GIS Solutions for a Growing Issue

As our cities continue to grow at a seemingly endless rate our need to understand, monitor, build and replace infrastructure is becoming a main issue at every level of government throughout the country. Having a well maintained utility system ensures a quality of life for the community. Connecting policy makers and the public with quality data that can be defensible, quickly deciphered and easily visualized is key in investing valuable dollars in the most crucial areas of a community’s infrastructure. Below are two examples of how utilizing GIS can help make sense of a utility network.

The Geometric Network is a multi-faceted tool that can help to understand the complexities of a living, breathing infrastructure system. Using a water distribution system as an example, one can perform a series of analyses to further strengthen the connectivity of the system in an established GIS framework. The geometric network resides within a geodatabase. When creating the network, import all the assets associated with the network (water mains, water service line, hydrants, valves, etc.). Once established, run a trace on the network to detect any disconnected assets. Set up barriers, which could be main breaks, to understand which valves need to be turned off to perform maintenance. Weights can be added to the network such as length of pipe to understand pipe roughness. Several other analyses can be performed to manage a utility system through this GIS technique making managing a utility system more streamlined.

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The figure above gives a few examples of how to utilize a Geometric Network.

Tracking new developments and replacement projects alike can be an ever growing challenge. Capital improvement planning is done on a case by case basis for each community for many reasons, but the overall goal is the same: use money as efficiently as possible. One GIS solution is the Capital Improvement Planning add-in, to create and maintain records of capital improvement projects. This system can combine cost and infrastructure details more fluently than having information stored in the attribute table of a feature class. By having a system devoted to planning purposes the almighty dollar can be spent more wisely.

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The figure above shows the Capital Improvement Planning add-in. Notice how the tabular information is displayed.

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