Gas and Pipeline Blog

Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Other Boards in This Place

Latest Activity

(25 Posts)
Esri Contributor

Tired of playing GIS gymnastics with multiple data silos of your pipe system data.  Please join us on October 29th from 12:00pm – 1:00pm U.S. Central time for a presentation followed by live Q&A on using ArcGIS for managing a single digital natural gas pipe system from wellhead to meter.  A pipe system that leverages both linear referencing and connectivity to manage the gas pipe assets. See all the details at:

This presentation is part of Esri’s Infrastructure Management and GIS conference. The conference is complementary to all Esri customers that are current on maintenance and subscriptions.

1 0 181
Esri Contributor

Wondering how to better manage the Cathodic Protection portion of your pipe system. Please join us October 28th from 12:00pm – 12:30pm U.S. Central time for a brief 20-minute presentation on using the utility network and attribute rules to simplify data management and enhance capabilities. See all the details at:

This presentation is part of Esri’s Infrastructure Management and GIS conference. The conference is complementary to all Esri customers that are current on maintenance and subscriptions.

0 0 177
Esri Contributor

By Tom Coolidge and Tom DeWitte

Earlier this month, Esri released Utility and Pipeline Data Model (UPDM) 2020. This release continues Esri’s practice of maintaining a template data model ready “out-of-the-box” to manage natural gas and hazardous liquid pipe system data within an Esri geodatabase. This release includes enhancements to keep up with changes in industry practices and regulatory requirements.

What’s New for 2020

Esri software development staff continue to enhance and evolve the capabilities of the geodatabase. Keeping up with these advancements is an ongoing activity. In addition to the data model representing a best practice on how to leverage the geodatabase, the data model also represents a repository of industry knowledge. Much of the structure and content of this data model is based on feedback from Esri’s many gas and hazardous liquid industry users.

For the 2020 edition, special focus was on three key areas:

  • Incorporation of new geodatabase capabilities
  • Adjusting to address new industry practices and regulatory requirements
  • Feedback from customers

Incorporation of New Geodatabase Capabilities

Two recent enhancements are incorporated into UPDM 2020.  These enhancements are Attribute Rules and Contingent Values.


An attribute rule is an arcade script which automates an edit task such as populating an attribute or defining a utility network association. The script is embedded within the geodatabase. This ensures that the data automation and data assurance properties of the attribute rule are always invoked regardless of the Esri client application performing the edit. With UPDM 2020, attribute rules were added to automate the following edit tasks:

  • Automatically create a containment association when a content feature is spatially contained by or within a distance of a valid container feature.
  • Automatically populate the “material” attribute value with the “assettype” value for those materials which have the same value for “assettype” and “material”. This applies to Cast Iron, Ductile Iron, and Other.

A contingent value is a dynamic constraint on the values in a coded value domain list based on the value set by another attribute which is not the subtype field. In UPDM 2020, a contingent value listing was added to the PipelineLine featureclass to limit the valid choices for the “material” attributes based on the “assettype” value. For example, when the editor is placing a pipe segment with an “assettype” value of “Coated Steel,” the “material” attribute is dynamically constrained to limit an editor’s picklist of materials to only grades of steel (Grade A, Grade X42, Grade X60, etc).

Adjusting to Industry Practices

Keeping up with changes to industry practices and regulatory requirements is a continual effort. For operators in the United States, a new set of federal regulations for onshore transmission pipelines went into effect, on July 1, 2020. One of these regulations is 192.607, Verification of Pipeline Material Properties and Attributes: Onshore steel transmission pipelines.  This new regulation defines changes to what information a transmission operator must maintain for the life of the pipe asset feature. Many people in the industry refer to this new regulatory required industry practice as traceable, verifiable, and complete.

To help onshore transmission operators adopt this new industry practice several changes were made to UPDM 2020.

  • Added attributes to PipelineJunction for managing “X-Ray Number”, and “Joint Coating Type” on fittings.
  • Added attribute to PipelineLine for managing “Mill Test Pressure”, “Heat Number”, and “Joint Number” to improve management of pipe manufacturing data.
  • Added attributes to PipelineDevice for managing “Remote Operation”, “Operator Type”, and “Device Actuator Type” data to improve management of devices with remote operation capabilities.

Enhancements Due to Customer Feedback

Many customers in late 2019 and early 2020 were kind enough to take the time to share lessons learned from their implementation of UPDM 2019. Many of these lessons learned have been incorporated into UPDM 2020. A sampling of changes based on customer feedback include:

  • Increasing the text field length of the PipelineLine attribute, LocationDescription from 100 to 255.
  • Changing the default value for the PipelineLine attributes, WarningTape and TraceWire from “Yes” to “No” for the subtype “Transmission Pipe”.
  • Add the subtype “Pipe Bend” to the PipelineJunction featureclass to better support transmission data management.
  • Move “P_PipeCrossing” featureclass into the PipeSystem feature dataset to support use as a linear referenced event with the ArcGIS Pipeline Referencing solution

Gas and Pipeline Enterprise Data Management

For many gas utility and pipeline enterprises, deploying the ArcGIS platform that leverages the concepts of a service-oriented webgis is more than loading the UPDM 2020 data model into an enterprise geodatabase. It requires additional steps such as creating an ArcGIS Pro map configured for publishing the data model, publishing of the Pro map to create the required map and feature services and, perhaps, configuring a location referencing system. To help simplify these additional steps performed with UPDM 2020, Esri has embedded UPDM 2020 into a new ArcGIS for Gas solution.  The new solution is called Gas and Pipeline Enterprise Data Management. This solution provides UPDM 2020, sample data, and an ArcGIS Pro project configured with tasks and performance optimized maps. You can access this solution from the Esri ArcGIS For Gas solution site: 

As part of incorporating UPDM 2020 into this new gas industry solution, the data dictionary has been converted into a searchable online web page.  This will simplify searching the previously 800-page data dictionary. You can directly access the new UPDM 2020 online data dictionary from this link:

For more information about Gas and Pipeline Enterprise Data Management and the additional information it provides, you can read the following storymap.

For those not familiar with UPDM and its goal, here is a quick overview.


What is UPDM

UPDM is a geodatabase data model template for operators of pipe networks in the gas and hazardous liquids industries. UPDM is a moderately normalized data model that explicitly represents each physical component of a gas pipe network from the wellhead to the customer meter, or a hazardous liquids pipe network from the wellhead to the terminal or delivery point, in a single database table object.

UPDM is the only industry model which can manage a single representation of the entire pipe system.  For many companies around the world this single data repository aligns well with enterprise practices to vertically integrate business processes and operations.


