UPDM FAQ: Utility Pipeline Data Model Frequently Asked Questions, Answered

November 10, 2017 — Wendy Nash

When Esri released the Utility Pipeline Data Model (UPDM) earlier this year, SSP Innovations was on the forefront of migrating utilities to the new data model. We’ve already migrated pipeline operators and gas utilities from the Smallworld, PODS, and APDM databases into UPDM. These UPDM FAQ stemmed from our own learnings during the migrations as well as from clients currently migrating and interested in migrating to UPDM.

Why should pipeline operators and gas utilities transition to UPDM?

The model is a truly out-of-the-box (OOTB) solution for pipeline management. Esri created the UPDM as a best practice approach. UPDM provides a comprehensive Esri solution for all systems from the field to transmission and distribution pipelines. It is a vertical integration approach, meaning from wellhead to customer meter. There is no longer the need for complicated and costly solutions for integration. The scalability factor for any size company, ease of use and integration of Esri products (ArcGIS Pro, APR).

We have two databases (transmission and distribution) that we manage. Would migrating to one database be complicated?

UPDM is a geodatabase schema template initially designed for operators of gas pipe networks that have both distribution and transmission assets. The data model evolved due to combined utilities needing one data model to manage both distribution and transmission data. With it being a true out-of-the-box solution, the ease of integration, ease of use, and benefit of eliminating redundant data is worth the migration. Also, in the long run you would be saving time and effort of maintaining two databases.

If my organization is not ready for an upgrade to ArcGIS 10.5.x, what would be a good phased approach?

SSP will start a phased approach to your migration with several steps. First, SSP starts with your transmission assets by creating a mapping document from your current database(s) to UPDM. An internal review of the mapping document would become your preliminary step.

Next, we load the data from your current database into UPDM, which renders your data linearly referenced. The next best practice is to implement ArcGIS 10.5.x on a desktop and/or server with ArcGIS Pro, because the Esri applications let you manage linearly referenced assets. Now, your teams can start using the new APR tools! Plus, having the 10.5.x technology and UPDM in place from your transmission migration allows for your IT and GIS groups to become comfortable with the move and plan accordingly for the larger distribution initiatives.

Since transmission assets ultimately have shared feature classes with distribution (e.g., P_Pipes), your organization can start reviewing the UPDM schema and technology for your future distribution management. SSP will help you fully design and manage a multi-year plan for distribution migration, followed by a full upgrade.

Do you see companies having to perform a lot of extensions to the base UPDM model for production implementations?

UPDM is a templatized model provided by Esri that provides a schema for the base assets and integrity elements. In each migration or implementation that SSP has completed, we have seen a variety of extensions that were needed to accommodate data from existing environments. In most cases, it’s mainly domains and additional attribution, but for other operators we have expanded the P_Integrity feature dataset to accommodate additional IMP data and transmission specific feature classes.

My company only has transmission pipe — is UPDM the right option or should I wait for PODS Next Gen to be released?

This isn’t quite as clear cut as you would think and often it depends on the current model that your organization is utilizing. If you’re currently using PODS, it would be an easier transition to PODS Next Gen, but keep in mind we are also waiting for the full release. With UPDM having been released and in production, third party software companies have been able to build HCA, Class, Risk and MAOP tools that can support UPDM today. It also depends on your desired timing for the project: Is this an early 2018 project, in which case we may recommend looking at UPDM, or do we have some time to plan and get your data and applications running on PODS Next Gen? Understanding your current environment and project schedule will help determine the best course of action.

What are the benefits of UPDM?

UPDM eliminates the management of duel editing and asset representation of what was formerly two databases. UPDM has one location to store historical information — one enterprise database, which allows a centralized managed network for analytics (e.g., traceability, emergency shutdown analysis, outage management, and risk).

In addition, the data model has improved performance which reduces the time it takes SQL queries to be returned. The improvement of data quality checks with the integration of ArcGIS Pro allows quick validation of your data. Also, continued maintenance and enhancements from Esri provided from feedback from companies and operators.

Have a question we didn’t answer? Submit your UPDM FAQ

Leave your question in the comments below or reach out directly to pipeline@sspinnovations.com

Still have further questions? SSP’s APR Jumpstart could be a solution to pilot your organization’s next move

SSP’s ArcGIS Pipeline Referencing (APR) Jumpstart can make your transition into the Esri stack easier. The SSP APR Jumpstart includes a fully hosted or on-premise sandbox, a subset of your data set up in APR, and intensive training session. Click here for further APR Jumpstart information.

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Wendy Nash is a Senior GIS Analyst at the Utility, Telecommunications and Pipeline GIS consulting company SSP Innovations in Centennial, Colorado and has been working in GIS-centered implementations and projects since 2001. Wendy has experience working in local government, civil engineering, and pipeline GIS companies.

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