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City of Brandon Transforms the Unknown into Managed Outcomes

The City of Brandon, Manitoba, has deployed ArcGIS Utility Network, executing on their asset management strategy and modernizing access to data. The Utility Network is providing a common operating picture to staff so that they can understand and visualize the impact of changes to the water network in real time.

The City executed on its asset management strategy to modernize city-wide access to data on their water network. Through Esri Canada’s Advantage Program and ArcGIS training, the City determined that the best route to achieving this transformation was to deploy the ArcGIS Utility Network. Together with Esri Canada Strategic Advisors and Utility Professional Services, the City of Brandon Water Utility mapped a utility system transition that is integrated with the City’s broader technology strategy.

The Need to Transform

The water utility found that its geometric network data—the legacy mapping of the water network and assets—was inconsistent with the rest of the City’s geographic information system (GIS). This meant that when utility users needed to perform analysis or maintenance work, they were faced with different mapped versions of the network. This disconnect limited data availability for decision making and added to the laborious manual processes to identify work that needed to be done. The experience became especially challenging in the field where technicians, supervisors, and analysts could not access the legacy network model on mobile devices to verify the location and condition of equipment.

A key goal in improving the water system’s reliability is to transform how its users interact with the network. The utility needed a way to improve the accuracy and completeness of the water network data, while allowing for data enrichment to happen from mobile devices in the field. The City’s Engineering Department recognized that the ability to see and interact with detailed asset information directly from smartphones and tablets would vastly transform both their understanding and operations of their assets, network, and equipment.

Lastly, the City identified a need to improve its communications for both planned and unplanned water outages and better manage the public’s ability to act accordingly. Historically, residents have only been notified and kept updated on issues by checking their televisions, radio, social media, and the City’s website. It was extremely difficult for the City to communicate directly with the citizens affected by specific outages.

The Benefits of Visualizing the Water Network

The City of Brandon went into production with the ArcGIS Utility Network (UN) in late 2022. Immediately, the transition paid dividends. The advanced UN model provided its utility users with the ability to visualize the most accurate and current network data available. Changes and edits done in the field are instantly updated in the system and on the real-time network map in the office. For example, when a field crew closes a valve for maintenance, everyone looking at the UN in the office or field can immediately see that the valve is closed and when it is opened. This improvement and realization of a city-wide common operating picture means staff are now able to visualize the impact of changes to the water network in real time.

A screenshot of the Utility Network isolation trace tool showing light blue and dark blue lines around homes on a map.

“The Utility Network is absolutely a game-changer. Not only can we see operational changes to the status of our assets as soon as an action is made by our field crews, it's also easier for our managers and engineers to run network and pressure system traces and provide better information to our customers,” said Jamie Hart, Manager of Municipal Assets, City of Brandon.

Now, in the event of an emergency incident or planned outage, the City can identify addresses affected by these outages instantly. This enables the City to work proactively and productively with the Communications team to directly email or text affected homeowners and businesses.

A screenshot of the Utility Network showing different pressure readings indicated by different colours along the water network on a large imagery map.

“The team at the City of Brandon has really good data to begin with,” said Brian Bell, Utilities Director, Esri Canada. “Our team of solution experts worked closely with the City to become as efficient as possible with the upgrade so they can take advantage of the power within their data, leveraged with the industry-leading capabilities of the Utility Network.”

The City’s implementation of the ArcGIS Utility Network also enables their production of schematic diagrams to help staff identify connected assets, such as valves, hydrants, and pump stations. This ability helps determine the criticality of water assets and provides hierarchical views that allow staff to determine where vulnerabilities exist in the system so they can be planned around and minimized.

A screenshot of the Utility Network showing a network trace running into an imagery of a booster station.

“We’re now operating at the most optimal state due to our ability to know and understand the network,” said Jamie. “We’re at the beginning of our journey in this transformation. The information value we’re able to deliver now across the utility and the City as a whole is exciting."

About the Author

Desmond Khor works with multi-industry stakeholders to connect stories with opportunities. As a Marketing Manager at Esri Canada, Desmond is helping to build a stronger, more connected community around technology and the business capabilities of location intelligence.

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