The goal of the Esri UPDM is to make it easier, quicker, and more cost-effective for pipeline operators and gas utilities to implement the ArcGIS platform. The Esri UPDM accomplishes this by freely providing a data model that takes full advantage of the capabilities of the geodatabase. The data model is created and tested with ArcGIS products to ensure that it works. This significantly reduces the complexity, time, and cost to implement a spatially enabled hazardous liquid or gas pipe system data repository.

Looking Forward to UPDM 2021

A wise man once said “change is the only constant.” This is a great quote when thinking about UPDM going forward. The Esri development team will continue to enhance the capabilities of ArcGIS. Industry will continue to evolve its practices. To continue adjusting to industry practices and incorporating new ArcGIS capabilities, the Utility and Pipeline Data Model will continue to evolve.  These changes will be constant for many years to come.

1 0 1,255
Esri Contributor

By Tom DeWitte and Tom Coolidge

Installing the correct components when constructing a new pipe system or replacing an existing portion of a pipe system is critical to the safety and reliability of the overall pipe system.  When dealing with buried pipe utilities such as natural gas, water, district heating, district cooling, and hazardous liquids, this is a real issue.  Every year field crews inadvertently make the following mistakes:

   -install polyethylene assets that have been sitting in the service yard for too long

   -contractor installed a component for a utility company that is not on the utility companies’ approved manufacturer list

   -field crew installed a pipe system component which is no longer compatible with company standards. 

Without real-time field validation, these honest mistakes typically do not get identified until after the construction is complete and the pipe components have been covered over.  This latency in identification leads to expensive post-construction repairs. 

Real-time Validation

If the field construction crews could be notified that a specific pipe component about to be installed does not meet the requirements for valid installation, the previously listed issues could be eliminated. What field crews need is real-time validation.

Configuring Collector for Real-time Validation

In early 2019 Collector for ArcGIS was enhanced to support arcade scripting in the web maps which provide the configuration of Collector’s behavior.  As noted in previous blog articles, this opened the capability for real-time decoding of a pipe component’s barcode.

-Tracking and Traceability 2019: Part 1

-Tracking and Traceability 2019: Part 2

The ability to add arcade scripts to the web map pop-up provides an advanced configuration ability to provide field crews with real-time validation.


What’s a field person to do?

A field person can easily use this real-time validation capability.  Since Collector runs on Apple, Android and Windows mobile devices, they could check the validity of pipe segments, plastic device and plastic fittings while unloading them from the delivery truck.  All the field person would have to do is to use their smart phone running the Collector to scan the barcode using the device’s camera.

Screenshot of portion of Collector pop-up

Collector will automatically decode the barcode information and open a pop-up window with the validation results.  Invalid pipe segments, devices and fittings never reach the installation trench.         

Keeping invalid pipe components out of installation trenches improves safety, system reliability, and eliminates unwanted costs. No one wants to have to re-dig the construction location to remove the invalid pipe components.

How is this possible?

Esri makes real-time validation possible by allowing arcade scripts to be added to the web map configuration file.  More specifically the arcade script is added to the pop-up configuration in the web map of the pipe, device or fitting layer.

Screenshot of portion of pop-up layer configuration

With the arcade script added to the desired layer pop-ups, the web map is now ready for real-time validation.  For the field user, initiation of the validation process occurs automatically when the field user presses the “Submit” button in the upper right corner of the Collector display.

Screenshot of top portion of Collector application

The pressing of the “Submit” button after collecting some information such as scanning of a barcode also automatically opens the pop-up to show the validation results.  It really is that easy to deploy and that seamless an experience for the field user.            

What is the script doing?

The logic in the arcade script is the key to enabling Collector to perform real-time validation.  What must the script do? 

The simple answer is that it must be able to acquire the information needed to answer a question.  For example, a core validation for plastic pipe construction is whether the polyethylene plastic material is too old.  Polyethylene plastic is susceptible to the suns UV rays.  Let a roll of medium density polyethylene pipe site in the service yard for over 3 years and the sun’s UV rays will have degraded the material to the point where it should not be installed. The information needed to assess whether the role of pipe is too old is the date of manufacture and the current date.  The date of manufacture is acquired form the scanning and decoding of the ASTM F2897 barcode.  The current date is acquired from the mobile device itself.  Subtract the manufacture date from the current date and you have a time difference.  If the time difference exceeds the industry recommended shelf life then that roll of pipe is invalid and should not be installed. 

Here is a snippet of the arcade script to determine whether the polyethylene plastic pipe or component has exceeded the recommended shelf life.

Portion of arcade script to determine material shelf life


Where can I get these scripts?

Many people have told me that they find it easier to modify someone else’s script than to write one from scratch. With that statement in mind we have written arcade scripts against a UPDM 2019 data model and the ASTM F2897 barcode standard to address three validation scenarios.

  • Scenario 1: Material for HDPE and MDPE has exceeded its shelf life
  • Scenario 2: The manufacturer of the pipe system component is not on the utilities approved list.
  • Scenario 3: The specific size and model of the component is not part of the utilities set of codes and standards.

These arcade scripts are available for download from the following location on geonet. In addition to the scripts are detailed instructions on how to configure and deploy the scripts into your ArcGIS Enterprise or Online organization.  That’s right, web map based arcade scripts not only work for ArcGIS Enterprise environments they also work for ArcGIS Online organizations.

What else can Collector real-time validations do

In addition to the real-time validation scenarios previously listed, there are other opportunities for applying real-time validation.  For example, you could create custom barcodes for welding and plastic fusion operators.  The custom barcodes could embed the worker’s operator qualifications. A Collector web map embedded arcade script could decode that scanned operator’s badge barcode and immediately determine whether the operator is qualified and whether the qualifications are still valid.

The advanced configuration capabilities of web maps with arcade scripting open capabilities that previously required complex and expensive customization.  The universal use of web maps in web applications and mobile applications such as Collector allow this configuration to be done once and utilized across Windows mobile devices, Android mobile devices, Apple mobile devices, and web applications. 

And did I mention that these real-time validations work even when the device is disconnected from the network?

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

1 0 567
Esri Contributor

By Tom Coolidge and Tom DeWitte


Part 3 of 3

This the third and final blog in a series that explains how the ArcGIS platform with the ArcGIS Utility Network Management extension and the Utility and Pipeline Data Model (UPDM) can be utilized to model a cathodic protection system.


What is a cathodic protection zone and why does a pipe organization need to understand it?  


Cathodic Protection Zones

What is a CP zone? In the second blog of this series we described the components which comprise a cathodic protection zone and how UPDM 2019 provides a template for organizing the information about those components.  But, a cathodic protection zone is more than its components.

