We are pleased to announce the availability of Survey123 version 2.0. This releases brings key new features and enhancements. The survey123.arcgis.com web site has been updated. Remember to clear your browser cache to avoid any gotchas. The build number for … Continue reading
The ArcPad team is pleased to announce that ArcPad 10.2.3 is available to download via the My Esri website. The ArcPad 10.2.3 update addresses some important enhancements that improves the utility and stability of ArcPad. Here are some highlights: New … Continue reading
Over the course of this past week we started rolling out updates to the Collector for ArcGIS app and now the Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS as well. The Apps team is happy to announce that these updates are now live and ready for you to start to use!
ArcGIS for Windows Mobile 10.1.1 has been released and its available for download from the Esri Customer Care Portal right now!!
If you use a Windows 7 or 8 device (laptops and tablets) in the field, you will love the enhancements we have made to the ArcGIS application! Plus if you belong to an ArcGIS Online organization then this release will open up new opportunities for you to use your Windows Mobile or Windows devices in the field… Continue reading
By Aileen Buckley, Esri Research Cartographer
In the Making Beautiful Maps session at the 2012 Esri International User Conference, we introduced some special cartographic effects that will add a professional touch to your maps and really help you to get your message across! Stunning cartography coupled with your authoritative content can capture the interest of your map readers and give you the opportunity you need to tell your story. Think you can’t make beautiful maps with GIS? In this session, we showed you how you can! Download a PDF of the presentation we gave to see what was covered in this popular session.
A while ago we ask you to share your stories with the templates. We got some great feedback from our users. So many people are using the data, models, cartography, and sample apps to build and design their system. I ran into GISi at the BPC and found out that not only are users enjoying the templates, but so are our partners. If you are a partner, implementer, integrator and you are using the templates, we are also looking for your experience.
GISi shared a press article with us talking about how they implemented ArcGIS Mobile and the Mobile Map Template in the City of Marietta, GA.
This week and the next, we will be posting updates to the templates on the Water Utilities Resource Center. Our focus was to expand the templates to include data, cartography and examples for sewer and storm water.
The next release of the templates will have an expanded and updated data model. There are now feature dataset for both the Sewer System and Storm Collection System. We have included these datasets in each the of map documents with sample cartography, scale dependency, label expressions, etc.
We also restructure the Operations and Planning datasets. All operational data, whether it be data for the field or the office, is now in the Operations Dataset. This dataset has been expanded to include layers to support typical activities for Sewer and Storm data maintenance. The Planning dataset is now only used to store and manage the reporting layers. We have also included the results from the CIP template, both decision support results and the CIP project areas, in the core information model. We did this so you can see how storing when you store CIP data in your utilities authoritative data repository in GIS, your analytical results and new CIP projects are available for publication to browser based and mobile GIS applications.
Since many public works departments also operate water or wastewater utilities, we’ve decided that the public works resource center and the water utility resource center should use the same sample data when possible. So you’ll also notice in the newer template sample data some public works feature classes like roads and facilities. We wanted to leave this dataset in the download to show how one Geodatabase, a central source of information, can support many different divisions or departments in a municipality and to show that these templates can be easily expanded to support different or other datasets.
At the time of this blog, we have already posted the first two updated templates, the Water Utilities Mobile Map template and the Water Utilities Network Editing template. These templates have been upgraded and improved to handle the changes to the data model mentioned above. You will see new functions and workflows built around the sewer and storm datasets. Below I will highlight some of the new functions in each template.
In the Water Utilities Network Editing Template, you will find many new improvements and enhancements. Most of these changes were a direct result of your requests. First you will notice that we split up the Attribute Assistant and the ArcMap Toolbars into 2 separate installs. This makes it easier for us to make future improvements and roll them out faster and also allows you to install just one of the components. We heard from a few utilities that had built their own editing toolbar previously that they just wanted the attribute assistant.
