esri utility network

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

April 10, 2018 — Brian Higgins Keith Freeman

If you watch Game of Thrones, you know Winter is Coming. Likewise, if you’re in the utility industry, you know the Utility Network is coming. With it, a ton of information. Where does one start their Esri Utility Network learning journey? Right here. We’ll share with you the path to Utility Network enlightenment.

Not long ago, we put out this CliffsNotes blog post (er Brian’s Notes) on the Utility Network. Why do this? With many of our writers having written so many blog posts on the Utility Network, Brian Higgins, decided to write CliffsNotes’ versions on each of them. It turned out to be one of our most popular articles. In retrospect, this is no surprise: the Utility Network is coming and with so much content out there, people desired direction on what exactly to read.

We’ve now updated this CliffsNotes blog post to include our most recent Utility Network articles since its initial release. If this is your first time reading this blog post, it’s all new to you — please enjoy. If this is your second pass, pay attention to the first five blog posts listed below. 

In addition to this article, we’ll be covering almost all of the topics below at our upcoming conference, iLLUMINATE. We hope you can join us!

Without further ado, here’s your updated CliffsNotes, er BriansNotes, on everything you need to know about the Utility Network.

– Keith Freeman

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 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. (Editor’s Note: updated to 15 articles now.)

1) Esri Utility Network – Simple and Scalable Network Data Model

Outstanding technical article that answers the questions, ‘How is the data organized within the utility network?’ and “What will happen with my current data as I migrate from the Geometric Network to the Utility Network?’ Here’s the CliffsNotes summary:

  1. The Utility Network model is much simpler and more scalable than the Geometric Network model.
  2. There are two networks in the Utility Network model to include Structure (i.e. supporting infrastructure) and Domain (i.e. assets delivering the goods).
  3. Contained within the networks, there are seven feature classes (for modeling use) with common attributes of each. The fields ASSETGROUP and ASSETTYPE enable the conversion from any source geometric network feature class.
  4. For utilities, the “Meat” of the of the Utility Network model comes from the custom attributes which are very similar to Geometric Network in terms of type and domain assignment.
  5. Custom Attributes can influence network-specific traces (i.e. upstream/downstream) and validation rules (i.e. size of pipe and snapped fittings).

2) Versioning for Dummies (Pt. 5): Branch Versioning in the Utility Network

Based on our most popular series of all time, we summarize the difference between the older, traditional delta versioning and the newer branch versioning for the utility network.

To summarize the summary:

  1. End user experience with Versioning (i.e. creation, reconcile, posting) has not changed. Only the underlying infrastructure.
  2. By maintaining versions as a function of time (temporal moment), Branch Versioning offers numerous advantages.
  3. What went “Bye Bye”: A&D tables, state id, state tree, and state_lineages table. Thank goodness!!!
  4. Say “Hello” to Branch Versioning with only six additional fields to the feature class base table.
  5. Every edit to a feature class is maintained as a new row to the base table.
  6. SSP’s Lifecycle may be used to manage Versioning where the end user interacts only with “Jobs.”

3) Your Utility Network Checklist: Explore the Utility Network with Your Own Data

Great article that summarizes the initial tasks to develop a transitional utility network conversion plan based upon specific knowledge instead of guesses. Any legacy third-party system (either GIS or non-GIS) must be evaluated for its functionality with the utility network prior to conversion. This article walks one through the process.

For those organizations who would like to transition to the utility network at their own pace and comfort level, SSP created SSP Sync. Sync allows an organization to stay and edit at ArcGIS 10.2.1 while tinkering with the utility network at the same time.  Daily changes to the database are promoted nightly to a utility network database which keeps the systems in “Sync.”

Sync allows a preview (including the testing of older customized code) of how the geometric network data will look in the new environment.  Staff may train on the system prior to GO LIVE. This “Test Drive” also offers the utility the ability to fix identified geometric network issues and observe subsequent behavior after the nightly sync. It will also allow for modeling, QAQC, and reporting changes as requirements are identified.

4) Utility Network Management for Gas: An Introduction

Electric gets most of the focus, but we’re taking the time to write about the Utility Network that is specifically geared toward Gas. Esri (and industry leaders) have created a Utility and Pipeline Model (UPDM) template. This template supports the ArcGIS Utility Network Management Extension which satisfies many Esri gas customer requests. It is made up of five feature classes within the Gas-Specific Domain Network. The AssetGroup and AssetType field attributes further segregate the Gas feature classes into the asset being represented.


Utility Network Data Model - Utility Network Management for Gas

The standard UPDM Model has three tiers as follows:  System Tier, Pressure Tier, and Isolation Tier.  Each allow for quick analysis and tracing of applicable gas features.

5) The Utility Network Advantage Program – Why, What, and How?

We all know the utility network is coming, but have you asked yourself why it’s coming? This article looks to answer that question and many others, all leading to the bigger question: What should I be doing today to ensure I can safely transition to the Utility Network and get the most value from my GIS in the next decade?

This article looks into a service package that maps out a utility network transition plan, that can be broken into two distinct phases:

  1. Planning Phase – Creation of a comprehensive Utility Network Transition Strategy and Roadmap
  2. Implementation Phase – Involves three components
    1. The data design, correction, and migration
    2. Utility Network and ArcGIS Pro implementation and integration
    3. Application and editing tools development

6) How does Esri’s Roadmap Affect Me?

These two excerpts do a great job to 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.

7) What You Need to Know About the Utility Network Update

This 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.

8) Esri Utility Network – Data Model 101

Superb introduction to the Esri Utility Network data model.

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.

9) Esri Utility Network – Introducing the Structure Network

This blog post focuses on the Structure Network.

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.

10) Esri Utility Network – Modeling Device Terminals

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

11) Esri Utility Network – Topology, Tiers, & Subnetworks, Oh My!

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.

12) Esri Utility Network – Migrating Your Data into the Utility Network

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.

Lastly, look for a 11 minute video demonstration of the migration process.

13) Esri Utility Network – Introducing Electric Tracing

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

Look for a 10 minute video demonstrating tracing in the Utility Network.

14) Esri Utility Network – Can You Trace by Phase

This post answers the question: 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

15) Esri Utility Network – Editing with Containment Associations

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.

We Wrote the Book

The Indispensible Guide to ArcGIS Online

Download It for Free

Brian Higgins

Solution Architect

Keith Freeman

Director of Marketing More by this author


  • 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!

What do you think?

Leave a comment, and share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.