Skip navigation
All Places > Electric and Gas > Blog > 2017 > September

We made it! Welcome to the final day of GeoConX 2017. Here's a recap of what happened during the closing session. 


Note: If you missed any of the GeoNet coverage this week, check out the list below: 


Who's Been Helping to Beta Test the Utility Network?

A big theme throughout the week was the Utility Network and getting users ready for the coming release and transition. Several Esri customers and partners have been helping with the launch. If you're looking for which companies are early adopters and beta partners, check out this list below. 




The Opportunity of GIS

There's a great opportunity to leverage GIS throughout the organization and across internal and external Utility an communication partnerships. Check out the image below for an overview of how you can empower your GIS




What is the Science of Where Vocabulary?

It's important to know how to talk about the Science of Where to stakeholders in a way we haven't before. A special vocabulary is needed to navigate those conversation. Here's an overview of the Science of Where vocabulary. What do you think? How do you use this in your work? 




Now, Let's Test Your Science of Where Knowledge

Then it was time to out the Science of Where vocabulary and knowledge to use. Attendees got out their smart phones and played a fun multiple choice quiz game testing both their knowledge and how fast they could decipher the purpose of the maps on the screens. It was tight race to the end, but a good time was had by all.  








See you in Dallas in 2018!

Mark your calendars now. GeoConX will be held on November 5-8, 2018 at Omni Dallas Hotel in Dallas, Texas. We hope to see you there. 


That's a wrap! Thanks for a fantastic and inspiring week in Chicago. We hope you enjoyed the updates here on GeoNet. Until next year, let's continue the conversation in the The specified item was not found. group where you can ask questions and share your GeoConX feedback and experiences. 

Welcome to Day Two at the GeoConX conference, we are here in the beautiful historic Hilton Chicago Hotel. It is a crisp and sunny day in downtown Chicago. 


We will be at the GeoNet expo booth again today from 9:30 am - 4:00 pm, stop by, talk to Chris to join and learn more about the GeoNet community.


YPN (Young Professional Network) - Empower Your Voice

Keynote Speaker Keith Searles - CEO/Owner of Urban GIS

Moderator - Renee Bernstein - solution engineer, Esri YPN (The specified item was not found.)

Additional speakers- Joy Roberts, Samantha Konsoer - Urban GIS


Renee kicked off the session with an introduction of the topic, "We are here to talk about communication, not only with your peers but also with your management and everyone around you".


Keith shared with us his background, how he got into GIS and his evolution as a public speaker and communicator.

The main theme was what does communication mean, and how can you empower your voice using good communication.  Communication is a means to get things done and make good decisions. To get started with good communication you need to think about your short term, near and long term goals, and think outside the box.

To drive this point, I will share Keith's favorite saying "Never let them put you in a box, until they put you in The Box".


Especially as technical professional in the GIS field, communication is key to getting things done, but as a soft skill it doesn't always get prioritized or thought of as important. In the GIS field we all know the Where matters, but we need to recognize that the We matters as well, because as GIS professionals the work really matters and should be a large part of the decision making process in an organization. Also the Here matters, instead of getting caught up in the day to day, be more intentional about things you do now.


Keith shared his key communication tips:

  •  The best voice starts with a vision that empowers man. Start with a vision and make sure it is collaborative,  don’t do it in a vacuum.
  • The best utility models are effectively networked. Networks matter, extend your network.
  • Transmit and distribute your stored potential. Build relationships, ask to be mentored. Multiple mentors are good, keep the communication channels open.
  • Stay powered up by the right voices. Joy and Samantha shared with us their tips for using the right voices.
    • Samantha's shared a story of how she actually went out into the field and did ride-alongs and really embedded herself into the work so she could better understand what they were doing, what their needs were and built relationships. So when she solution the mobile GIS solution it was accepted and adopted in an otherwise reluctant audience.
    • Joy shared tips on how to ask the questions to get to the root of what the true need is. Also be aware of different communication types, not everyone communicates the same way. Lastly pay attention to the nonverbal communication, how you present yourself in appearance and body language matters.
  •  Define success on your own terms. 

Keith's closing remarks: "What is the biggest reason why we don’t communicate more- Fear! Everything that keeps you from doing what you should do is fear, mostly fear of failure."  Know your fears and work to overcome them.