Cathodic Protection System

A cathodic protection zone is really an electrical circuit.  Electricity flows through it to protect the connected components from corrosion. So, to understand what a cathodic protection zone is, we need an understanding of the connectivity between the components.  But even that is not enough. In addition to understanding connectivity we need to understand what connected components have characteristics which will cause the flow of electricity to stop. 


This means the GIS model representing the cathodic protection zone needs to know that plastic pipe is non-conducting and will therefore stop the flow of electricity.  The GIS system needs to understand that devices and fittings can be insulated, and this will also stop the flow of electricity. 


The ArcGIS Utility Network Management extension provides this higher level of understanding within ArcGIS.


Defining the Cathodic Protection Zone

To create a cathodic protection zone within the utility network, all PipelineLine, PipelineDevice and PipelineJunction features must have their CPTraceability populated. Additionally, the test points must be configured as terminals and designated as a subnetwork controller.

The logic that defines how the utility network discovers a cathodic protection zone is as follows:

  1. Start the trace from the sources (Test Point(s))
  2. Use the utility network connectivity to begin traversing the system.
  3. Stop traversing the network when the trace encounters a feature with a CPTraceability = Not Traceable.

The tool within the utility network which performs this task is the “Update Subnetwork” geoprocessing tool.


When the “Update Subnetwork” is run, it aggregates the following PipelineLine features to create the subnetwork geometry.

  • Distribution lines
  • Transmission lines
  • Gathering lines


Additionally, the “Update Subnetwork” is preconfigured in UPDM 2019 to summarize the following information and write it to the subnetwork feature record.

  • Number of Anodes
  • Number of Rectifiers
  • Number of Test Points
  • Total Length
  • Total Surface Area

Defining Flow for Cathodic Protection

In the digital world of flow analysis, there are two types of flow networks; source, and sink.

  • SOURCE — A source is an origin of the resource delivered. For example, for a natural gas distribution system, sources of natural gas are the utility transfer meters within town border stations.

  • SINK —A sink is the destination of the gathered resource. For example, when modeling the Mississippi river basin, the sink of the pipe network is the outflow into the Gulf of Mexico, just south of the city of New Orleans.

A pressure system is another example of a source flow system. The source of gas to the gas pressure zone is the regulator device. A single gas pressure zone will typically have multiple regulators feeding gas into the pressure zone.

Diagram of Pressure Zone

Within the utility network, a single domain may only have one type of subnetwork controller (Source or Sink). The gas pipe system tiers (System, Pressure, Isolation) are modeled as sources.  In UPDM 2019, the Pipeline domain models the subnetwork controller type as a “Source” to support the pipe system tiers.


The cathodic protection system of a pipe system is not as consistent a flow model as the pressurized pipe system. For the impressed current system, the rectifier would be the logical source and the anode would be an intermediate device.  For the galvanically protected system, the anode would be the logical source. Because of this inconsistency, it was decided that the best option was to make the test point the source as it is typically a part of both the galvanically protected system and the impressed current protection system.


Tracing Across a Cathodic Protection Zone

Now that the cathodic protection zones have been defined with the “Update Subnetwork” geoprocessing tool users can begin to perform traces across the cathodic protection system.  Some common questions to ask the utility network via a trace are:

  • Where is are the Test Points?
  • Where is the nearest test point?
  • Which pipe system components participate in the zone?

Outside of the trace tools simple attribute queries can be run to understand the following:

  • Which pipe system components are bonded?
  • Which pipe system components are cathodic protection insulators

With the cathodic protection zones defined in the utility network, these questions can be easily answered.



Data management and analysis of cathodic protection systems was a challenge in legacy geospatial systems.  Entering the information has always been a straight forward process.  Maintaining an intelligent representation of the cathodic protection system has historically been the challenge. With the utility network combined with the UPDM 2019 configuration, maintaining and analyzing a cathodic protection system is now an intuitive process.

If you missed the first two blogs in this series, we encourage you to check them out. The first blog provided an overview of how cathodic protection systems works to provide GIS professionals and IT administrators with enough knowledge to be able to correctly create a digital representation of a cathodic protection system utilizing UPDM 2019 and the utility network . The second blog went into detail on the use of UPDM 2019 to organize the digital presentation of the cathodic protection system.


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

1 0 507
Esri Contributor

By Tom Coolidge and Tom DeWitte

Part 2 of 3

Our first blog in this series provided an overview of how cathodic protection systems works to provide GIS professionals and IT administrators with enough knowledge to be able to correctly create a digital representation of a cathodic protection system utilizing Utility and Pipeline Data Model (UPDM) 2019 and the utility network.


This second blog goes into detail on the configuration of UPDM to manage the components which make up the cathodic protection system.

Many, many years ago, being new to the natural gas and hazardous liquid industries, the management of cathodic protection was a mystery.  The data about the cathodic protection system was not being stored in the GIS along with the assets of the pipe system.  When I asked the GIS staff about this, the common answer was that the cathodic protection group maintained their data separately. This leads to the next question. What system were they using?  The most common answer I got was paper and colored pencils. That’s right the cathodic protection data was being manually maintained on a set of paper maps with colored pencils.  And every winter the cathodic protection group would manually transpose the data from last year’s paper maps to the current year’s paper maps.

Over time, the cathodic protection data started to show up in more gas GIS systems.  Most often it was an incomplete representation of the cathodic protection system.  You might see some test points and anode beds, but they usually were not connected to the pipe system.  Additionally, other important information such as insulators and rectifiers were commonly not mapped.


Some natural gas or hazardous liquid companies did map the entire cathodic protection system. But they needed special tools to manage and maintain this information.


With the release of UPDM 2019 and the utility network, it is now possible to maintain the entire cathodic protection system with the standard data management and editing tools provided by Esri.


No colored pencils required!

UPDM 2019

The 2019 edition of UPDM provides a template for organizing natural gas and hazardous liquid pipe system information. This data model is an Esri-structured geodatabase.  It is written to be able to be used and managed with the standard data management tools provided by Esri’s ArcGIS products.


UPDM 2019 and Modeling Cathodic Protection Data

The release of UPDM 2019 introduces a new, simpler, and more complete data model for managing cathodic protection data in an ArcGIS geodatabase.  These changes are intended to be used with the ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension to allow for the modeling of the cathodic protection system.

Cathodic Protection Components in UPDM

The discrete components of a cathodic protection system modeled in UPDM 2019 are anodes, rectifiers, test points, wire junctions, and insulation junctions.  The anodes, rectifiers, and test points are point features stored as asset groups within PipelineDevice featureclass.

These PipelineDevice features are not inline features of the pipe system.  Instead they physically sit adjacent to the pipe system.  These anodes, rectifiers, and test points are connected to the pipe system assets by wires and cables. The location where the test lead wires connect to the pipe system can be identified with the PipelineJunction AssetGroup type of Wire Junction.  The modeling of test junctions is not required, as the UPDM default rulebase for the utility network also allows the wires and cables to connect directly to the PipelineLine pipe segments.


