The ArcGIS Utility Network Data Model: what local governments need to know

The ArcGIS Utility Network Data Model: what local governments need to know

ESRI has announced the release of the Utility Network Data Model, which lets users create, manage, and share wet and dry utility asset data. Organizations using the Local Government Information Model or looking to enter the world of utility GIS may be wondering what this means for them. WithersRavenel has the scoop on what the Utility Network Data Model is, how it will benefit you, and what you need to know before you start making the switch.

What is the Utility Network Data Model?

The Utility Network Data Model (UNDM) is a framework for organizing your electric, water, wastewater, gas, district heating, and telecommunications asset data.

Like the Local Government Information Model (LGIM), this new model aims to standardize the fields and attributes used to capture and describe assets. The UNDM goes a step further by setting standards for more types of data.

For example, in the LGIM, a wastewater treatment plant may have been represented by a single intake point and a single outflow point. In the UNDM, a wastewater treatment plant can be represented by a series of interconnected assemblies that include pipes, valves, motors, and electrical junctions.

Connectivity is essential in the UNDM. Connecting utility assets in GIS the same way they are connected in the field creates a “digital twin” of the physical utility system an opens up a new realm of mapping, modeling, and planning possibilities.

Why choose the Utility Network Data Model?

The UNDM offers significant advantages, including built-in 3D visualization and modeling capabilities. Users have access to shortcuts, templates, and streamlined workflows inside the software to simulate and mine the behavior of their networks.

GIS data organized using the UNDM also imports more smoothly into other software such the hydraulic modeling tools WaterCAD, WaterGEMS, and Innovyze. Before, modeling experts could only expect to import basic data from GIS, and then they had to modify or add to the data to make their models run. Now, the GIS dataset is comprehensive enough to work in multiple environments; it functions as the authoritative dataset, with little or no need to reconcile changes between platforms.

How can WithersRavenel help?

WithersRavenel can prepare your data and your staff to transition to the Utility Network Data Model. We can:

  • Check for issues with existing data,
  • Flag issues for review and cleanup,
  • Recommend other steps to make sure you can take advantage of the robust asset management feature set ESRI is developing, and
  • Train your desktop and field staff on best practices for collecting, importing, tagging, and updating asset data.

WithersRavenel has already begun this process with the City of Wilson. Wilson, widely regarded as a pioneer in the GIS field, chose us to perform a data readiness assessment and create a Geospatial Strategic Plan for their upcoming utility network migration. The plan outlines a phased update process followed by pilot migrations and later full migrations of water, sewer, and stormwater datasets.

The plan also identifies challenges the City can expect to face while migrating and strategies for handling them. This advance notice has given staff peace of mind that small delays or minor course corrections do not have to become major setbacks.

What’s next?

No matter where you are in your asset management journey, WithersRavenel can help you take the next step. Our GIS professionals can help you audit your existing data, identify your needs and goals, and develop a plan for success. Contact Director of Asset Management Brandon Inscore at (919) 535-5134 or binscore@withesravenel.com to move your asset management program forward.