The session ended with a great Q&A follow-up with Keith and his team. To learn more about the YPN (The specified item was not found.) or Urban GIS check out these resources.



Truckee Donner Shares their Network Management Transformation story 


Truckee Donner Public Utility District, a water and electric utility serving 45 square miles in the North Lake Tahoe area, has been working with the new Network Management platform to enhance their capability to represent conditions on the ground, and to manage and analyze the network regardless of the user’s location or weather conditions.


Thursday morning Meghan Campe, GIS coordinator for Truckee Donner shared their story during the First Look at Implementing the Utility Network session. “We use GIS every day as part of our operational decision making, putting the latest GIS data in the hands of our field crews. As we move forward in the new Utility Network, we look forward to learning from other utilities."


Truckee Donner faces some unique challenges as a resort destination that needs to accommodate a fluctuating vacation population alongside severe weather conditions brought by winter storms.


Meghan demonstrated how they use ArcFM to create and analyze new network data. They can highlight the circuit they want to work with, use a template to add a new three-phase transformer, and trace connectivity back to the source. They can run an update using the subnetwork tool to update the circuit information. They use the Find Feeder tool to summarize the load per phase. The diagram of the circuit is then updated, and they can select the features to push to the network diagram.


Truckee now has a more realistic representation of their network that allows field technicians to better understand, analyze and update their network during both optimal and sub-optimal conditions. The improved understanding of their network makes it easier for them to maintain it for a more stable network that keeps the lights on for all their customers.


Thursday's a Hit! GeoGeeks Catch a Homer



Thursday was a hit on many levels and it was great to talk with so many new and current members of the GeoNet Community at the Expo booth. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and be sure to follow the The specified item was not found. group where you can ask questions and share your experiences from this week. 


Speaking of big hits, Thursday wrapped up with the evening event as we headed to the the ballpark to watch the Chicago White Sox take on the Cleveland Indians. Like the day's events, the night ended with a smash as a home run landed in the right field seats and an excited group of attendees reached up for the ball. It was a perfect end to a day full of inspiring conversations and collaboration, and it was a blast watching a group of geogeeks work together to catch a homer. (Thanks to Datacapable for the sharing the moment with us on Twitter.)  


Stay tuned for the final day tomorrow as we wrap up the week with the closing session. 

Welcome to the afternoon of Day One at the GeoConX conference. We had an energizing Plenary session this morning, if you missed it, check out the post below. 


Checkout other GeoNet Coverage:

Live Blog: 2017 Esri GeoConX Plenary


GeoNet in the Expo!



Stop by the GeoNet kiosk in the Esri booth at the back of the GIS Expo to learn more about GeoNet, Sign up and grab a button! It was great to see new members getting started on GeoNet and spend time talking with GeoNet Champions like Xander Bakker.  Come on by during the rest of the week. We'd love to connect, answer your questions and hear what you're learning this week! 


Women in GIS

The Women in GIS group is an international advocacy group for women in the GIS field, aimed at encouraging the exchange of ideas and solutions to over come obstacles women face in workplace, and in technology roles.


The group formed in 2012 at the Esri User Conference, nearly 30 people joined the first meeting. Their LinkedIn page now has over 4000 members. The group's activities include social gatherings, professional development and educational events. One of their outreach programs is Geo Mentoring in the classroom, where you can become a role model for girls in science and technology. GIS is a great field and women in GIS is a fun community, learn more and join them at Women In GIS.


Birds of a Feather sessions 

We had the pleasure of sitting in on the round robin networking sessions during the Birds of a Feather Electric session this afternoon. The tables buzzed with lots of ideas and shared experiences as GIS pros swapped stories and examples of how they're spreading GIS within their organizations and overcoming challenges too. What were your favorite moments from the Birds of a Feather sessions? What did you learn this afternoon? 


Esri Tech Session: Moving Ahead with the Next Generation Network Management



Next, we stopped by the Esri Tech Session as Esri staff took use through a deeper dive of the how-to tips and future road map of the Network Management for ArcGIS. Here's a few highlights and slides from the session. Post your comments and questions below! 


  • "UPS has been using the topology network for the last two years. We know it scales well." (see more about the UPS use case from this year's UC 2017 conference). 
  • There is a significant difference in performance between releases. Features and load time are much quicker making workflows more efficient. 
  • Getting ready to switch over? You need to take time to prep for migration. What will the migration process be like? (see slide pics below). 





