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Starting the year off right for Utilities – Focus on what’s important

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in years of working with countless utility companies, it’s that change is the only constant. And 2018 will be no different. Change is going to come in many forms, whether it be the increasing presence of innovation that disrupts traditional business models (think distributed energy resources and blockchain for easy examples), or technology enhancements that may prompt us to re-evaluate our most entrenched business processes, such as how the new ArcGIS Utility Network Management extension will disrupt current records management processes. This will be a year that Utilities really begin thinking and acting on the idea of proper business transformation, or run the risk of being left behind.

It’s the start of the new year, and with it comes a new set of challenges, as well as fresh optimism around how we’ll tackle them.

So, with that enthusiasm, I’d like to share with you two major initiatives that our Utilities team will focus on in 2018: understanding the future of utility network management and enabling business transformation with analytics.

We will launch our new Network Management technology—the ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension—in late January. This product is something we’ve been diligently working on for 5 years. The Utility Network represents a major architectural change in our network management environment to one that is purely web services based, which opens many doors for how you can make your network available to support emerging business needs. Look to hear a lot more from us about this, and what it means to the business of being a utility, throughout the year.

This shift to web services expands network functionality throughout the ArcGIS platform and delivers sophisticated, yet simple to use, network functions to any device, anywhere, anytime. It is faster and more scalable than ever. With this new extension, you can:

  • Share your network model with any real-time system simply and easily
  • Create schematic diagrams automatically, directly in the platform
  • Build network connectivity flexibly
  • Model devices inside other devices
  • Edit your data with the most modern GIS desktop software anywhere, ArcGIS Pro
  • Visualize your network assets in 3D

We’ll also be spending a lot of time and effort to build out and share best practices around how you can use ArcGIS to make better decisions in how you operate, maintain and replace your assets. Specific focus will be given to explaining how location, and geospatial technology, can help you make better asset investment planning decisions, and better prepare your company to proactively and prescriptively manage increasingly severe weather patterns. As an example, think about the combination of your asset and operational data, historical and projected storm information, as well as socio-demographic information, aggregated and analyzed over space and time to provide a probability and impact profile for your business operations, correlated to both your asset base and your customers. Pretty transformational stuff.

On that note, I wanted to share with you the various ways you can meet and interact with our industry experts in the coming weeks and months. Esri Canada, Esri Inc. and Schneider Electric will all have a significant presence at the two major North American utility events running in January:

  • EDIST - January 17-18, Markham, ON (Booth #93)
  • DistribuTECH - January 23-25, San Antonio, TX (Booth #2525)

Stop by for a brief chat with us at either of these events to learn more about how ArcGIS can help your utility evolve to meet new challenges and regulatory pressures head-on. Of course, you can also send me a note by leaving a comment below or via email at

I wish you all the best for an interesting and successful 2018!

About the Author

Brian Bell is the Director for the Utilities sector at Esri Canada. He is responsible for providing strategic leadership and vision for advancing the use of Esri technology, as well as maintaining and developing relationships with customers and business partners, in the utilities and telecommunications markets. He advises utilities across Canada on GIS & enterprise system implementation planning strategies. Brian holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Queen's University and a post-graduate GIS Applications Specialist certificate from Sir Sandford Fleming College. He is an accredited member of the Project Management Institute (PMP) and is Esri Canada’s representative for various industry associations including the Ontario Electricity Distributors Association and the Canadian Electricity Association.

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