Putting the Utility Network to the Test: A Proof-of-Concept Project
Pidpa operates the public water distribution network for a large part of the province of Antwerp, making it one of the largest water companies in Belgium. The organization is responsible for the drinking water supply of no less than 1.2 million people in 65 municipalities and for sewer management in 34 municipalities. Pidpa logically invests a lot of time and resources in managing this network.
Customer - Pidpa, one of the largest water companies in Belgium.
Partner - Tensing consultants, a thought leader at the interface of data and spatial information.
Challenge - Replace third-party applications and custom-made exentions to their GIS.
Solution - Implementation of the Utility Network, field data collection and improved analytics.
Result - Custom extensions have been replaced, creation and editing of data is improved and information is more readily available to staff.
Pidpa uses Esri software, third-party applications, and custom-made extensions to model its GIS data for the drinking water network. GIS network editing is done in the office, still partly using a paper-based workflow to capture asset modifications made by field crews. With increased use, accurate and up-to-date GIS data was becoming more and more important. Therefore, the following were on the wish list for a step toward a next generation GIS:
- Instant collection of data in the field, at the level of detail that would eliminate the remaining paper workflow
- More extensive analysis being performed by the network
- Replacement of custom applications with standard functionality and simplification of the IT landscape
Tensing consultants help organizations on a daily basis through state-of-the-art solutions based on the ArcGIS platform. For over 30 years, Tensing has been a thought leader at the interface of data and spatial information. Tensing is an Esri Gold Partner and has the largest certified team of all Esri partners in the Benelux. For more information, visit www.tensing.com.
Project Team: The project team consisted of employees from Pidpa's GIS department and geographic information system (GIS) consultants from both Tensing and Esri Nederland, Esri's distributor in the Netherlands.
A migration to Esri's ArcGIS Utility Network seemed a logical evolution for Pidpa, as it would bring the organization more possibilities for further integration of GIS. Moreover, it would simplify the IT landscape, making it easier for the GIS department to maintain and respond even quicker to user requests for new functionality. Between October 2019 and March 2020, a proof of concept (POC) was carried out, with the support of specialists from Tensing and Esri, to test new functionalities and estimate the effort required for data migration. In total, about 80 use cases were tested, divided into three categories:
- Desktop (editing) environment
- Web GIS
A geometric network was provided by one representative municipality. This data was migrated to the ArcGIS Utility Network.
The extensive configuration options of the Utility Network have proved sufficient to replace almost all current custom additions in the desktop environment. The additional upgrade of ArcGIS Enterprise and further integration with the Web GIS philosophy allows users greater insight into geographic data. In addition, the utilization of specific apps makes it possible to provide this data in an insightful way to users who do not use GIS on a daily basis. Workflows for network feature creation and editing could be simplified by using new capabilities in the platform. With the results and lessons learned from this POC, the next step toward the full implementation of Utility Network at Pidpa has been scoped and started with the aim of bringing it into production by early 2021.
Both parties learn from each other. Thanks to Tensing consultants, who are realizing solutions on our ArcGIS platform at a rapid pace, Pidpa has a future-proof GIS solution in-house. We look forward to the next steps in our collaboration to further broaden and optimize the use of GIS within Pidpa. The point of departure here is that new techniques can be used by everyone [to] directly add value to the organization and processes.