Tag: local government information model

The Evolving Local Government Information Model and its Impact on Water Utilities

In March 2017, we made changes to the Local Government Information Model and as a result we’ve received several questions from the water, wastewater and stormwater ArcGIS user community.  We thought it would be useful to answer some of your questions in a blog.

What Changed?

With the March 2017 ArcGIS Solutions release, the water, wastewater, and stormwater feature datasets Continue reading

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ArcGIS Online Geocoding and Routing Services Changing Soon: Update your ArcGIS for Local & State Government Applications

If you have deployed any of the ArcGIS for Local & State Government Web Applications then, you may need to update these web applications because on December 31, 2013, the ArcGIS Online legacy geocoding and routing services used in many of our applications will be retired. Continue reading

Posted in Local Government, State Government | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

ArcGIS for Water Utilities at the ArcGIS for Local Government Special Interest Group

Want to give Esri feedback on ArcGIS for Water Utilities and suggest new functionality?  Curious about how other ArcGIS users have deployed ArcGIS for Water Utilities or migrated to the information model? Do you want to learn about our future plans and meet the development team?

Then please join us at the ArcGIS for Local Government Special Interest Group meeting at the 2012 Esri International User Conference.  The meeting takes place on Wednesday July 25th from 12:00 to 1 PM in Room 24 A.

ArcGIS for Water Utilities is a module of ArcGIS for Local Government.  Both share a common information model that supports the deployment of over 50 maps and apps.  So this is your opportunity to share knowledge with users in the water, wastewater and stormwater utility community as well as other industries and guide our future actions.

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The ArcGIS for Water Utilities Approach to Meeting Water Utility GIS Needs

ArcGIS for Water Utilities is an evolutionary step in how Esri’s GIS technology can be deployed at water utilities.  Over the last year we’ve had many conversations about how ArcGIS for Water Utilities enables water, sewer and stormwater utilities to take a better approach to meeting their GIS needs.  We’ve found one of the most effective ways to communicate the “ArcGIS for Water Utilities Approach” is to compare it with two other approaches to meeting water utility GIS needs we’ve seen – “The Legacy Approach” and the “ArcGIS System Approach”.

Legacy Approach

A Legacy Approach to Meeting Water Utility GIS Needs

What we call “The Legacy Approach” to meeting water utility GIS needs was an approach commonly used about 10 years ago.  This approach was typified by water utilities building their GIS from the bottom up, often with many projects over a multi-year period.  With this approach water utilities were spending a lot of time and money assembling a GIS platform and then creating customizations to perform industry common functions.

Continue reading

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February 2012 Team Water/Wastewater Meeting

On February 25th and 26th   Esri’s Team Water/Wastewater Meeting will be taking place in Voorhees, NJ.  This meeting is open to all who are interested in water, wastewater and stormwater GIS.  The detailed agenda can be found here. For registration and additional information contact Christa Campbell.

The kickoff presentation for the meeting will be an overview and update on ArcGIS for Water Utilities from Esri and there will be a number of presentations from the water utility user community.

The Team Water/Wastewater Meeting is held twice a year, one meeting takes place in the winter at a water utility and another meeting takes place the Saturday before Esri’s International Users Conference in San Diego, California.
In the past this meeting focused on the creation and maintenance of Esri’s Water & Wastewater Data Models.  As those data models have become part of the Local Government Information Model, the meeting’s focus has shifted from a workshop to a gathering for those interested in water utility GIS and series of user community presentations on a variety of topics.

A special thanks to American Water for hosting this year’s meeting, Critigen for sponsoring breakfast and EMA for sponsoring lunch.

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Benefits of the Local Government Information Model for Water Utilities

Why should a water, wastewater or stormwater utility adopt the Local Government Information Model?

Easier Deployment

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.

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What is the Local Government Information Model?

The maps and apps that comprise ArcGIS for Water Utilities are built around the Local Government Information Model, so we thought it would beneficial to explain what the Local Government Information Model is in this blog and in a  follow up blog explore its benefits for water, wastewater and stormwater utilities.

We’ll start by breaking down the term Local Government Information Model into two parts “Local Government” and “Information Model”. 

Local Government

ArcGIS for Water Utilities is a module of ArcGIS for Local Government.  ArcGIS for Local Government is organized around typical services or functions of a local government – water, sewer and stormwater utilities, public safety, land records, public works, etc.  From a GIS perspective, no matter what type of entity a water utility is – a municipal department, an authority, part of a county, part of national government, private or a public private partnership, the scale of the data necessary to effectively map and manage your utility is similar to the scale of GIS data used by other local government entities.  Simply put, water utilities need local scale GIS data.
 
The feature classes and feature datasets in the Local Government Information Model are “harmonized” meaning that they are designed to work across and support typical functions of local governments without duplication and redundancies.  This enables municipal departments, functions within an organization or entire organizations to manage data that is specific to their domain and utilize data from other domains within local government as base data.

If you look across a typical city enterprise GIS implementation that encompasses all of a city’s departments, what you’ll notice is that the “operational data” of one department is often “base data” for another.  For example the parcels maintained by a city’s land records department are typically base data for the city’s water utility. The water utility may use the attributes of the parcels for analysis or may join a table to the parcels with water utility specific information.  Another example is the GIS features of a city’s storm water system that are maintained by the water department but are used as base data for the city’s 411 system that is managed by the city’s public works department.    It’s important to point out that when we say “base data” we don’t just mean the data is used as a base mapping layer, it can be used for analysis or can be extended by the utility (in the example of joining a table of utility created data to a parcel data).  Data not maintained by the utility is used as base data to provide perspective but can also blur the lines and become operational data when used for analysis or joined to information maintained by the utility

The same logic applies to water utilities that are authorities or private companies.  Some of the layers they use for base data typically come from other local units of government (cities, towns, counties) within their service territory.

Information Model

We are using the term Information Model because this is more than just a data schema.  In the GIS realm the term “data model” has commonly implied a schema or database structure only.  The Local Government Information does include a schema, but we consider things like the Map Documents for our maps and apps and specifications for services to be part of the information model as well.  

We are including Map Documents in the Local Government Information Model for two main reasons.  First the Map Documents for our maps and apps are built upon best practices for each particular type of map.  For example  in the Mobile Map Template the .MXD documents have been designed to show best practices for building an interactive water utilities map for field crew use.     

Secondly the maps and apps are built specifically for the geodatabase schema that is part of the Local Government Information Model.  What this means is if you change the underlying schema to better reflect the true organizational needs of your utility than depending on the changes made you may have to modify any map documents that use that layer. Since you use the Map Documents to publish services to ArcGIS Server than the same logic applies for including services in the Information Model.  The schema, the map documents and the services are intertwined.

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