esri utility network

Esri Utility Network – Brian’s Notes (A CliffsNotes Article)

January 1, 2017 — Brian Higgins

Before I grew up and became a blog post writer, I was a high-schooler surviving English class thanks to CliffsNotes. CliffsNotes enabled me to read Shakespeare’s Hamlet in 20-30 minutes.  That’s my first confession. My second confession is that I haven’t read a single SSP blog post related to the Esri Utility Network!

That all ends now.

As part my New Year’s resolution, I decided to read all 10 of the SSP articles about the Esri Utility Network. This article contains my CliffsNotes, or should I say, BriansNotes on each of the 10 articles.

1) How does Esri’s Roadmap Affect Me? (April 11, 2015) – Skye Perry

Skye’s words are often better than mine. These two excerpts summarize how the roadmap affects you:


  1. First, a wakeup call: The Esri Utility Network will be native to ArcGIS Pro. “ArcGIS Pro is not designed to edit against our ArcFM™ geodatabases or our geometric networks today.  Instead, Esri is working on a new model for facility networks, which will be natively managed via ArcGIS Pro upon its release.”  
  2. Second, if your utility has not upgraded to 10.2.1, it is highly suggested to do so. “Esri is going to hold 10.2.1 as the target version for all important updates related to ArcGIS Desktop for utility and telco customers until we have an upgrade path to the facility network.”  It is 10 o’clock. Do you know what version your database is on?

Other than upgrading to 10.2.1, Esri also suggests two more things. First, deploy a portal, such as ArcGIS Online and/or Portal for ArcGIS. Also, become familiar with ArcGIS Pro.

2) What You Need to Know About the Utility Network Update (July 12, 2016) – Ryan Potts

Pottsy’s post summarizes a session titled “Road Ahead for Utility and Telecom Network Management” from the 2016 Esri User Conference.  The key points are as follows:

  • New network model will enable the same expanded capabilities in multiple platforms (Desktop, Mobile, or Web).
  • End users will observe an enhanced performance from the “engine overhaul” and improved editing experience.
  • Future network solution will enable Esri partners to better leverage custom applications.
  • There will be flexibility in geometric networks through the sharing of infrastructure.
  • Enhanced tracing results of not only the feature type (i.e. Telecommunication, Electric), but also the features’ container (i.e. conduit/duct, support structure).
  • Users will have the capability to quickly create diagrams/schematics of selected features.
  • An exciting editing change is the addition of logic behind field default values. It should be noted that there are several others, but this one excited this author.
  • There will be Esri-provided scripts that users/business partners may leverage to migrate GIS data to the new model.

3) Esri Utility Network – Data Model 101 (August 9, 2016) – Skye Perry

Superb introduction to the Esri Utility Network (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Esri Utility Network

This blog post focuses on the Domain Network (highlighted in red above).  The term Domain should not be confused with field domains.  Think of these Domains as the previous geometric networks (i.e., electric, gas, telecommunications).  Often features that were contained within the geometric networks, were also contained within separate feature datasets.  Just like some utilities have separate geometric networks and feature datasets, once the data is migrated into the new model, they will have separate Domain Networks.

Feature classes (of a common geometric network) from the old model will be broken into the Device, Line, Junction, and Assembly feature classes (of a common Domain Network).  The new common feature classes will have separate AssetGroups (Figure 3) which segregate the classes into types (i.e., Transformer, DynamicProtectiveDevice).

Figure 3. Esri Utility Network: Assembly Feature Class

The previous Subtypes of feature class are now called AssetTypes (Figure 3).

The SubnetLine class will be maintained by the system and used to represent electric circuits, water pressure zones, etc.

4) Esri Utility Network – Introducing the Structure Network (September 13, 2016) – Skye Perry

This blog post focuses on the Structure Network (highlighted in Figure 4).

Figure 4. Esri Utility Network: Structure Network

The Structure Network is composed of the StructureJunction (points), StructureLine (lines), and StructureBoundary (polygons).  Features that were usually non-networked in the legacy model (i.e., poles, vaults, substations, etc) will belong here.  Unlike the Domain Network(s), there can be only one Structure Network that can be shared by multiple Domains.

The fields of AssetGroup and AssetType (discussed above) are utilized in the same manner as the Domain Network.

The legacy Relationships are now called Associations.  There are two types of Associations discussed in this post (note that there are a total of three):

  • Containment Association – In the case of a StructureBoundary … A substation could have an association with all the “stuff” within the razor wire fence.
  • Structural Attachment Association – Only supported by the StructureJunction.  A pole and its association with the attached transformers would be a good example.

5) Esri Utility Network – Modeling Device Terminals (September 28, 2016) – Skye Perry

This blog post focuses on the Domain Network Devices (highlighted in Figure 5).