The location of insulators can be specified with the PipelineJunction AssetGroup type of Insulator Junction.

The wires and cables are classified as bonding lines, rectifier cables, and test lead wires. Within UPDM they are stored in the PipelineLine featureclass.

Modeling Insulating Components

Within UPDM 2019, management of insulating pipe components is key to successfully modeling cathodic protection systems. From the perspective of modeling cathodic protection systems, the management of insulators is the defining of whether a pipe system component can be electrically traversed.

  • Pipe system component is insulating       = Not traversable
  • Pipe system component is not insulating = Traversable


In ArcGIS and the utility network, we simulate traverseability with tracing.  This means that if a pipe system component is not insulated, it is traversable which means it is traceable when defining a cathodic protection system.

  • Pipe system component is insulated       = Not traversable             = Not traceable
  • Pipe system component is not insulated = traversable                    = Traceable


In UPDM 2019, determination of whether a pipe system component is traceable is defined with the attribute: CPTraceability.  The following UPDM featureclasses which participate in the utility network have the CPTraceability attribute:

  • PIpelineLine
  • PipelineDevice
  • PipelineJunction


This attribute is assigned a coded value domain called: CP_Traceability.  This coded domain has the following values:







Not Traceable

Coded Value Domains for CP_Traceability

Within the utility network properties predefined in UPDM 2019, this attribute has been associated to the network attribute: cathodic protection traceability. This allows the value to be utilized within the trace definition which is used to define the cathodic protection zone.


Within UPDM 2019, a pipe system asset is defined as being insulated by setting the BondedInsulated attribute to a value of “Insulated”. The following UPDM featureclasses which participate in the utility network have the BondedInsulated attribute:

  • PipelineLine
  • PipelineDevice
  • PipelineJunction


The attribute BondedInsulated has been assigned the coded value domain: Bonded_Insulated.  This coded value domain has the following values:








Coded Value Domain for Bonded_Insulated

Management of Bonding Lines

Bonding lines are the wires which are used to extend the electrical connection of the cathodic protection system.  They are used to span pipeline assets which are non-conductive.

Example of Binding Wire Spanning Plastic Pipe Segment


In some legacy GIS systems, the management of bonding lines was tedious. Data editors were required to draw in the bonding line and insure that is was connected to the metallic pipe system components on each end of the line.  In the UPDM 2019 configuration, the need for geometry feature creation has been minimized by allowing an attribute on the non-conductive pipe system asset which is being spanned to indicate that the asset has been bonded.  Instead of drawing the spanning bonding line, a user simply needs to change the attribute value of the attribute: BondedInsulated to a value of “Bonded”. This means that within the Utility Network, the spanned feature can be considered traceable.

Automating Cathodic Protection Data Management

The previously described attributes, Material, BondedInsulated and CPTraceability are the PipelineDevice and PipelineJunction attributes which UPDM 2019 and the utility network use to define a cathodic protection zone. The attributes AssetType, BondedInsulated and CPTraceability are used with PipelineLine.


Attribute Purpose


PipelineDevice/ PipelineJunction

Determine material type



Determine whether bonded or insulated



Determine CP traceability




To provide automation and improve data quality, attribute rules were written to auto-populate the CPTraceability attribute based on the values of the AssetType, Material, and BondedInsulated attributes.


To explain the logic embedded within the CPTraceability attribute rules here are three scenarios:

  • Scenario 1: Metallic Pipe Segment
    • Asset Type           = Coated Steel
    • Bonded Insulated = null


  • Scenario 2: Insulated Gas Valve
    • Material                = Steel
    • Bonded Insulated = Insulated


  • Scenario 3: Plastic Pipe Spanned by Bonding Line
    • Asset Type           = Plastic PE
    • Bonded Insulated = Bonded

In each of these scenarios the CPTraceability attribute is automatically populated by the UPDM 2019-provided attribute rules.

  • Scenario 1: Metallic Pipe Segment
    • Asset Type           = Coated Steel
    • Bonded Insulated = null
    • CP Traceability   = Traceable


  • Scenario 2: Insulated Gas Valve
    • Material                = Steel
    • Bonded Insulated = Insulated
    • CP Traceability   = Not Traceable


  • Scenario 3: Plastic Pipe Spanned by Bonding Line
    • Asset Type           = Plastic PE
    • Bonded Insulated = Bonded
    • CP Traceability   = Traceable


To have the CP Traceability attribute correctly set, all the editor must do is insure that the Material/AssetType and the BondedInsulated attributes are correctly set.



The new enhanced representation of cathodic protection data in UPDM 2019 makes managing a digital representation of your cathodic protection data easier. This enhanced presentation can be created and maintained with the standard tools provided by ArcGIS Pro and the standard capabilities provided by the utility network. 


In the third and final blog of this series, we will dive into how the utility network enables organizations to understand cathodic protection zones, discover when an insulating fitting or device stops the electric circuit of the cathodic protection zone, and which pipe materials are non-conducting. 


All of this is done without colored pencils.


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

1 0 510
Esri Contributor

By Tom Coolidge and Tom DeWitte

We were struck recently in reading NACE International’s estimate of the money spent each year on corrosion-related costs for monitoring, replacing, and maintaining U.S. metallic pipe networks. The estimated annual tab is $7 billion for gathering and transmission pipelines and another $5 billion for gas distribution pipelines. That’s $12 billion each year!


Metallic pipe has been around for a long time. It has been used by the gas utility and pipeline industries since the 1800s when cast iron pipe first replaced wooden pipe. Advances in metallurgy through the years have steadily resulted in different types and better quality of metal for pipe networks. Today there is a lot of metallic pipe of one kind or the other in the ground. In fact, even after much cast iron and other metallic distribution pipe have been replaced by plastic pipe, there remains today several hundred thousand miles of in-service metallic pipe in America’s gas and hazardous liquids transmission and distribution networks. Much of it is old, and all of it is subject to corrosion.


Most people understand that if you put iron or steel in contact with moisture and oxygen, the metal will begin to rust or corrode. What most people do not understand is that this basic electro-chemical process can be slowed or even halted.


Gas utilities and pipelines understand that, though. That’s why today they dedicate considerable human and financial resources to the cause of cathodic protection. They do it because they are committed to safe operations, and they do it for regulatory compliance as cathodic protection has been required for much of America’s pipe networks since 1971.

This is the first blog of a series that explores how ArcGIS provides capabilities for the management of cathodic protection networks.


