New FME Plug-in provides a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) tool for ArcGIS Utility Network migration and synchronization. 

July 12, 2021 

SBS is pleased to announce our latest FME plug-in, the SpatialBiz Plug-in for ArcGIS Utility Network. We have leveraged our decades of experience with the Safe Software FME product, along with the extensive experience we have with ArcGIS Utility Network and networked GIS technologies, to create a specialized product offering for the migration and synchronization of ArcGIS Utility Network data.   

You may ask, why do we need this? There are a variety of tools already available from Safe Software, Esri, and several other quality organizations in our industry. The answer is simple:  We believe that a lot more can be done to automate Utility Network data integration into enterprise environments. While we are excited about what we have developed, we believe it is just the beginning of what can be done to integrate networked infrastructure information into mainstream as well as specialty information systems. The intention of this post is to explain the challenges our industry has had in Utility Network migration and the approach we have taken to mitigate these issues.   

Without getting into the technical weeds, we believe there are three main issues that need to be solved: 

  • Reduction in migration complexity.  
  • Support for Utility Network synchronization and interoperability.  
  • Need for a productized, user supportable solution.   

Reduction in Migration Complexity 

To date, Utility Network migrations have involved a lot of discovery, sometimes by trial and error, regarding the best approaches that need to be taken to create useful network data. Many challenges have been identified in areas such as how to approach network modeling how to deal with incomplete network data, and how to ensure that the migrations ultimately address business needs while ensuring the fundamental requirements of data quality and system scalability. The projects have been complex and costly, which is not unexpected when adopting new technologies. Now that Utility Network is being more widely deployed, there is a great opportunity to capitalize on the lessons learned.   

SBS has chosen to build a highly automated tool on the Safe Software FME platform to address these issues of complexity. FME has a practical, easy-to-use interface, and thousands of people are trained in how to use the system every year. This moves the task of migration away from programmers and deep technical experts over to talented, geospatially literate technical professionals. We have created the following plug-in features to streamline the complexity: 

  • Support for ArcGIS Utility Network connectivity, attachment, and containment associations. 
  • Access to system table data including diagram junction layers, container layers, rules, subnetworks, and domains. 
  • Continued focus on automating and removing complexity throughout the workflow. 
  • Built in support for ArcPro Templates that can be created directly from FME. 

Support for Utility Network Synchronization and Interoperability 

SBS staff have been involved with geospatial system migration for over thirty years. During that time, we have learned that organizations adapt to new systems much more effectively when they can do a gradual transition rather than a “big bang.” The ability to synchronize data between the existing and target system becomes a critical factor to support this kind of risk-managed transition. Key to this is the ability to support difference management between systems and incremental updates. The following innovative features enable this in the ArcGIS Utility Network plug-in:   

  • Global ID support. A Global ID registry is leveraged to record source to Utility Network mappings, ensuring consistent identification of feature keys to support synchronization transactions. 
  • Incremental and point-in-time extraction. 
  • Where clause support.  
  • Transactional tolerance to ensure successful job completion. In this mode, transactions are validated and adjusted to prevent potential rejection. 
  • Advanced ordering logic to ensure that feature creation conforms to Utility Network rules and constraints, leading to high-integrity network builds with reduced Dirty Area cleanup. 

SBS has also included the fundamental building blocks to support two-way synchronization. While we have seen limited need for this level of interoperability, we welcome the opportunity to explore these use cases with interested clients.   

A Productized, User Supportable Solution 

One of the most important business requirements is having a fully supported, product-level solution that will continue to be maintained and enhanced. Many of the tools in our community have been ad hoc, project-oriented developments that evolve from project to project; they change as more is learned about Utility Network migration, and often the knowledge is dependent on the knowledge of the delivery personnel. Esri is also heavily involved in improving the base capabilities of Utility Network, which requires ongoing enhancements to the migration tools. SBS has been providing productized FME plug-ins for over fifteen years; it is a core competency for our organization.   

We hope we have piqued your interest in this exciting new product from SBS. Please reach out to us to discuss your needs related to Utility Network migration.   


About SBS 

SBS provides software and service solutions that help infrastructure owners and engineering firms maximize their investment in CAD, GIS, and other information systems. 

The company has helped over 300 utility, telecommunications, and government entities streamline their business processes and reduce costs through their innovative offerings. With offices in Denver, Colorado and Melbourne, Australia, SBS provides world-class products, expert-level consulting skills, and extensive experience in working with integrated design solutions and the unique engineering aspects of modeling networked infrastructure environments.