to note that all of the functionality in this part of the CIP process is core to ArcGIS and the geodatabase, all we’ve done is customized the application to automate and simplify this part of the workflow.  This is what we decided to call the Costing Estimating Tools.

The first step in estimating project costs is to create projects by grouping assets together into projects.  In this part of the process you are visualizing the data you brought into GIS and also the results of your analysis and then determining what assets you want to include in a project, your rehab or replacement strategy for those assets  and then saving that information.  So you are literally visualizing data in GIS (most likely working with many data layers of data, including the same feature datasets symbolized different ways) and doing some spatial and attribute queries to come up with candidate assets to include in CIP projects.

From there, assets that are in need of replacement or rehabilitation and spatially close to together are grouped in projects.  We’ve heard from many water utilities that without a spatial context it was a real challenge for them to group assets together into appropriate projects without and also it was a challenge for them to track and manage information about candidate assets for CIP projects throughout the CIP planning process.  Water utilities were struggling with supporting their CIP process with paper maps and tracking assets that were part of a project, including costs to replace those assets, in spreadsheets. 

So traditionally, this CIP process took a lot of staff time and also lead to uncertainty about whether utilities were actually spending their money on the most appropriate capital projects.  We also heard that utilities were struggling with how to update data when they tried to refine a large candidate list of CIP projects down to just a few to carry forward into design and that it was next to impossible to look at multiple scenarios for the same project area (assets grouping and rehab or replacement approach) because so much of this process was manual or spreadsheet driven.

We took the approach that if a utility has their assets (water distribution, wastewater collection or stormwater) in GIS, they should use their GIS asset data to group into CIP projects and then to store information about the CIP projects (like the extent and also all of the assets that are part of the project) as new data layers in GIS.  This enables a utility to create an authoritative source of data about their proposed capital projects in GIS.   So this drove us to create the Cost Estimating Tools. 

As we began to demonstrate early versions of the Cost Estimating Tools to our utility users, we got a lot of great feedback that helped us to refine the tools.  We were told that to be really useful, the tools should include the ability to either rehab or replace existing assets and to extend mains, so we programmed that functionality into the tools.  We also were told by our users that they needed to be able to compare the costs of different replacement strategies (open cut, trenchless, etc) for the same set of assets so we designed the tools to make it easy to compare the costs of use using different rehab methodologies.  Also we knew that the costing element of the tools needed to be flexible, because individual utilities favor different pipe materials which can be set as defaults and that unit costs are often specific to a utility and those can be easily configured in a simple table.

So what we wanted to do with this blog was to explain how we arrived at version 1 of the Water Distribution CIP Template.  We are very interested in your feedback so we can incorporate more useful changes in version 2.  Also we’d like to hear about any geoprocessing models that you would like to use for CIP planning.  So, please leave us feedback here – http://forums.esri.com/forums.asp?c=55&s=426#426

In the next few weeks we’ll be recording a video of the Water Distributions CIP Template in action and we are also going to do a webcast in December that takes a deep dive into the CIP Template.

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CIP Template Released

If you have been following us on twitter, you already know that we released the ArcGIS Water Distribution Capital Planning template (we are calling this the CIP Template for short) yesterday.  The CIP template includes a set of models to help you understand how to you can use GIS to score and rank your infrastructure and a set of tools to provide cost estimates for rehabilitating, replacing or building new infrastructure. 


We will film a video at the end of October that shows you in detail how these tools work, and we’ll be doing a live webcast in December to explore the CIP template in depth. So in the mean time, below is a little help with the CIP Template.



                We included 6 models that show different ways you can analyze your data.  To run these models, you will need to create a temporary file geodatabase and set the environmental variables for each model.  The two variables you need to set are Current Workspace (the folder that has the CapitalPlanning.gdb in it) and the Scratch Workspace (the folder that has the temporary File GDB you just created). 



                The Project Cost Estimating tools use three tables in the CapitalPlanning.gdb for configuration.  These tables are shipped to work with the data in the Sample.gdb.  If you want to start changing cost or the configuration, you will need to change these tables.

                CIPDEFINITON – This tables defines which featureclass’s to cost, the fields to look at(such as Diameter and Material) and a few other parameters.