Figure 5. Esri Utility Network: Domain Network Devices

Devices MAY contain Terminals.  Terminals are logical connection points of Devices which enable more realistic modeling of behavior (as compared to legacy geometric networking). A lengthy example of the behavior of a transformer and the use of Terminals is offered (Figure 6).

Figure 6. Esri Utility Network: Transformer will Illustrated Terminals

A third type of Association is introduced.  A Connectivity Association is leveraged to enable connectivity between features without geometric coincidence.

6) Esri Utility Network – Topology, Tiers, & Subnetworks, Oh My! (October 10, 2016) – Skye Perry

This blog post focuses on three different aspects of the Utility Network (highlighted in Figure 6).

Figure 6. Esri Utility Network: Breakdown of components of the Utility Network

A. The Rules enable a true network to function by identifying which features may be connected or Associated (via one of the three ways above) to other features.

B. The Network Topology is the modern-day equivalent of the legacy logical network.  It is designed to more efficiently traverse networks and conduct analysis.

C. Tiers offer a method to segregate Domain Networks into business-oriented levels.  In terms of electric, this could by Transmission, Primary, and Secondary Tiers.  Tiers themselves may be distinguished into multiple subnetworks.  Subnetworks will have at least one source OR at least one sink (BUT NOT BOTH).  In terms of electric, this can be considered the circuit with the circuit breaker being the source.

7) Esri Utility Network – Migrating Your Data into the Utility Network (October 21, 2016) – Skye Perry

Per the title, this post focuses on the migration procedure to getting an organizations legacy data to be compatible with the Utility Network.  To be compatible, the process must:

  • Respect the legacy geometric network to create a fully connected Utility Network model
  • Render the new Utility Network capabilities useable with the organization’s data
  • Allow the organization to make configuration changes

SSP’s process involves:

  • Mapping legacy data to the future Utility Network.
  • Migrate legacy data to staging 10.2.1 geodatabase for verification/approval.
  • Utilizing a utility to complete the final migration.

Skye, has lastly provided a 11 minute video demonstration of the migration process.

8) Esri Utility Network – Introducing Electric Tracing (November 3, 2016) – Skye Perry

This post looks at Utility Network tracing specific to electric.  The simplicity and performance enhancement of Subnetworks (described above) is outlined as they apply to electric circuits.  The benefits of circuits being maintained a single subnetwork layer cannot be overlooked, as opposed to attributes of multiple features of multiple feature classes.

Utilizing Esri’s Model Builder, SSP has automated certain electric tracing tools that those in the industry would expect (i.e. Full Connected, Upstream, Downstream, etc).  This automation includes the ability to include Structures and Containers in the trace results (Figure 7) due to the Associations with the Structure Network.

Figure 7. Esri Utility Network: Structure and Container Options

Skye made another 10 minute video demonstrating tracing in the Utility Network.

9) Esri Utility Network – Can You Trace by Phase  (November 25, 2016) – Skye Perry

Skye answered the question in this blog post….Can you trace by phase?  The answer is Yes.  Although not explicitly included with the OOTB ArcGIS Pro product, the functionality may be enabled with configuration.

Attributes may be configured to be “Network Attributes”.  Once indexed within the Network Topology (discussed earlier), the attribute may be used in subsequent traces.  Further demonstration screen grabs are offered (Figure 8) and a video.

Figure 8. Esri Utility Network: Demonstration of A-Phase Tracing

10) Esri Utility Network – Editing with Containment Associations  (December 12, 2016) – Skye Perry

This final blog post and associated video focus on Containment Associations.

First, a Group Feature Template enables the user to place and rotate multiple pre-configured features, such as a regulator Station, with a productive single click.  The Station features may then be registered as content of a container.  The container can be a simplistic point with the registered features invisible on the map. And it can have all the desired ArcGIS Pro functionality of those features.  To view the invisible features, all one has to do is click on the Container View to view.

Thank You for Reading BriansNotes on the Esri Utility Network

If you’re ready to get your hands on the Esri Utility Network, SSP has created a two-day Utility Network Jumpstart.  Click here to learn more.

As a final note, I highly recommend reading the original blog posts.  If I remember correctly, I don’t think my high school English grade was that outstanding.

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Brian Higgins

Brian Higgins is a Senior Consultant at the Utility & Telecommunications GIS consulting company SSP Innovations in Centennial, Colorado.  He is a certified Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP) with 22 years of experience in the design and development of GIS systems for the management of municipal infrastructure.


  • Brian,

    I want to thank you for doing a Cliff’s Notes break down of the
    ESRI Utility Network blogs. This really helped me to focus in on the primary focus of each article. Keep up the great work!

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