Protecting the Pipe from Corrosion

There are several methods to protect metallic pipe buried in the ground. One method is to apply a coating to the pipe to form a barrier between the metal pipe and the corrosion-causing mixture of water and air.

Coated Metallic Pipe

This is very common for natural gas and hazardous liquid carrying pipelines.  But it is not perfect, as a single scratch through the coating layer diminishes the protection.  A second method is to manipulate the same electro-chemical process which causes corrosion to instead protect the pipe from corrosion.  This method is called cathodic protection. Two common forms of cathodic protection are galvanically-protected and impressed-current protection.

Galvanically Protected

We Need a Sacrifice

A galvanically-protected cathodic protection system is also called a passive-cathodic protection system.  It is passive in that no foreign electrical energy is needed.  Galvanic protection works by connecting a more electrochemically active metal into the system than the pipe system which is being protected.  This electrochemically active metal is simply a hunk of metal buried in the ground near the pipe system. This component is called an anode. Common materials for anodes are zinc and magnesium. In a galvanic protection system, the anode gives up electrons to the pipe system.  This sacrifice of electrons results in the anode corroding instead of the pipe system.

Impressed Current Cathodic Protection

Charge It

Impressed-current cathodic protection systems are typically used to protect large pipe systems such as transmission pipelines.  The rectifier inserts direct current (DC) voltage into the cathodic protection system.  A rectifier cable connects the rectifier’s positive terminal to the anodes within the anode bed.  A second rectifier cable connects the rectifier’s negative terminal to the pipe system.


The Electric Circuit

The foundational concept to keep in mind when trying to understand cathodic protection is that the components of a cathodic protection system are connected to form an electric circuit.  If the circuit is broken, then the metallic pipe system components will lose their protection and the rate of corrosion will accelerate. If not corrected, the pipe system components will weaken and eventually fail.


Soil Is A Conductor

With cathodic protection, it is important to remember that the soil between the anode and the metallic pipe acts as a conductor.  The soil as a conductor of electricity completes the electric circuit connecting the anode to the metallic pipe.


Material Type Matters

The material of the pipe system components is critical to a cathodic protection system.  Some materials such as polyethylene (Plastic PE) are non-conducting and act as insulators. These insulating materials break the electric circuit.

Cathodic Protection System With Insulating Plastic Pipe

In addition to plastic pipes and plastic components acting as insulators and breaking the electric circuit, metallic components can be manufactured so that they, too, can be insulating devices or junctions.

Cathodic Protection Systems Separated By An Insulating Valve

Managing Cathodic Protection Data with UPDM

Management of the cathodic protection components in a Geodatabase is not difficult.  The anodes, rectifiers, and test points are typically modeled as point features.  The test lead wires; bonding lines, and rectifier cables are modeled as line features. Utility and Pipeline Data Model (UPDM) 2019 provides a template data model for managing these cathodic protection components.


Where data management of the cathodic protection systems gets challenging is the defining and maintaining of the cathodic protection zone.  The cathodic protection zone is the combination of pipeline, pipe devices, pipe junctions, cathodic protection devices, and cathodic protection lines, which together form an electric circuit.

Cathodic Protection System


Data management and analysis of cathodic protection systems was a challenge in legacy geospatial systems.  Entering the information has always been a straight forward process.  Maintaining an intelligent representation of the cathodic protection system has historically been the challenge.

With the utility network combined with the UPDM 2019 configuration, maintaining and analyzing a cathodic protection system is now an intuitive process. 


About This Blog Series

This blog article is the first of a three-part series explaining how the Esri ArcGIS platform with the Utility Network Management Extension and the Utility and Pipeline Data Model (UPDM) can be utilized to manage a digital representation of a cathodic protection system.  It is intended to provide GIS professionals and IT administrators with enough knowledge of how a cathodic protection system works to be able to correctly configure and deploy UPDM and the utility network.


The second blog article will go into detail on the configuration of UPDM to manage the components which makes up the cathodic protection system.


The third blog article will explain how the utility network uses its capabilities to model the cathodic protection system.

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

2 1 1,356
Esri Contributor

By Tom Coolidge and Tom DeWitte

Gas utility and pipeline GIS data management is increasingly important.  With a pipe network typically geographically widespread, topologically complex, and buried underground, the performance of many tasks and workflows, in a wide range of functional areas and roles, necessarily involves application software operating on a digital model of the pipe network and the surroundings through which it passes.


These models are only as good as the data available to them.  Today’s pipe network GIS typically contains extensive and detailed information about each and every component of the physical network, what is going on within it, the natural and man-made surroundings through which the pipe network passes, and activity occurring around it.

Models most often are built from that data in one of two ways – depending upon whether the objective being examined is around “where is it located” or “how is it connected.”  Linear referencing is the model building method for the first, connectivity modeling for the second.  While both methods create a network model, they do it in different ways.


Before arrival of the shared centerline feature class with ArcGIS 10.8/Pro 2.5, pipe network modelers to satisfy both modeling needs had to create and maintain multiple digital mirror representations of their real pipe network.  One of these was defined by linear referencing.  Linear referencing is a language that expresses pipeline attribute and event locations in terms of measurements along a pipeline, from a defined starting point.  The network model in Pipeline Referencing is established by the sequence of strictly increasing or decreasing measures on a continuous, unbroken non-branching run of physical pipe.

Another was defined by connectivity.  Connectivity describes the state where two or more features either share a connectivity association, or the collection of features are geometrically coincident at an endpoint (or midspan at a vertex), and a connectivity rule exists that supports the relationship.  For those to whom connectivity associations is a new term, they are used to model connectivity between two point features (Device or Junction) that are not necessarily geometrically coincident. An example of this in a pipe system is a flange bolted to a valve.  There is no pipe component between the flange and the valve in the physical world.  Now with connectivity associations in the utility network, this point to point connectivity can be correctly modeled in the digital world.

Traditionally, each of these ways was enabled by a separate set of data – one for linear referencing and another for connectivity modeling.


Multiple types of operators manage natural gas or hazardous liquids pipe networks and face the challenge of needing to create and maintain multiple models.  One type is vertically-integrated gas companies.  They span all or part of the way from the wellhead to the customer meter and typically operate an integrated pipe network that includes multiple subsystems – for example, transmission and distribution subsystems.  Historically, these subsystems have been modeled separately.


Transmission pipelines also face the same challenge, not because they operate multiple subsystems, but because the range of application software their GIS needs to support requires access to both kinds of models.


Moreover, all types of operators are searching for better interoperability among software systems at the enterprise level.  They also are experiencing the convergence of information technology and operations technology systems.


For all these reasons, a better solution to the need to create and maintain multiple digital models of the real pipe network is needed.