                CIPCOST – This table defines the cost for a particular asset.  When costing an asset, you can define a Strategy, like Replacement or Rehabilitate, then an action for that Strategy, like Open cut for a Replacement .  For each Strategy and Action, then you define the cost based on the fields you set up in the definition table.  So if you are looking at wMains as a layer, you are interested in the Field’s, Diameter and Material, you would select your Strategy, the Action for that Strategy, the Material(say PVC), then Diameter(say 12) and define a cost for what each foot would cost.  So by using a Strategy, Action and two filter fields, you can provide very detailed cost estimates.

                CIPREPLACEMENT – This table allows you to provide lookups for replacement.  If you are going to replace a 6” DI, you may have a rule saying that each 6” DI is going to be replaced with a 8” PVC.  This table allows you to define this replacement.  So that costing is preformed an 8” PVC, not a 6” DI.


Since this is our initial release of the CIP Template, we want your feedback.  So please post any questions or feedback to our forums under the Water Utilities Template section: http://forums.esri.com/forums.asp?c=55

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Our Fall Plans

Summer is winding down, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to report on a few things we spent our summer working on and some things you’ll see in the fall.

First, you can now follow us on Twitter at ESRITeamWater – we’ll be providing updates via twitter about our activities, information for our water, wastewater and stormwater customers and also when we’ve posted updates to the resource center.

And we have quite a few updates on the way….

Costing Tools

Those of you who were lucky enough to attend the UC in July, you saw us present our “costing tools” for ArcGIS Desktop.  We are now doing some final code revisions and documentation and will be posting this new template to the resource center in the next few weeks.

For those that haven’t seen the costing tools yet, they are a set of desktop tools designed to help you cost out capital improvement projects or really cost out any type of project with GIS.  The concept is that you can either choose assets that are in your GIS and select them for replacement and the tools will look up against a cost table to determine the replacement costs.  The cost table is fully customizable and you can do some things like have default replacement types for materials – for example if you always replace transite pipes with ductile iron, than that will be pipe type used for your replacement project and that will drive your replacement costs.  Also you can choose to add or extend mains or pipes to get costs for water main extension or sewer expansion projects.    

We’ll also be providing some geoprocessing models to help you make system rehab and expansion decisions.  We’ve had a lot of discussions with water and wastewater utilities about how to make some generic models to assist in condition assessment and decided that it would be more impactful if we created some models that showed you how you can use GIS and geoprocessing to make rehab decisions.  Than you can customize the models for your utility’s information, workflows & asset rehab priorities.

To be fair, the costing tools are more of generic toolset and you’ll also see the costing tools as a template for pavement management on the soon to be launched ESRI Public Works Resource Center.  So if you are looking for an end-to-end solution for condition & risk assessment that leverages your investment in GIS data, we suggest you check out some ESRI business partner solutions such as CapPlan from MWH Soft or MRP from Advantica.

Editing Template Update

As you may have heard, we are also working on an update to the editing template that will expand the editing toolbar for both water and wastewater.

Wastewater Focus

Over the next few months you’ll see us begin to add more wastewater information and templates to the Water Resource Center.  So, while decided to start with water (hey, you have to start somewhere) we are going to add more content for wastewater and stormwater.

Water & Wastewater Utility Training Plan

We are wrapping up a GIS training plan specifically for our water and wastewater customers.  The intent of the training plan is to give water utilities a tool to help them make training decisions by recommending GIS training courses by both typical staff roles within a utility (mapping technician, engineer, DBA, etc) as well as buy department (IT, planning, operatins) .  So for example, we can help recommend training course for engineers that want to use GIS for lightweight analysis and ad hoc mapping or for folks in the IT department who need a better understanding of how GIS fits into their enterprise.

The training plan is designed to be customized for specific utilities.  So you can work with an ESRI training consultant to identify what your organizational and GIS goals are and then based on the size of your utility we can recommend training options.  And the training plan will be free of charge!

Public Works Resource Center

We’ll be launching a Public Works resource center soon that will compliment the Water Resource Center.  So you can go to the public works resource center for information about managing pavement, street furniture, signs, facilities, snow plow routing, solid waste pickup, etc and use the Water Resource Center for information about GIS for water, wastewater and stormwater.

Your feedback

As always, your feedback guides much of our future plans.  So if you’d like to make suggestion please email us at ArcGISTeamWater@esri.com, post a comment to this blog or use the water/wastewater discussion forums.

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