Thinking about Esri’s Utility Network? Here is how to get started.

By Robert Brook, Published on: 31st October 2018

While the Utility Network (UN) is a significant enhancement in the utility landscape (one that many have waited years for), it also entails a substantial investment. The UN has deviations from the Geometric Network (GN) in both model structure as well as content. This makes it hard for one to view the transition process as a simple migration. It requires preparation and planning to ensure this is a positive experience for your organization. These activities will also enable you to have control over the costs associated with the work.

To help our clients make the move, RMSI has developed a Program called the Utility Network Digital Transformation (UNDT). This Program has three distinct stages: Assessing your readiness for the UN, the initial migration followed by the “Twin”. Today let’s talk about how to start your work with a Readiness Assessment.

The philosophy behind UNDT is that while technology/business requirements are driving the migration process, it is important to have planned, focused, staged activities to ensure it is cost effective. The first step is to assess your ability to make the move to the UN by completing a readiness assessment. To facilitate the assessment, we have developed an ArcGIS toolbox where you compare your existing geometric network to a target utility network schema (comparison of feature classes, fields, domains and subtypes) and produce a report highlighting results and issues.

This assessment saves hours of workshop time and jump-starts the process of identifying gaps in your data or data model that is crucial to address prior to beginning your migration process. Using the report as a guide, you can plan for and schedule data updates and improvement activities according to your current requirements and budgets, and ensure negligible disruption to operations. For a limited time, RMSI is offering a complimentary readiness assessment on your existing data (contact us at to schedule the assessment).

The next step in the process is a data quality assessment. While utilities have spent countless hours and large sums of money ensuring data quality including aspects like completeness, connectivity, location etc., every utility has quality variations in their system. These variations are created by age, ownership history, geographic location, maintenance processes, construction methods, business rules etc. I recently worked with a utility that built a series of service lines very quickly to ensure they were active before winter. The compressed work schedule and early onset of winter didn’t allow for the time required for quality as-built collection before the lines were buried. The result was the introduction of questionable content into a system that has recently undergone extensive data assessments.

To ensure that you don’t propagate critical data issues, assessing the quality of your content is a valuable step in the process. In my experience, this is most effectively done through a partnership between operator and vendor where the utility contributes an understanding of history, business rules, construction standards etc and the vendor contributes the manpower needed to perform the analysis. RMSI has successfully and cost effectively completed similar work for several customers.

Once you have completed the steps necessary to assess your readiness and finished the updates you identified, you are ready for the migration!

My next blog will focus on the UNDT migration process and the concept of the Twin. Specifically, I am going to discuss about defining your own schedule/plan for migrating your business function and creating UN – operational system integrations (ADMS, OMS, WMS etc).

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