The Solution: Unified Pipe Data Management

Esri’s vision for pipe network operators is to create a single representation of the entire pipe network that mirrors the real network and can support both types of model building.  This removes the traditional barriers between industry subsystems – for example, between transmission and distribution subsystems – that result in data silos.  A single representation also enables users to work with that digital network just as they do with the real network.  Linear referencing and connectivity modeling now can be performed on the same single network representation.  We call this new data management capability: Unified Pipe Data Management.

The solution for vertically-integrated gas companies also is the solution for standalone transmission pipeline operators that, while they don’t operate multiple industry subsystems, have a need for both types of models to satisfy the data input requirements of the range of application software being supported by their GIS.


A single representation of the pipe network requires a unique data organization approach to store the entire pipe system—from wellhead to meter—and support the information model requirements of the ArcGIS Utility Network Management extension and Pipeline Referencing. Esri’s Utility & Pipeline Data Model (UPDM) 2019 is a data model template that provides this data organization.

Benefits Of Both Extensions Working On the Same Geodatabase

The ability for Pipeline Referencing and the ArcGIS Utility Network Management extensions to work on not just the same geodatabase but the same feature classes within the enterprise geodatabase, provides important benefits to pipe network operators.  First, the two extensions bring important advancements in essential industry-specific data management into Esri’s core technology.  This relieves the need for Esri business partners to fill capability gaps and frees them to extend the capabilities further and focus on adding value to uses of the data.  At the same time, it gives pipe network operators the opportunity to mix and match application software built on ArcGIS from multiple Esri business partners.  In addition, the ability for both extensions to work on the same geodatabase simplifies staff training, provides better management of high-pressure distribution pipe, and improves scalability and performance for operators of larger pipe networks.


For decades pipe organizations have had to either implement multiple models stored in separate data repositories or had to settle for one data management method over the other.  With the release of ArcGIS 10.8/Pro 2.5, a single digital representation of the physical pipe system can be created and maintained.  This reduces IT administration and support costs by allowing server systems and database licenses to be consolidated.  For data editors, the process is simplified by providing a single editing experience regardless of where the edit occurs across the vertically-integrated pipe system.  For end users, using the pipe system data is simpler because there is only one representation of the pipe system to work from.


One is better than more.

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

0 0 268
Esri Contributor

By Tom Coolidge and Tom DeWitte

Tracking and Traceability is now a well-established practice in the natural gas distribution industry supported by ArcGIS®.


ArcGIS mobile app advances over the last three years have helped adoption of Tracking and Traceability activity grow. Collector for ArcGIS has evolved to now include the ability to use a mobile device’s camera to read the ASTM F2897 barcode. Collector also now includes the capability to run arcade scripts in the pop-up window while the device is disconnected from the network.  Not to be overlooked, Esri also released a new enterprise geodatabase capability called attribute rules.


Those three new capabilities have enabled many gas utilities, and increasingly gas pipe installation contractors; to use Collector to capture the location, barcode, and other information about the newly-installed pipe and its related components. These new capabilities and lessons learned from the many organizations actively using Collector for the digital as-builting portion of the Tracking and Traceability workflow have resulted in a more efficient and streamlined process for performing these tasks.


The purpose of this blog is to give an overview of how the current version of Collector, when combined with an ArcGIS 10.7 or higher enterprise geodatabase, can result in a simpler and more efficient Tracking and Traceability workflow. A second blog article will follow with a detailed explanation of the new attribute rule arcade scripts which completely automate the decoding of the ASTM F2897 barcode and the automatic population of the derived attributes.

A quick review of Tracking and Traceability

PHMSA proposed rules in May of 2015 to 49 CFR part 192 to address the need for operators to better ‘track’ the details and location of assets after their delivery from the manufacturer or supplier.  The rule also speaks to the need for better ‘traceability’ of assets; meaning the ability to locate assets by material, size, manufacturer, model, or other attribute.


The ASTM F2897 standard, developed collaboratively by the natural gas industry and its leading suppliers, specifies a 16-digit alphanumeric barcode format that embodies identification of a pipeline component’s manufacturer, lot number, production date, model, material, diameter, and wall thickness.  This barcode standard is now a common piece of the manufacturer provided information for plastic pipe and its plastic components.  Additional efforts spearheaded by the Gas Technology Institute are currently underway to define a more advanced barcode standard which can be applied to both steel and plastic pipe and their components.  This barcode “thing” is not going away.  Just the opposite, it is going to expand significantly in the years to come.

Pattern Overview

The ArcGIS deployment pattern for Tracking and Traceability is comprised of four steps, as illustrated here:



Step 1: Digital as-builting

The recent improvements to Collector have made this process easier than it was just a few years ago.  The first enhancement was the revamping of the interface to simplify data entry. The second enhancement was to increase the certification of GPS vendors and their devices. Here is a link to the list of GPS receivers which can be used with Collector:

The third enhancement is the native ability of Collector to use the mobile device’s camera to capture the ASTM F2897 barcode.

With these enhancements, field staff can go into the field and capture the as-built information of the new construction using a smart device running Collector. The smart device is Bluetooth-connected to a high precision GPS antenna.  The field staff use the high accuracy GPS antenna to capture the location of the newly installed assets. The collected location data is directly streamed into Collector as native ArcGIS features.  No translation or conversation is required.  The field staff then manually input into Collector a minimal amount of information, such as Installation Date, and installation method.  The field staff then uses the device’s camera to capture the barcode and automatically populate the BARCODE attribute of the GIS feature.  The BARCODE value contains information about the asset, such as size, material, manufacturer and manufacture date.  Once the BARCODE value is captured, the field staff no longer need to manually enter this information.


The recent enhancement to Collector supporting the ability to run arcade scripts in the pop-up window, provides the ability to immediately display the decoded data to the field staff even when the device is disconnected.


An additional capability of an Esri mobile app on a smart device or tablet is the ability to capture photos of the newly installed assets.  These photos are automatically associated to the GIS feature.


When the field staff have completed the collection of the newly installed assets, the GIS features are submitted to the staging geodatabase.

Step 2: Contractor/crew assessable storage

A fundamental challenge of Tracking and Traceability is how to correctly integrate high precision GPS geospatial data, with less accurate legacy geospatial data.  A key component to overcoming this challenge is the staging geodatabase.  A staging geodatabase can be either hosted in ArcGIS Online as hosted feature layers or stored on premise with a local ArcGIS Enterprise implementation. The key purpose of the staging geodatabase is to provide an easily accessible data repository for the field crews to submit their collected construction information too.  The staging geodatabase only holds the newly collected construction information.  The construction data sits in the staging geodatabase until a mapping professional using ArcGIS Desktop accesses and downloads it to the enterprise geodatabase.


