Kyle Wikstrom
Kyle Wikstrom, GIS Solutions Specialist

Over 100 GIS professionals from across the Midwest met in Mankato, Minnesota, to share ideas and experience at the Mid-West Esri Utility Users Group (MWEUUG). Pro-West, also a conference sponsor, was there help promote GIS in the utility industry.

At the conference I discussed “Leveraging ArcGIS Solutions for Utilities”, painting the picture of how ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Solutions can transform utilities using tools available right out of the box.

The ArcGIS Platform holds truly exciting opportunities for organizations. It can be leveraged to facilitate collaboration between departments, deploy mobile-ready solutions for field technicians, engage service users, and perform analysis to help make critical business decisions. Demonstrations of ArcGIS Solutions for utilities included Facility Maps, Map Notes, Report Streetlight Problem, and Operations Dashboard.

A common theme amongst users is the need to push utility data and editing capabilities to mobile devices. The ability for field technicians and office staff to share common information is critical. This moves paper processes to electronic apps and enables access to geographic utility information, even in disconnected mode. Increasing productivity this way can impact an entire organization by making it more effective and efficient.

Here is a little more about what took place at MWEUUG…

Apps for Utilities

The ArcGIS Solutions site offers ready-to-use maps and apps that include templates and walkthrough documentation. Utility organizations can bolster the use of ArcGIS Online and Portal for ArcGIS by creating a public gallery or a one-stop shop for mapping resources. Geographic information can benefit all departments; from asset management to customer care.

Workforce for ArcGIS

Workforce allows dispatchers to create assignments for field crews to use in a native mobile app. Field crews using Workforce on a mobile device can see their assignment, use Navigator for routing, and use Collector or Survey123 to edit or collect information about the assignment. Dispatchers and executives can use Operations Dashboard to monitor infrastructure activities and field crew status.

Why not create this all in one app?

By breaking up a workflow into its specific pieces, more specialized solutions can be created. This also allows the option to substitute a piece of a workflow with another system.

How do utilities fit into ArcGIS Pro?

ArcGIS Pro does not currently support the geometric network capabilities, including management, building, and editing. Many utilities who manage a geometric network will not use ArcGIS Pro until this is supported. This capability is anticipated to be released in spring 2017.

This does not mean that Pro has no place in utilities. For example, inspection data layers can be added to a map in Pro and edited on the fly. ArcGIS Pro works seamlessly with ArcGIS Online and Portal for ArcGIS.

Network Management Project

The Network Management Project (NMP) is a new development of the Geometric Network. It will allow modelling, editing, and analyzing complex networks of facility infrastructures. The goal of this project is to support utilities and telecommunications for the next 10-15 years, just as the geometric network has been this support for the past 10-15 years. NMP will improve performance, scalability, and interoperability. More information will be revealed at the Esri UC, and a beta version is expected in early fall 2016.

What’s the most important thing utilities can do TODAY to move forward with GIS?

Go for the low hanging fruit in your organization, and then tackle the hot topics. Remember, sometimes the simplest map is the most effective. There is no need to wait until all utility data is converted from CAD to GIS. Start NOW!

How are you using the ArcGIS Platform in your utility infrastructure? How can we help? Contact Pro-West by tweeting us or sending me an email.