Leaders Speak – Digital Transformation of Networks for the Utility Industry

By Ravi Nishesh Srivastava, Published on: 15th November 2021

Q1) What is the changing scenario in the utility industry?

Utilities are progressively embracing newer technologies to operate more efficiently and sustainably. Utility Network (UN) is evolving and offering significantly greater capabilities than the traditional Geometric Network. Utility Network is structured quite differently from the Geometric Network and offers more flexibility.

For example, if you are using one of the standard electric models for Geometric Network, around 20 or more feature classes may be utilized in the model. In contrast to that, Utility Network utilizes fewer feature types, plus supporting classes for service areas and structures.

Having fewer feature classes offers benefits such as:

  • It requires fewer round trips to the geodatabase while retrieving or updating data
  • It is used for maintaining performance, given the services-based architecture of the Utility Network
  • Data management becomes efficient

Q2) What are some of the critical factors for utilities to overcome their business challenges?

  • Location is the most crucial parameter for geospatial initiatives. When linked with location, each utility asset provides a modernized foundation on which several business use cases are developed and executed.
  • Presenting real-time information is also crucial as it enables people to see the information spontaneously and respond immediately, resulting in quick decision making and planning.
  • Interoperability is the key aspect where data is communicated seamlessly across systems without any loss of information. Automation and simulation are the key components to drive interoperable systems across any utility
  • Efficient Asset Management is one of the critical requirements, and it is essential to align it with industry best practices and standards. A robust asset management strategy is critical to enable utilities into digital transformation.

Q3) What is RMSI’s UNDT tool? How is this solution helping address the needs around the transition to the new Esri Model?

Utility Network Digital Transformation (UNDT) is a proprietary solution of RMSI, which is a streamlined solution for transforming data from a Geometric Network to a Utility Network. It is a multistep process of assessing a utility’s ability to migrate, complete the necessary reparations, migrate the data, and deploy business solutions & integration. It also addresses the requirements around the new Esri Model.

UNDT is compatible with Esri/ArcFM datasets, enterprise geodatabase, and file geodatabase. It has in-built reporting capabilities for data readiness and gap assessment. Additionally, there is an in-built schema mapping tool to ensure zero data loss from source to target. This tool is business rules driven and supports spatial ETL script-enabled migration. UNDT is designed to handle multiple versions and manage delta updates. Nearly 80% of the processes in this tool are automated.

Q4) After data migration, how can a utility leverage migrated data?

Once the data is migrated, one can run different simulations and a comprehensive network modeling if the utility network is enabled to an advanced network modeling. As the simulation happens, the overall representation of network can also be visualized on maps and interfaces.

Everything, including desktops, personal laptops, and mobile phones, has access to the Utility Network. To get any Utility Network-specific jobs done, you don’t require a dependent or coordinated system. Migrated data can be further used in a focused application like UNE for analysis, editing, and reporting.

Q5) What is the partnering engagement with Esri UK on Utility Network Editor application? Please explain.

RMSI has partnered with Esri UK to provide services to global utilities on Utility Network Editor (UNE). Utility Network Editor is an application for editing, tracing, and viewing the Utility Network in a web browser, covering gas, electric, water, and telecom network.

UNE is lightweight, web-based, and entirely configurable according to one’s needs. It understands the connectivity between utility assets and applies this knowledge before, during, and after an edit. A set of rules are stated on the utility network services; every time user opens an application in UNE, it provides an inquisitive editing experience that helps utility professionals in picking UNE and use it without asking them to become GIS experts.

Q6) What is the joint proposition between RMSI’s UNDT and Esri UK’s UNE solution? Please share details

UNDT is the proprietary application of RMSI and UNE is one of the solutions from Esri UK. This is a combined offering for migration and web editing of Utility network for utilities across the globe. UNDT enables seamless data migration from Geometric Network to Utility Network. It has all the processes involved to migrate the geometric network data into more accurate utility network data.

Furthermore, this data is configured onto Utility Network Editor (UNE) through a service. A particular application can be used by people at different levels for data editing and tracing which can be done on the web. After the migration, one doesn’t need complex software at the clients’ side for editing, running analyses and traces.

In the long run, the utility industry is poised to undergo a dramatic digital transformation as more companies start embracing newer technologies and transition to next gen utility network model is one important step towards this digital transformation journey.

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