With the new enterprise geodatabase capability of attribute rules, it is possible to have the captured barcode value automatically read and used to auto-populate the derived attributes manufacturer, lot number, production date, model, material, diameter, and wall thickness.  If the digital as-builting described in step 1 happens while the device is connected to the enterprise geodatabase, then Collector will automatically decode the barcode, auto-populate the derived attributes and display the decoded information immediately after the new/updated GIS feature is submitted by Collector. In the second blog, we will provide links to these arcade scripts and describe how to apply them to an enterprise geodatabase.

Step 3: Append to enterprise geodatabase

One of the time saving capabilities of ArcGIS Desktop is the ability to interact with data from both the staging geodatabase and the enterprise geodatabase at the same time.  This allows the mapping professional to easily select the staging geodatabase features and append them into the final enterprise geodatabase feature classes. 


If the staging geodatabase layers are stored in ArcGIS Online, the previously described attribute rule arcade scripts can be applied to enterprise geodatabase layers. 


NOTE: Attribute rules only work with ArcGIS Enterprise 10.7 or higher. Additionally, ArcGIS Pro is the only desktop tool to understand attribute rules.  If using ArcMap and a geometric network, it is important that the staging geodatabase layers be stored in an enterprise geodatabase and the attribute rules are applied to the staging geodatabase layers.


The standard arctoolbox geoprocessing append tool can be used to copy the newly collected GIS features from the staging geodatabase layers to the final enterprise geodatabase feature classes.

Step 4: Mappers connect digital as-built with gas system

With the new construction data now appended from the staging geodatabase into the enterprise geodatabase and the barcode value decoded, the mapping professional now needs to determine how to connect the high precision geospatial features with the less accurate geospatial features. The outcome of this process needs to honor two data requirements:

  • Connecting the new features with the legacy features to create a single topologically connected gas pipe system.
  • Preserving the high precision GPS collected geospatial coordinate data.


The recommended best practice for accomplishing this seemingly disparate set of requirements is for the enterprise geodatabase point features such as Meters, Excess Flow Valves, and Non-Controllable Fittings to have the following attributes added: SPATIALACCURACY, GPSX, GPSY, GPSZ.  Here is another example where attribute rules can streamline the population of these GPS fields.  If using ArcMap and the geometric network, then a configuration of Esri’s Attribute Assistant tool or ArcFM’s AutoUpdater capability can be used to automatically populate these fields.  This will preserve the original GPS location values, which can be used later to rubbersheet all features (legacy and GPS) to the more accurate GPS location preserved in the GPSX, GPSY, and GPSZ attributes.  With the GPS location preserved, the mapper can adjust the new construction features as required to connect to the legacy gas pipe system.

Business value of using ArcGIS platform

This approach to Tracking and Traceability provides an opportunity for the GIS department to once again show the greater gas organization that not only can the GIS Department provide a solution which addresses this new common industry practice, but it can do so in a manner that improves the operational efficiency of the gas organization.  This pattern improves the operational efficiency of the gas organization and their contractors as follows:

  • Using Collector to collect construction data improves location accuracy and attribute quality by eliminating translation to paper and interpretation of paper based information.
  • Bluetooth integration with high precision GPS antennas improves the speed at which data is collected.
  • Capturing the barcode value reduces the amount of information the field staff manually collects. Material, diameter, manufacturer, manufacture model, manufacture data, manufacture lot number are all automatically populated by the decoding of the barcode.
  • Digitally collected data is immediately available for GIS department to process into enterprise geodatabase. This eliminates the historical latency problem of the GIS department waiting for the inter office mail transmittal of the construction packet.
  • The GIS department mapping professional task of updating the as-built representation of the gas pipe system is simplified. The mapper is no longer manually transposing paper based red-line drawings, but instead appending field collected geospatial features.  This improves the speed at which a mapper can complete the task of updating the as-built representation of the gas pipe system.
  • Safety of field operations staff is improved by providing the new construction data in a timelier manner.


This deployment pattern not only provides the ability to improve the efficiency of the field data collection, it improves the productivity of the mapping professional, and provides new construction updates to locators and field operations staff in a timely manner.


Next blog

In our next blog, we will dig into how to configure and deploy the arcade scripts for this solution to Tracking and Traceability.

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

2 0 1,923
Esri Contributor

Getting Started By Identifying Customers Impacted

By Tom Coolidge and Tom DeWitte


News of a gas outage can arrive from various sources.  It can come from a sensor indicating an abnormal condition.  Maybe it comes from a customer calling into customer service.  Or, a contractor calling operations after an excavation mishap.  Another possibility is a citizen calling in to report gas odor at a location.  Regardless of the source of the outage news, confirmation of an outage triggers one of a gas utility’s priority processes – restoring safe and reliable service to customers.

As important and critical a task as gas outage management is to a gas organization and to the community it supports, this process has changed little over the last 100 years.  For many gas organizations, it can take several hours to identify which customers have been impacted.  Once the customers are identified, getting the list of impacted customers to the field gas operations staff is still primarily a paper process. Someone literally must get into a vehicle and drive the list of customers to the location of the gas outage event.  As the field gas operations staff begins the gas relight process, they too still tend to use paper to document the status of each customer.  This means that management will always have a delayed understanding of the progress of restoring gas service.  When the mayor or governor calls asking for an update, gas executives are often get caught with little current information to pass on.

There has got to be a better way.


And, there is.  In fact, most of the gas industry already possesses the software to resolve these issues and significantly improve a gas organization’s response to a gas outage event.  The software I am referring to is the ArcGIS software currently widely used by gas organizations around the world.  This blog is the first in a series of three blogs explaining how the standard capabilities of the ArcGIS software can be deployed to address these common gas outage management challenges.  All functionality described in these blog articles are standard capabilities available today.  No customization or coding is needed. 

This first blog addresses the issue of identifying the customers impacted by a gas outage event.  This task often takes several hours when it needs to be accomplished in minutes. Additionally, the historical processes have had problems with accurately identifying the impacted customers and communicating precisely where those customer meters are located. 

The second blog will address the issue of communicating the list of impacted customers to the gas operations field staff.  The typical paper process takes too much time, causing delayed field operations and lower customer satisfaction. 

The third blog will address the gas relight process.  This process is also typically performed with paper.  The use of paper to track and communicate progress adds difficulty and inefficiency to this process.  The use of paper not only engrains a delay in relaying the update status to gas management and other interested parties, it also inputs a delay in relaying the status of individual meters between deployed field staff.