When you open ArcMap, you will now find two toolbars. We split the tools into reporting/tracing tools and into editing tools. If you want more details, review the release notes, or you can click shift +F1 on top of any of the tools on the toolbar…yes per your suggestions, we included compiled help for each of the tools!!! The new reporting/trace toolbar has commonly used tracing functions. You can perform an upstream trace, downstream trace, or isolation trace, by just the click of your mouse. There is also an option to Export to Excel the selected feature, or load the selected features into the ID Box.
You’ll also have notice a new table, GenerateID, in the GDB in the updated data model. This table is used to support a new option in the Attribute Assistant, GenerateID. This new option allows you to specify a column in the GenerateID table to use as the ID index. Yup, you can generate unique ID right in ArcMap using whatever incrementing scheme you want. The tool uses the value, combines it with a prefix you specified, then increments the table. There are a few more new options in the Attribute Assistant, so check out the release notes and review the help. There is also a link for the help in the start menu, under ArcGIS Templates. Note, Windows 7 does not support .hlp out of the box, please download the fix.
The Water Utilities Mobile Map now shows both the Water dataset, and the sewer and storm data. We added a new component that lets you toggle between the different datasets. So it is easy now to just look at sewer data or water or storm, or turn all three on. This is presented to the field staff as a single, large button that make toggling between them very easy. We also improved the ID layer list. You can now filter which layers are presented to the user for Identification, making it easier to navigate the drop down list. You will also see the list expands when you click it, again, making it easier for the field personal to select a value. This new version also includes a module to show how to record new data, such as inspections, leak locations, service request, etc. This inspection module can linked to a source asset. Say you are doing a fire hydrant inspection. When you tap or click the hydrant, the inspection module copies information from the hydrant to the inspection record. It does this by matching field names. So it can help automate some of the information that needs to be captured, like ID. Lastly, you will see a module for workorders. This is an example of how you can work with a workorder system. This module read a feature class that stores all the work orders, filters them based on the crew name and present them to the field staff. The workorder module is linked to the activity module, so by opening a workorder, it starts an inspection.
We’re very happy with these new releases, but we’re already looking forward to rolling out more enhancements. With the expanded tools, symbology, data schema and workflows into Sewer and Storm, you now have a starting point for all assets at a water department, sewer utility or public works department.
Please keep in mind, these enhancements came directly from your requests and feedback about the templates, so please keep them coming!
ArcGIS Team Water
In the upcoming months, we will try to pull out some key pieces from 9.4 and start discussing how the templates will take advantage of the new functionality and how they will affect the water community. Our first post, we will take a look at ArcGIS Mobile and the Mobile Map Template that was based on this platform.
At 9.3 and 9.3.1, the ArcGIS Mobile platform included a SDK or developer kit and an out of the box application for Windows Mobile 5/6 handheld devices. We used this SDK for the Mobile Map template that you can download from the water resource center. At 9.4, ArcGIS Mobile is also going to include an out of the box tablet based application. This application has been designed for the field personal using a touch base PC. So it is very easy to navigate and interact with. This application is also extendable, so you can use the base application and add extensions that provide custom functions or workflows.
At 9.4, we are going to release a configuration of the Out of the Box ArcGIS Mobile Tablet application with several Add-Ins focused on the field workflows for the water community. The Add-Ins will emulate the functionality in the current Mobile Map Template. They will be starting point to show you how to extend the Out of the Box mobile application to fit into your utilities workflows. The goal is that you will be able to use a core, supported mobile application, and just provide the add-ons to support your needs.
The ArcGIS Mobile framework has many new enhancements that the water community will be able to take advantage of. The most intriguing is the new supported data formats. ArcGIS Mobile now supports both Operational Layers and Basemaps. This means, you can separate the data into two different storage types.
Your operational data is the data that you interact with, so data that you search, identify, and edit. This is your water mains, sewer lines, valves, manholes, catch basins, etc. This operational data is stored in the mobile cache format, which is a representation of your geodatabase. This representation or cache stores the geometry, attributes and symbology. By caching the data on the device, it allows the field personal to work disconnected from the office, but anytime you have a connection to the office, this data can be updated, and changes made in the field can be pushed back to the office.
