Utility Asset Modelling: ArcGIS enabling real-world network visualisation and monitoring

Gas utilities require information and data to support today’s complex networks, pro­vide a safe working environment, deliver reliable service and maintain a focus on customer support. Tools to analyse this data are equally important. Esri’s ArcGIS Utility Network is designed to be the next-generation spatial in­formation system, providing greater functionality for massive data sets. By leveraging the power of ArcGIS Enterprise, along with ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS AllSource, Esri provides tools that focus on user experience and improve communication across the utility.

Need for utility network

With the current trends, issues and behaviour changes across the utility market, modelling a complete utility network for a gas business po­ses various challenges. Analysing a distribution network involving consumers requires numerous assessments along with the formulation of a co­mplete connectivity model based on real-world scenarios.

System stability, environmental concerns and generation capacity are some of the significant concerns faced by gas utilities. From the user’s perspective, there is a need for optimal resource utilisation, access to real-time data, systems that can easily manage assets, and efficient operations, planning and monitoring, among others. Further, the recent integration of geographic in­formation system (GIS) with other systems, gro­w­ing cloud infrastructure, increased demand for cloud availability, and the need for internet of things and real-time data have highlighted the need for a system that offers comprehensive GIS solutions for gas utilities. Further, there is the need for all information and services to be available on the mobile.

ArcGIS Utility Network

The ArcGIS Utility Network is a complete GIS solution that caters to all concerns and trends. It is a system of insights, records and engagemen­ts that covers network modelling, network visualisation and network sharing, and can be carried out in all domains of the utilities.

ArcGIS comprises of a detailed utility modelling network scheme that provides a complete solution for gas utilities and is targeted towards enhancing efficiency and monitoring the downstream segment.

It is a solution-driven system that comprises of a detailed utility modelling network scheme. The scheme consists of the domain network, which, in this case, is gas. It is also available for other utility domains such as water, electricity, oil and gas, and telecom. Prior to this utility network, nu­merous customisations and modelling of asset relationships and asset behaviour were required. As a solution to the challenge of customising the geometric network, Esri provides a complete relationship model, connectivity model and various analysis capabilities within the model. Under this, a replica of real-world assets can be created, thereby enabling the modelling and monitoring of real-world assets and their behaviour.

The domain would include the components or the assets. For example, in the city gas distribution (CGD) network, the domain network encompasses everything from regulatory stations to valves, fittings and pipelines through the res­ource or the gas flows. All infrastructure under the network will be mapped into the devices. The network line consists of pipelines, while various fittings will be part of the junctions. The domains are supported by a structured network scheme. Thus, a strong relationship can exist between non-domain assets and domain gas assets. Once the completed utility network is modelled within the GIS, various inbuilt schematics and single-line diagrams become available, which facilitate holistic monitoring and analysis.

Benefits of ArcGIS Utility Network

The ArcGIS Utility Network has future-oriented capabilities. It supports real-world modelling and granular-level network modelling, and is capable of integrating with other business systems of utilities, thereby enabling a complete integrated utility solution. The ArcGIS Utility Network operates on top of the desktop solution, ArcGIS Pro. Thus, network analysis and tracing can be performed in the web and mobile applications, as it is device-agnostic. Once the network is created and published, it will be available from desktop to web, and from web to mobile. The Utility Network also enables the management of asset life-cycle stages and network creation can be carried out based on these stages. The utility network’s high-level architecture is based on the service, such that it can be accessed on any platform. Once published, the service can be edited on the mobile and web platforms, and can be visualised in the office as well.

Departments or functions such as asset development, management, pipeline integrity, operations, and health and safety can also be integrated with the ArcGIS Utility Network. Within the ArcGIS spectrum of applications, there are configurable apps available. This out-of-the-box solution can be further extended and customised using software development kits and application programming interfaces. This would enable all aspects of field operations.

ArcGIS supports realworld modelling and granular-level network modelling, and is capable of integrating with other business systems of utilities, thereby enabling a complete integrated utility solution.

The utility network has various properties. Within the pipeline network, which is a domain network scheme, there are devices, junctions and lines. Prior to this utility network, utilities were creating various layers and feature classes. Within this network, there are only six asset groups, which are the domain feature classes. This reduces the cluttering on maps that previously did not have asset groups and asset type bifurcations. Devices can now be mapped into the devices; junctions can be mapped into the junctions; and lines can be mapped into the lines.

The switch from the geometric network to the utility network enables user-friendly mapping. It enables features such as data integrity, validation and terminal configurations. Further, various trace configurations can also be added. Valve isolation traces, downstream traces or upstream traces from a particular point can also be carried out.

The Data Reviewer Server in the ArcGIS Utility Network can model the real world. For instance, when field reports or highlights indicate a user reporting a leak at a particular location, tracing can be done to identify which valves the user can operate from the field or determine the network affected by the leak. Various filters and functions are available to specifically trace the leak. Valves can be operated to isolate and facilitate maintenance in a particular area. Various isolated features can be included to identify affected assets due to the leak, and the complete network can be identified and isolated for maintenance. The desktop network, once published, can be accessed on the web to perform queries and analysis. The analysis can also be exported to software such as Excel and GeoJSON or into a feature collection for deriving further insights. The traces that were performed on the desktop can also be performed on the web, and due to its agnostic nature, the process can be carried out on mobile devices as well.

In sum

CGD players are increasingly embracing digitalisation and utilising advanced technologies in their processes. In addition to the need for integration with other systems, the widespread adoption of GIS in their processes has also enabled improved tracking and operation of activities. Thus, Esri’s ArcGIS provides a complete solution for gas utilities, which is targeted towards enhancing efficiency and monitoring the downstream segment. It en­ab­les integration with other business systems and supports complete real-world modelling. Va­rious advantages, including different access modes such as desktop, web and mobile, clu­b­bed with enhanced features, provide an all-round solution for utilities. This out-of-the-box offering has positive impacts on the gas segment. The increased use of the ArcGIS Utility Network can enable improved process monitoring and operations management through the integration of business systems.

Based on remarks by Manish Kumar Srivastava, Head, Utilities, Esri India Technologies Private Limited, at a recent India Infrastructure conference