Identifying Impacted Customers

Current methods used by many gas organizations are lacking in accuracy and timeliness when identifying the customers impacted by a planned or unplanned gas outage.  One common method is to use the Customer Information System (CIS) for identifying impacted customers.  Since a CIS typically lacks an understanding of the connectivity of the pipe system, it is forced to rely on street address ranges.  The use of address ranges is inaccurate.  At every street intersection are four corner parcel lots.  Whether they are included in the address range is dependent on what street the house is listed under. This inaccuracy often requires a time-consuming manual process of having someone review the list, identify all crossing streets within the address ranges, determine the address ranges of those crossing streets, identify the corner lot addresses, then determine for each corner lot, whether it gets its gas from the impacted line, or from the gas line running down the cross street.  

Another common method is to use flow analysis systems to perform an isolation trace to identify the impacted customers.  This process is quicker, but it too is imprecise. The imprecision is due to the flow analysis software’s requirement to cluster groups of customers onto the gas pipe system at a singular location even though they each have individual service lines connecting to the gas main at discrete locations. In today’s gas pipe systems, the majority of gas mains are constructed of pinchable polyethylene plastic pipe. A gas event can be isolated or pinched at nearly any point along the plastic gas main.  The clustering of customer locations along the pipe system creates an inherent conflict between where gas operations places a clamp to pinch the pipe, and where the flow modeling engineer chose to aggregate the cluster of customers. This conflict creates an inaccuracy in the identification of impacted customers.

Accurately and quickly identifying impacted customers

The solution to addressing this problem is to use a system that understands the connectivity of the entire pipe system from its source, such as a town border station, to its end destination at the customer meter. ArcGIS provides the ability to maintain a connected representation of the entire pipe system, and the ability to perform a gas isolation trace to identify the meter or meter sets impacted by a gas outage. To perform this trace, you will require the following software:

  • ArcGIS 10.2.1 or higher, with a geometric network


  • ArcGIS Pro 2.3 or higher, ArcGIS Enterprise 10.7 or higher with a utility network


Additionally, your ArcGIS representation of the gas pipe system will need to model the following gas system assets:

  • mains
  • services
  • isolation valves
  • regulator stations (if regulator station valves are not individually mapped)
  • town border stations (if town border station valves are not individually mapped)
  • meters or meter sets

NOTE: If using meter sets you will need a link to a table identifying all meters contained within the meter set. This table is often an extraction of information from the Customer Information System


Your mains and services will at a minimum need to include the material of the pipe, so pinchable pipe can be differentiated from non-pinchable pipe.

The Gas Isolation Trace

The gas isolation trace is a more complex trace algorithm than simply identifying those pipes connected to the location of the pipe system failure, which are also between isolating valves.  With most gas pipe systems, the network is deliberately looped, to provide multiple sources of gas to any given location in the pipe system.  If this were true for every location on the pipe system, a simple connected trace defined to stop at barriers such as isolating valves or pinch points would be all that is needed.  But, there are portions of most gas systems where locations have only one source of gas.  Think of a gas pipe running along a dead-end street or a cul-de-sac.

If there is an isolating valve or pinch point at the location where the single feed pipe subsystem integrates with the larger looped pipe system, then the simple connected trace would ignore the customers on the downstream side of the barrier.  A more intelligent trace algorithm is required.  This more intelligent trace algorithm is generally referred to as the gas isolation trace.  A gas isolation trace is a multi-trace trace.  This means that the isolation trace runs a series of traces.  The first trace is the connected trace to identify the barriers (isolating valves and specified pinch locations).  Then a second round of traces is performed for each selected barrier.  This second round of traces is checking to verify that there is a source of gas feeding the barrier from the opposing side of the barrier.  This is to identify those dead-ends which do not have access to another source of gas.  Those customers downstream of the barrier on the dead-end need to be included in the list of customers impacted by the outage.

Gas Isolation Trace tools

The ArcGIS gas user community is fortunate in that there are multiple options for tools which can perform this industry specific type of trace.

One option is to download the free Gas utility editing tools provided by Esri. This ArcMap Add-In is available from the following Esri web site:

Another option is to leverage ArcMap Add-In tools from one of our business partners, such as Schneider Electric or Magnolia River.

For the ArcGIS Pro environment leveraging the utility network, this trace is a base capability as of the ArcGIS 10.7 release.

Identifying Impacted Customers

Operating the gas isolation trace tool is not complicated.  Simply identify the estimated location of the pipe system failure on the map.  In GIS speak this is called placing the flag to identify the start location of the trace.

When the isolation trace is run it will select all customers within the impacted area.  In my screen shot below you can see that this initial run selects over 100 impacted customers.


Identifying the location of pinch points

The prevalence of pinchable polyethylene plastic pipe enables the additional capability to reduce the number of impacted customers, by applying a gas clamp to pinch the pipe and stop the flow of gas to the location of the pipe system failure.  To represent this field capability in the GIS system, place a barrier at the location being considered for the pipe clamp.


With the proposed location(s) of the pipe clamp(s) now identified, the isolation trace is run a second time.  This time the resultant list of impacted customers has been reduced to less than 20.

The person running the analysis for both traces has so far only invested a few minutes of their time.  In that short time an accurate list of impacted customers has been created.


Defining the extent of the gas outage event

In today’s always connected, smartphone world, gas executives and managers expect to be able to access critical information that is easy to understand.  They generally do not need to see the list of individual customers impacted, often all they want to know is “where is the outage”, and “how many customers are impacted.”

By identifying the list of impacted customers with the ArcGIS tools, it is very easy to run an additional step to generate a polygon to define the boundary of the event.  In the GIS, a tool such as the Minimum Boundary Geometry geoprocessing tool will perform this task.

The creation of an event area feature provides a clear visual understanding of where this outage is occurring.  Having this singular feature representation also provides an intuitive means for managing event summary information, such as duration, and count of impacted customers.  The Esri-provided gas isolation tools automatically generate this polygon as part of the operation of the isolation trace.  In addition to the automatic generation of the polygon, a of every meter is generated and assigned an event ID to automatically relate the impacted customers to this specific event.

With the list of impacted customers defined and created, as well as the event bounding polygon, this information is ready to be electronically shared to gas operations field staff.

In the next blog, the 2nd blog of this blog series, the issue of delivering this list of impacted customers will be addressed.


ArcGIS today is deployed worldwide at many gas organizations, providing the ability to replace and improve upon non-spatial legacy processes.  Identifying impacted customers, whether they are connected by steel pipe or pinchable plastic pipe, can be accomplished in just a few minutes.  Using the ArcGIS tools can provide a more accurate list of impacted customers than is available via legacy methods.  This list not only identifies who has been impacted, it also clearly and accurately identifies where those impacted customers are located.   

PLEASE NOTE: The postings on this site are my own

and don’t necessarily represent Esri’s position, strategies, or opinions.

1 0 491
  • Gas 20
  • Pipeline 12