That's it for Day One! Thanks for following along and be sure to follow along for more updates in the The specified item was not found. space on GeoNet. 


Welcome to the 2017 Esri GeoConX Conference Plenary!  We (Christopher Catania & Michelle Mathias ) will be sharing the latest news and updates during the plenary. Thanks for following along and we look forward to seeing your feedback and contributions in the comments below! 


(click to jump ahead to section)


8:00am - Doors open and attendees are finding their way in!



8:30 - And we're live!  Jeff Rashid kicks off the GeoConX 2017 welcoming more than 700 attendees and shares exciting and inspiring highlights and use cases from Utilities and Communications. 



8:40 - Jack Welcome message

Jeff shares a welcome video message from Esri president and founder, Jack Dangermond.



“As you know, we’ve been trying for some years to bring together the communities of electricity and gas utility users with the community of telecommunications users. We did this for a purpose. While you are very different domains with different disciplines, there is a great degree of overlap in how you both use GIS technology. The ideas in one organization can benefit another.


I want you to get to know one other. There will be a lot of opportunities over the next few days to do that. Sharing common knowledge has huge benefits in the GIS profession.


I want to talk about our work. Our work is changing the face of GIS. Over the past four years, we’ve been reengineering basically everything we do. We spent over a billion dollars on this.


It’s sort of done in the background, but those of you in business will understand the implications of the investment. We’ve been evolving the platform from client/server systems of record with big servers and thick clients to a new model. The new model is being deployed by many of you with very little disruption to the systems that you currently have.


We call this a Web GIS pattern. The fundamental difference between this and everything that preceded it is that it’s built on Web Services. This is different than just serving something out. All clients and devices—and all servers—are built on REST services. This unleashes the power of GIS across the organization.


It has the potential to increase the number of users by orders of magnitude, increasing access and value for your systems of record that you’ve invested so much in over the years. We are already seeing this happen in many different organizations. Boston went from 150 users to 6,000 users, with everyone having access to the maps and the content that is being built and managed by the organization.


In utilities, and in oil companies, and in public safety organizations (even the Red Cross), we’re seeing a great expansion in our user base. This big transformation continues to evolve, with cloud, software-as-a-service (SaaS), server-based, and enterprise-based services, the technology is evolving.


The server that you’ve been using, will continue to be used. Underneath the hood, we have re-architected the new system so that there are distributed services that are deployable almost infinitely. Some of our big customers like UPS and NOAA now have thousands of servers deployed in their business of serving out their information.


The second big thing is that field mobility has taken off. This is so important to all of you in this room. You have the power to empower the mobile worker on any device, anywhere, anytime with great information that comes out of your system of record. This means that I can extend the impact of the work and call on them to deliver up-to-date information back into my enterprise systems. This is interesting.


The pattern of Web is emerging. I can call on the information services with thin clients. I can also do updates on some of the data.


We’re here now at the introduction of a new utility-focused network model. This is a change that we’ve been working on for almost five years, as many of you know that have been working with us on this. We’ve spent a great deal of money and time researching, implementing, and now delivering this new network model.


The network model is services based. It’s a network model that is richer than our traditional network database. It allows you to view very large networks, and aligns with the complexity that many of you deal with on a daily basis. It allows for networks within networks, specialized devices, you can embed all that intelligence within your network model, helping you manage and maintain it.


This allows us to support many of the challenges that we could simply not do in the past with the old network database. Those are challenges that are upon us, with things like IoT, smart grid, and those next-generation energy and communications networks that you’re all anticipating and envisioning.


The final piece of this next-generation technology is the desktop. I know that most of you use ArcMap to do mapping and editing. We have very carefully been re-engineering this tool in a high-performance 64-bit environment to work in both 2D and 3D. This client ArcGIS Pro, will eventually take the place of ArcMap.


First and foremost, it’s a connected client. It’s not the traditional client/server environment. It’s always connected. You can tear it off, and work disconnected, but it’s designed to work with information service from the Web, off the cloud, or in your own enterprise environment.


I really wish I was there, particularly because I’m seeing GIS technology mature immensely this year. I see GIS moving from systems of record to systems of insight, where we analyze the data, to systems of engagement where field crews, customers, managers and executives are all interacting.