Your basemap is the data that helps your field personnel orient themselves, locate a particular asset or facility, and it provides a reference for the operational data. In the past, the basemap data was included in the operational data cache and typically has been larger than the operational data. This made managing the cache a lot harder.
At 9.4, the basemap data can be stored or delivered in a number of ways. One way basemap data can be delivered to your field personnel is directly from ArcGIS Server in the form of a tiled map service. This means that none of the basemap data has to be deployed to the device. ArcGIS mobile leverages the internet to retrieve the tiles and displays them for the user. Those tiles are stored on the device for your session, so once they are retrieved, that can be used again and again, until the application shuts down. This can be ArcGIS Online tile map services or map services that your organization authors. The upside here is that only the operational data, or mobile cache, has to be managed on the device. All the basemap data is provided by a map service. That map service can deliver a tremendous amount of information to the user for the area they are working in. Those tiles retrieved for the mobile worker persist for the user’s session, so once a tile is retrieved once, it saved on the device so it can be reused in that session. The downside with this approach is that a data connection is required. So you will want to look at your network coverage in your area and data fees before settling on this approach for your basemap data.
If you do not have a persistent internet connection but want to provide a large amount of basemap information on your mobile devices, there is another option at 9.4 that allows you to deliver content in a compressed format. Those same tiles that ArcGIS server is reading and delivering to the field personnel through the map service, can be copied local to the device and used just like any raster dataset. This allows you to extract out an area of interest at a series of scales and provision the device with this content. If you worked with an ArcGIS Server tiled cache in the past, you know that there can be lots of files that make up the server cache and moving this number of files around can take a long time. ArcGIS 9.4 has a new cache format called compact. This compact cache format bundles up a large number of tiles into one set of files. It significantly reduces the number of files that need to be copied and reduces the amount of disk space required. There are also geoprocessing tools that allow you to extract out a section of the cache. So you can build one large cache, covering your entire service area and pull out sub areas to reduce the amount of data that you would have to deliver to support a field application.
ArcGIS Mobile at 9.4 has many improvements and enhancements, we focused on the application and the data because we see these as important changes that the community will want to take advantage of. The new application and the supported data formats will allow you to deliverer both a better application and better maps to you field users. With an out of the box application that is extendable, you can focus on the workflows for the field personal and simplifying them with custom Add-ins without developing an entire application. The new data formats will allow the field to use better basemaps and reduce the data that needs to be managed on the device.
Many of you have had a chance to test out the Mobile template and provided great feedback. One question that keeps coming up is “How do I interface (or integrate) the mobile map with my other utility systems?” Typically, when we get asked this question, people are referring to their workorder system (also called a CMMS or EAM). Occasionally we are asked about interfacing with a LIMS system, mobile leak detection system, customer information system (CIS), billing system, heck we’ve been asked about interfacing with a utility’s time card system. Hopefully you notice the trend here, that water and wastewater utilities can and do want to “spatially enable” their other business systems because most of these systems contain information that has a location to it, but the other business system can’t store spatial information at all or can’t store it well.
Well, there is one simple easy answer because there are some many types of systems, vendors, API’s, gateways, etc… So I wanted to talk about a few general ways to communicate with other systems and some ideas how to work with other systems. First you need to decide what functions the field crew is going to need. For instance, if you are flushing hydrants, do they need to access to when the hydrant was flushed lasted or every time it was flushed? The reason I would ask this question is the answer is going to help us define how to work with other systems.
