Top Ten things about the utility network for electric

Blog Post created by pdemer-esristaff Employee on Dec 14, 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, Esri is working hard towards the release of ArcGIS 10.6 and ArcGIS Pro 2.1 which includes the utility network – as I type the last lines of code are being written and final tests done. The first release of the utility network, officially called the ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension, will deliver server side and end-user capabilities for viewing, querying, editing, analysis, and administering utility networks in some transformative ways.

I’d like to share my Top Ten things to know about the Utility Network Management Extension for Electric Utilities.


Management of all Networks – the utility network can be configured to contain many domain networks – for electric this includes transmission and distribution. Underneath each domain network can be one or more tiers, for distribution this could be medium voltage, low voltage, low voltage mesh, etc. For transmission, this might be AC and DC or AC High and AC Ultra High. 


Subnetwork Management – the utility network will have the capability to understand circuits and feeders, my favorite benefit of this is the ability to have summary attributes about the circuit that are maintained by the system. Want to know how many customers or transformers on a feeder or how much distributed generation? Just query the subnetwork layer from ArcGIS Pro or ANY ArcGIS App. I’m excited to see where our partners and customers take this powerful capability.


Hi Fidelity Data – the utility network introduces some exciting concepts like containers and connectivity associations. These will support much better white space management, non-coincident connectivity (points connecting to points) and the ability to model devices like switch gear, transformer banks and entire substations. These capabilities are important for supporting integration with third party modeling software and systems like OMS and ADMS.


Services Architecture – users will no longer make database connections but connect via a portal with a named user to one or more utility network services. The main service will allow view, query, edit, and version management. Other services will support diagramming (schematics), tracing, and administrative functions. This services architecture is available in ArcGIS Pro and other ArcGIS Apps but also via rest endpoints so any developer could work with it. Our partners are already doing some exciting work in this area.


Sophisticated Analysis – since the utility network will be able to manage all networks and data can be modeled as hi fidelity this introduces some interesting analysis capabilities. A tracing service is available with many parameters for supporting an incredibly robust tracing experience. A user could choose to trace within or between domains and/or tiers and configure options for setting conditions that stop that trace and results that summarize the trace. A simple example might be trace a feeder and summarize all poles on that feeder. A classic question that can be configured as a single click. Our partners with decades of experience in the industry are building some great solutions to fully leverage the core software.


Enhanced Data Quality – one of the many goals of the utility network project was to create a much better editing experience. ArcGIS Pro gets much of the credit here. Edit templates will allow a user to be guided through the editing experience from simple to complex. This will minimize data entry, restrict bad entries and when and if errors are found flag those with dirty areas immediately for easy correction by the user or someone else. The snapping environment inside ArcGIS Pro clearly shows you valid connections, this is driven by our industry standard data models that contain all the standard rules about valid connections. These rules can be modified to match the way your company works.


Enhanced Cartography – ArcGIS Pro allows users to make beautiful yet accurate maps. With containers, you’ll be able to control white space management to help those in the office and the field better navigate and use your maps. Diagramming (schematics) is built right in so if you want to see your feeder or trace results as a diagram it’s just a click away. The utility network is 3D enabled and ArcGIS Pro supports 2D and 3D in the same project - again I’m excited to see where everyone takes this.


New Industry Data Models – we have taken a fresh look at how to model an electric distribution and transmission system – including substations. In addition, there are some new capabilities in the core ArcGIS information model that we can take advantage of. The result is a much more streamlined data model with a design towards performance while still allowing sophisticated configuration options to support electric utilities across the globe. The electric model has only 7 feature classes. Each feature class has asset groups and asset types that allow all the modeling variety you need. Think of asset groups and asset types like subtypes of subtypes. As an example, there will not be an overhead transformer feature class and underground transformer feature class with subtypes delineating what type of device. With the new data model, there will be a feature class called “electric distribution device” which will have an asset group called “transformer” and asset types of “overhead single phase”, “pad mounted single phase”, etc. Partners and customers will be able to modify the asset groups and types to match their needs.


Data Migration and Data Exchange – we often get asked how a utility will move from their current system of record GIS to the utility network and how easy it will be to get information out of the utility network. Whether you are using ArcGIS 10.2.1, an earlier version or a non-ArcGIS solution for maintain your electric network, there will be tools available for you next year to migrate your data into the standard electric utility network data model. You’ll be able to migrate your data as-is or take advantage of the hi fidelity option. In addition, it will be easy to get at the data inside the utility network. There is a geoprocessing tool inside ArcGIS Pro to export a subnetwork as json and more capabilities will be added here in the future. The services based architecture helps here as well, any developer that knows how to work with rest endpoints can make requests of the data.  


Performance – rounding out the top ten is one that everyone cares about, performance. In a previous blog I wrote about this in more detail. To summarize, work has been done on the server side and client side to ensure you have the fastest experience possible. Subnetwork management, hi fidelity data support, services architecture, enhanced cartography and the new data models all play a role here. I’m sure you’ll really enjoy the experience.


That’s my top ten things to know about the ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension for electric utilities. I look forward to your feedback and ideas as you get your hands on the software about a month from now.


PLEASE NOTE: The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent Esri’s position, strategies, or opinions.