I’m seeing ArcGIS go from a focused stove-piped, mission-to-mission technology, to a location-enabled technology that cuts across the entire organization.

There are great benefits to managing the systems of record well, but this transformation means that you will deliver The Science of Where across your entire organization.


Thank you again for letting me talk to you for a few moments.”


8:50  -  Safety Briefing and demo


How do we get out of here? Where do we go? So we're all prepped, Joseph Marsh takes us through an important GeoConX safety briefing using interactive Esri mobile app ArcGIS Navigator showing escape routes and key locations in downtown Chicago. 



9:00am - Keynote with Jason Rodriguez from Zpryme.


Jason takes us through the "Data...The Currency of the Future"  Jason explores..."What will the future look like? and "What does this mean for: utilities, telecom, and consumers?" Here's some of the highlights covering data trends, IoT, AR, grid technologies, smart cities and impact of mobile applications.  










Jason shares ideas about today's technology landscape and what the future will look like for technology and utilities. 






9:15am - Esri vision with Damian


Esri Solutions Director Damian Spangrud shares the vision for the Science of Where, and how GIS is a platform for workflows and collaboration. 





Damian stresses and highlights the importance of the utility integration, innovations and partnerships. "You – The Electric, Gas, and Telecommunications Communities are critical to Esri’s work. And we are committed to your success." 




9:45am - Dominion Energy Uses Apps for Data-Driven Decisions


The Dominion team takes the stage to share how they're using apps and applying the Science of Where to their work. Let's dive into the details of their story! 



Dominion Energy, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, generates approximately 26,400 megawatts of electricity and has 66,000 miles of natural gas storage and distribution pipeline, and 64,200 miles of electricity transmission and distribution lines. The company has one of the largest natural gas storage systems in the US, with 1 trillion cubit feet of capacity and more that 6 million utility and retain energy customers across 18 states. Dominion Energy, and their 16,200 employees, invest in the communities they serve.


Dominion Energy has been displaying and communication geospatial information for business benefits since 1998. To date, that has been via maps or app development. Creating business-specific geospatial applications has been frustrating.


When ArcGIS Portal (Portal for ArcGIS) arrived, along with its integration with Collector (Collector for ArcGIS), app development changed. Collector allows Dominion Energy to collect data in the field using a collection form for the iPhone and iPad, including the capture of videos and pictures. Portal offers the capability to aggregate information, including the collection of information from far-flung crews for an Initial Damage Assessment during major storm events.


What began as a demo to the Election Distribution group with 10 users in an enterprise production environment became a system-wide dill with more than 650 named users within days.


The journey began with an investment in a Portal sandbox after being introduced to the technology at a conference. They began to configure geospatial application to meet identified business needs. When working on the Initial Damage Assessment, they soon realized that they could view damage in almost real time.



During the demo, the Director of Operations made a comment that it would be nice to see a dashboard-like summary. One of the GIS specialists was able to quickly create just such a dashboard in just 15 minutes.


When the specialist asked, “Is this what you’re looking for?” The director exclaimed, “Exactly!”


Shortly after this exercise, Dominion Energy was awarded the bid to operate both the electric and gas networks at Fort Hood in Klllene, Texas, the US Army’s largest base in the nation. The first priority in assuming operations was to survey, collect and mode the electric and gas network on the base.


The duo of Collector and Portal allowed the business to quickly stand up a GIS for Fort Hood. They quickly created a Gas Leak app using Collector that allowed the Dominion gas team to respond to gas leaks. This was quickly followed by apps for corrosion protection, cathodic protection, and overall safety reporting for federal, state and local compliance.



The company’s transformation became apparent on a project to construct a new 450-mile gas transmission pipeline from West Virginia across Virginia and into North Carolina. Prior to the first meeting with leadership, the GIS team created the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) Viewer to visualize the pipeline route, including parcel data. The ACP Viewer was expanded to visualize the full pipeline route. 


The combination of Portal and Collector allowed for the quick development of user-friendly and dynamic applications. Several basic asset viewers have been created to allow the leadership team to evaluate incoming data and ask deeper question about the organization’s infrastructure.


The greater visibility of GIS data has improved Dominion Energy’s ability to make data data-driven decisions.