Lets start by looking at were to record the inspection or flushing report in the above case. If we are storing our field reports/inspections in the geodatabase, then this is fairly easy process. We can create a feature class with all fields for the hydrant flushing. This is exactly what we did with the template. The user can click the hydrant, copy some relevant information to the hydrant inspection record, such as Asset ID and populated the geometry of the report from either the hydrant or the GPS location of the field crew doing the inspection. The crew can fill out the rest of the information, click save, and use ArcGIS Server to post that information directly back to the Geodatabase. If the user wants access to all historical inspection data, then that information can either be in the same feature class as the new inspections or in a separate one. I would suggest that all historical information been in a separate featureclass. The reason is that the historical inspection or field report data can be very large. You want to manage the update of the devices with this information separately then the newly created field inspections. If all the inspections, both new and old, are in one feature class, then the map may have 100’s of inspections at the same location, may be very confusing for the field crews. The historical inspections never really need to be displayed, they really just need a tool to click the asset and pull up all related information. With the new inspection, once they create it, they then can visually see on the map that they created and save the inspection and are done working with that asset. So in summary, if you are using the GDB as you system of record for assets and their related information, inspections, flushing, etc.., then create a data schema for new data and historical data. This will provide ultimate flexibilty and usability. Just one more note on the above. If you are going to load all your historical inspection information into the geodatabase from another system, then use a process to join your historical, non GIS inspection data, to the geometry of your asset and load this to your historical field inspection data.
Now if you are storing some asset information in another system, like extended asset data in your workorder system, then you have a few ways to interface that data with the mobile map. One way is to use the Geodatabase as your connection to other systems. What I mean is build a backend process to pull out new inspections from the Geodatabase and push them to whatever system you have, and vice versa, use the same process to push information from the other system into the geodatabase. This way you can use ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Mobile to interface with the information in the field. It is much easier to write back end database scripts to move information around then it is to build a process to push out other systems data into a field, in a format that they can access offline, make edits or entries to that information and push it back into the office.
If want to connect to the other system information store directly, without having to move it into the geodatabase, you have two options. You can work with a local copy or cached representation of that other system. This means that a set or all the data from that system will be loaded on the device. The other option is to use a web services approaches or a Enterprise Service Bus(ESB) to directly talk to those other systems.
If you want to work with the other systems directly on the mobile device, then you are going to need to figure out how to get that information on the device you are using and write a module for the mobile app to talk to that data store. ArcGIS Mobile is built with the .Net framework, so it is very easy get your Mobile GIS Information to talk to other data stores. The biggest challenge with this method is figuring out how to get the information on the device, keep it updated and push changes back into the office. Some vendors have ways to do this, some do not. I would suggest talk to your vendor and discuss what options they have. You can also look at using provisioning software that can manage pushing out information to the field and pulling back in. If you have a homegrown system, then you will need to develop a homegrown field version of the data and a synchronization method.
If the above is technical daunting and you want to use web services to have ArcGIS Mobile talk to your other systems, then I would ask yourself one question. Can your field personal do their job if they do not have a connection to that service? If so, this is a great way to interface mobile and office systems. If your answer is no, then proceed down this route with caution. Even with cell coverage getting better and better, there are always dead spots or connection issues. What is one of the first things that happen when there is an incident, the cell networks get overloaded. Also think about bandwidth. This could be a chatty system. According to Gartner, the days of unlimited data on cell networks are coming to an end, btw, unlimited data is 5GB on most carriers. If you are ok with all the above or your field crews do not need access to this information to do their jobs, then web services are great, effective and easy ways to talk to other systems. They are easy to implement and they can support many applications. All you need to do is build a module for ArcGIS Mobile that when I click an asset, it hits the appropriate web service and displays the results. This could be a simple hyperlink in the attributes of a feature.
In closing there are a number of ways to interface an ArcGIS Mobile Applications with other utility systems and we wanted to highlight few of them. The above strategies are not the only strategies; there are many ways to implement communication between different systems. If there methods you would like to discuss further, please contact us and we can help you figure out the best approach for your utility. You also may find that combining some of the approaches best suites you. For example, with new inspections, you may use ArcGIS Mobile to create a new record, store it in the cache, and post it to the geodatabase using ArcGIS Server, then nightly, use a backend script to move it to the proper system. When that field user wants to look at the historical info tied that asset they are inspection, they can hit a web service. If your field crews do not have coverage broadband, well at least they can complete their work.