We are pleased to announce three new ArcGIS for Water Utilities app configurations are now available for download. ArcGIS for Water Utilities is a series of free and easy to deploy configurations that enable the out of the box ArcGIS platform to support common water, wastewater and stormwater workflows. These new apps bring the total number of ArcGIS for Water Utilities configurations released by Esri so far to 31, with more app configurations currently in development. The following is a brief overview of the newly released app configurations. Continue reading
A widely recognized challenge that water, wastewater and stormwater utilities face is capturing the knowledge of workers before they retire. Over the past few months we’ve had many conversations with water utilities that are losing a high number of their most experienced workers due to retirements over the next few years. It seems like small and medium sized water utilities are particularly anxious about looming worker retirements and are proactively taking steps to capture knowledge now.
GIS has always been a system that water utilities relied on to capture individual knowledge, institutionalize it and make it available to all within the organization. So we thought it would helpful to explore some of the ways GIS can help preserve an organization’s knowledge. Continue reading
Here at Esri, we always try to help one another out. Well the Local Government team asked if we could expand the functionality of the Attribute Assistant and make a series of construction tools to help with address data management workflows; and we obliged. We came up with some pretty cool new rules for the attribute assistant and some interesting construction tools that will be used to streamline address maintenance workflows. Even though these have been designed for managing address information, you may find them very helpful. Let’s first take a look at these new attribute assistant rules.
The first rule we needed to create was CASCADE_ATTRIBUTE. This rule will allow you to make a change to an attribute in a table or layer and push that new attribute value to every feature that contains the value. So in the address world, we have implemented a Master Street Name table. Say a road was renamed, we can go into the table, change the road name, and the rule will open up the Road Centerline layer and make that change to every road with the old name, then open up the Site Address Point Layer and update the road name as well. Pretty cool, huh?
The second rule we created was VALIDATE_ATTRIBUTE_LOOKUP. This rule will validate an attribute change against a look up table or layer. Let’s look out how you would use this in address land. If I created a new road and I want to make sure the road name matches a road in the Master Street Name table, I can set this rule up to monitor my Street Name field and check that value against the Master Street Name table. The cool thing about this rule is all I have to do is enter a piece of the road information. If it finds more than one record in the street name table, it presents a prompt, where you can select any of the matching values. How is that for data validation?
I also mentioned we are working on some new construction tools. These are still in development, but here is what we are working towards. One tool will allow the user to click a reference point, in our case, an address point that represents the location on the centerline of which the address is derived, create this point if it does not exist, then create a series of site address points with information from that reference point or the centerline underneath it. So basically, you can create a series of points all with information from source point. The second is a tool to draw a new road and split any intersecting roads and prorate their address information.
If you want to try the new rules out, as well as a few other enhancements, we have posted a beta of the tools on the forum.
Mike from the Water Team
Why should a water, wastewater or stormwater utility adopt the Local Government Information Model?
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.
If you have not noticed, we have been making a lot of improvements to the Infrastructure Editing Template or IET as some of you have been calling it. We have been working through the enhancment requests that we recieved at the UC and have released most of them through the Water Utilities Forum Beta Thread. We have one very important improvement left that we need your help on. We are looking to build a set of tools to help bring infrastructure from a proposed status to an in-service status and tools to move features from in-service to an abandon status.
Here are the tools we are thinking of so far.
1: A Geoprocessing script or model to change the status of selected features.
2: A Geoprocessing script or model to move a feature from one feature class to another and update some attributes.
3: A tool to select an existing line, select a new line and move all features to the new line(taps and laterals)
4: A tool to select two locations on a line, junctions or edges, split the line if required, run a trace between them and copy or cut each feature to a new feature class.
Would the above toolset allow you to manage the life cycle of your assets better? If not, what are we missing? Should we add any additional steps to these tools?
Please let us know through the forum entry on this topic linked below.
With the User Conference just 10 days away, we’d like to remind you to take advantage of the Water Utility Data Health Check service that we are providing at the Geodatabase Management island. There are still some slots left if you’d like to sign up. Just send an email with your name, organization, contact info, and preferred time slot to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those who recieve the monthly ArcWatch e-magazine you’ll know that they contain vast amounts of information bridging across all industries that use GIS. This month, the Director of Utility Solutions, Bill Meehan wrote a great article outlining what it takes to capture the large amount of information the aging workforce has in a way that’s defendable, repeatable, and editable. You can check it out here.
On May 18th we will be hosting a meeting of the Esri Mid-Atlantic Water/Wastewater Special Interest Group in our Chesterbrook, PA office. The meeting will run from 9 am to 3 pm. Lunch is provided and is graciously sponsored by Esri Business Partner GBA Master Series. Continue reading
We’re proud to announce the next evolution of Esri’s offerings for water, wastewater and stormwater utilities – ArcGIS for Water Utilities.
Over the next few weeks leading up to the Esri User Conference, we will be reorganizing the Water Utility Resource Center and our templates into ArcGIS for Water Utilities. In the meantime, we thought it would be helpful to give an overview of ArcGIS for Water Utilities and answer some questions we’ve already received from members of the user community that have helped us bring ArcGIS for Water Utilities together.
What is ArcGIS for Water Utilities?
ArcGIS for Water Utilities is a collection of maps and apps packaged for the ArcGIS platform. It is designed to meet common needs of water, wastewater and stormwater utilities. The maps and apps that are part of ArcGIS for Water Utilities are the next generation of the Water Utility Resource Center Templates.
ArcGIS for Water Utilities is a configuration of ArcGIS software and is included in the cost of licensing the ArcGIS system.
What do you mean by the “ArcGIS System”?
ArcGIS is a scalable system of integrated software that is designed to be deployed in a variety of ways. The advances in ArcGIS 10 truly make ArcGIS a geo-spatial technology platform that meets the common generic needs of any organization for creating, managing, analyzing and sharing spatial data. All components of the ArcGIS platform – ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Server, the geodatabase, mobile GIS clients, web GIS clients, work seamlessly together when deployed as a system.
Water utilities are finding it easier to license the whole system because it fits their business needs better than buying individual pieces of software in a piecemeal manner. ArcGIS for Water Utilities enables users to get started fast and to become immediately productive. It provides a framework that can be extended and improved both by individual organizations as well as by valued business partners that support the water utilities community.
This sounds a lot like the Water Utility Templates you already have?
Yes – because it is the next generation of our templates. Based on your experiences and requests, we’ve decided that we can make water utility GIS easier, faster, cheaper and less confusing to implement by delivering all the parts you need to successfully implement ArcGIS to serve your organization’s mission.
How does this relate to Esri’s cloud efforts?
The cloud is already part of Esri’s platform, so it should come as no surprise that ArcGIS for Water Utilities can be implemented on site or in the cloud and will continue to evolve with the cloud capabilities of ArcGIS platform.
Why are you doing this?
We want to make ArcGIS easier, faster and cheaper to deploy for water utilities.
Are you going to a formal release schedule for ArcGIS for Water Utilities?
Yes. We have definite plans to continue to make incremental improvements and additions and will release these on an on-going basis.
How can I get ArcGIS for Water Utilities?
Download the set of maps and apps from the ArcGIS.com Water Utilities community, just like you currently download the Water Utility Templates.