10:30am - Break time! We'll be back in 15 minutes. 

10:45 am - What is Digital Transformation 

After a short break we are back with Bill Meehan Director, Infrastructure Marketing at Esri. Bill talks about the Digital Transformation.  With digital transformation we need to talk and think about it in a different way, not just about technology, but rethinking how we work and play. Digital transformation is about being connected.


Bill took us through a couple of examples of digital transformations we have seen. The AAA Trip Tics to Waze,  Waze uses not only navigation but also crowd sourcing and business analysis.  "Then think about Uber, this is a great example of digital transformation, taking the way we use to behave and turn it upside down. Uber knows who I am, where I am and my payment information."


Digital transformation is about where things are happening and balancing the needs of your stakeholders- owners, customers, employees and communities.


The good news- the world is going through a transformation, the energy business in particular is being upended with micro grids and decentralization. We are here to help you empower your GIS to transform your world.



11 am - Tools to help you transform


Hunter West takes us through tools and enhancements to help transform your GIS, like World Imagery, Vector Tiles, and Smart Mapping.


11:15 -11:30 am

Esri Staff continued taking us through how to use different features of the ArcGIS platform.


 11:41 am - ArcGIS App for the fields


Brian Baldwin, Drone2Map for ArcGIS


There is an area in southern California called the Cajon Pass. It lies between LA and Las Vegas, where travelers pass through. This area includes major transmission, highway corridor and rail lines, and last year a major fire shut down this region. "With a partner and licensed drone I was able to do an inspection of the towers, build out 2D image products, use 3D features form Drone2Map to build out point cloud."


This is an example of how Drone2Map can be used as a field application. It provided building out imagery with incredible resolution.


11:50 am

Joe Marsh took us through the Business Analyst App


11:52 am - Real-Time GIS

Brian Baldwin  showed us how to use Real Time GIS.  This is very helpful in disasters responses, like Harvey. Brian showed us how to add data layers using the Living Atlas.


Be sure to check out the The specified item was not found. group on GeoNet. 


11:55am - Utility Network 


Larry Young takes us through the news about the ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension


Network management tools for the next 15+ years.


  • Electric, gas, water, storm water, sewer, telecom, etc. 


Vision Statement

  • Provide utility customers the ability to model, edit, and analyze complex networks leveraging the entire ArcGIS platform  
  • Enable modeling concepts to better support true representations of what is on the ground, while fostering an easy exchange of network information with other mission critical systems
  • Provide a highly responsive editing and analysis environment


Increasing your ROI

  • Services based architecture for enabling the platform
  • Real world representation of what is on the ground
  • Multi-domain networks (e.g., combined fiber, electric, gas, and water)
  • Scale to continent-wide datasets
  • Sophisticated analysis
  • Ensuring data quality and correctness 
  • Subnetwork management
  • Improved mapping and visualization techniques
  • Expanded data exchange capabilities
  • Increased performance
  • A strong foundation for our customers and partners






12:15pm - That's a wrap for the GeoConX Plenary! Thanks for joining us and be sure to follow along the rest of the day and week in the The specified item was not found. group on GeoNet. 


We're excited to announce that this week we'll be in Chicago to live blog the plenary, share daily updates and connect with utilities and communications users during GeoConX 2017! So whether you're at GeoConX or not, we invite you to follow along and join the conversation in the Utilities and Communications space on GeoNet. Check out the event details below and we look forward to sharing what's happening throughout the week here on GeoNet and connecting with you in Chicago. 


Follow Plenary Live Blog 

During the plenary, Michelle Mathias and I will be live blogging the morning session presentations on GeoNet in the Utilities & Communications space. We invite you to follow and share your experiences in the comments on those blog posts.


Follow GeoConX Daily Updates 

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the GeoNet team and other guest contributors will be posting daily updates about what we're learning and experiencing throughout the week. Beginning on Wednesday you can follow each daily blog post in the Utilities & Communications space. 


Visit us at GeoNet Booth in the Expo 

Stop by the GeoNet area at the Esri booth in the GIS Solution Expo to say "hi" and to learn more about how to get started on GeoNet. We'll also share stories about how other Esri users are working better, sharing ideas and finding valuable solutions on GeoNet. And be sure to pick up the first-ever GeoNet Community button!