Skip to main content

The future of utility network management has arrived

Are you a utility company that is interested in the new ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension and want to find out what it’s all about? This guest blog post by my colleague, Jenny Fong, Technical Support Specialist, will bring you through some of the capabilities of the Utility Network and some of her favorite things about it.

While I was enjoying the last days of the summer, I asked Jenny to write a post highlighting some of the latest features released in the ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension. Here’s what she has to share.

Following the initial release of the ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension earlier this year, Esri has continued to add new functionalities and capabilities, giving utility companies a better way to manage and analyze their networks. It has been a very exciting journey for me to explore these advancements and share them with our customers.

The Geometric Network (GN) was built over a decade ago and while it served its purpose for many utility companies around the world, new requirements to support an ADMS and provide network information across the Esri platform, as well as accessing the data across multiple devices, has raised the need for change. This is where the Utility Network (UN) comes in. The UN is built to support the ability to manage, maintain and analyze complex networks, which better represent assets as they are in the field.

Let’s look at some of the features that I think are the most significant.

  1. Tracing

The UN has a tracing framework to help you build the kind of analysis you need for your business. Within ArcGIS Pro, you are provided with a core set of tracing geoprocessing tools such as Connected, Subnetwork, Downstream and Upstream tracing. Users can easily extend and configure these core geoprocessing trace tools to have them return the exact results which users are looking for.

The tracing geoprocessing tool with some of the configuration options.

I took this one step further after being inspired by Hussein Nasser’s blog post, “A technical walk-through for a simple utility network web trace tool with Javascript”, and was able to deploy a custom widget to a Web AppBuilder app that would run some of the core tracing analysis on an electric network. All of this was done, from beginning to end, within a few days. For those of you familiar with the GN, you will understand that having a tracing tool developed and deployed to the web, in such a short period is mind-blowing. The ability to have such a seamless experience with network data, between the enterprise environment and the web, was one of the most exciting things that I have found while working with the UN.

The Web AppBuilder app with a custom tracing widget. This image shows a downstream trace result from the utility network service.

  1. Network Diagrams

For all of those who have/are using ArcGIS Schematics, you will be excited about Network Diagrams. It comes with the ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension and can be used to create schematic-like diagrams of your network. Leveraging a diagram template created by your administrator, users can now make these network diagrams on the fly, on any part of their network. Diagrams can be stored within the database. As modifications are made to the utility network, any diagram referencing the network can be updated to reflect the changes.

A network diagram from an electric utility network.

  1. Historical Moments

The UN is built on top of a new multi-user editing model called branch versioning. It keeps track of all edits that are applied to the network, as well as when the edits are completed. This unique capability allows users to go back to a specific moment in time, view the state of the network and also interact and run analysis on these moments and different states.

An image of the Change Moment option in ArcGIS Pro

Along with the release of UN, Schneider Electric has continued their partnership with Esri to provide a solution that will streamline utility business workflows. Schneider Electric released ArcFM Editor XI to support the UN, now supporting ArcGIS Pro version 2.2. ArcFM Editor XI sits on top of ArcGIS Pro and adds multiple tools to increase the efficiency of utility clients. Here are two of my favourite tools that ArcFM Editor XI provides:

  1. Visual Editing

ArcFM Editor XI displays an engineering-like view of different operable devices and provides the ability to visually edit the open/closed position - all with a click of a button inside the component information view.

The Component Information view pane, showing a switch device.

  1. Assign Phase Construction tool

The Assign Phase Construction tool allows users to apply phasing information to devices more efficiently. It will automatically detect and apply the phase information which the device is snapping to, which users can change if required.

The assign phase construction tool.

I’ve only shared a few highlights of the impressive benefits and functionalities available with the UN. Want to see more?  Join Brian and myself for an in-depth review and ask your questions during the webinar, “The New ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension: What is it and what should I do about it?” on September 20th, 2018 at 1:00 pm EST.  We look forward to sharing more exciting capabilities with you and your team.

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.

Profile Photo of Brian Bell