Since it was announced in 2017, Esri’s ArcGIS Utility Network (UN) has been on the minds of many in the GIS community. Because of the massive impact the move to the UN is having on many organizations, it was an incredibly hot topic at this year’s Esri User Conference. We’ve been working hard over the last few years to make the move as painless as possible for our customers by supporting synchronization efforts and have learned a lot about what the transition process typically looks like. The topic of UN readiness and the planning to get there is not isolated to the excellent conference held last month; it’s become a part of many of our discussions in day-to-day operations.
Like any large project, to successfully complete the UN move, a well-designed plan sets the foundation for success. The path to the UN differs for every organization, but there are a few items that every organization should keep in mind when creating one. Here are three considerations your organization should be thinking about before and throughout your move from Esri’s Geometric Network (GN) to the UN.
1) Is the Move Necessary?
Although the UN offers many features that simply aren’t available on the GN, you should still consider whether your organization really needs the extra functionality. It’s important to keep in mind that the move to the UN can take years for large organizations, so if your GN workload is already running smoothly and you don’t absolutely need features like version control and the ability to access your network from any device, the energy put towards upgrading to the UN could be better utilized elsewhere.
In most cases, however, the move to the UN is worth the commitment – and maybe even required. With improved tools to monitor network performance, more ways to access data on the go, and displaying assets in 3D (among many more features), the UN is packed with new additions that are sure to improve the GIS capabilities of many organizations. Plus, now that the UN is here, it’s only going to get more powerful as updates are implemented in the coming years – but that also means the GN’s time is limited. Formal ArcMap support ends in March 2026. It’s up to you to determine if the UN’s new features and guaranteed support are worth the necessary cost and time required to complete the move.
2) Collaborate Within Your Organization
The UN move is going to affect the workloads of just about everyone in your organization, so it’s vital that employees are working across teams to prepare for the coming changes. This shouldn’t be a project that’s spearheaded by one team while others get left behind. It’s important to note that the move isn’t going to be instant – it’s an iterative process that will slowly reveal what works for your organization and what doesn’t, so there’s going to be some lessons learned by everyone along the way.
The UN also comes with benefits that should aid in collaboration across teams – including its service-based model. Because the UN is built for use on web and mobile clients, functionality that was previously only accessible via desktop systems is now available wherever your teams are working from. Teams doing field work will be able to access, add to, and amend data from anywhere and from many more devices, which opens all kinds of possibilities for teams both away from and inside the office. Taking advantage of this flexibility and designing a plan for synchronizing the data created through this new mobile flexibility will be key to keeping all teams and systems aligned.
3) Ensure Data & Integration Integrity
If you’re not using an integration solution, the move to the UN is going to be more difficult, time-consuming, and potentially riskier if you don’t have a concrete plan for ensuring the integrity of your data throughout the move. While implementing a productized integration solution like the Geonexus Integration Platform is always a great idea, we strongly recommend any organization moving to the UN do so with the help of integrated systems.
The most essential part of any successful GIS is accurate, up-to-date, accessible data. We know this better than just about anyone, which is why we’re recognized as a proven solution for the UN, providing bi-directional synchronization to both the GN and the UN through out-of-the-box connectors to other popular systems. As your organization works through the move to the UN, you’re likely going to be using the GN and the UN at the same time – the Geonexus Integration Platform ensures that your data is synchronized between both systems so you can access it from either system wherever you need to. We’ve already covered this topic in more detail, which you can check out at our blog post on our role in the UN migration process.
During the move, there’s also a chance you’ll run into an issue many organizations are experiencing: some of your frequently used applications that are compatible with the GN might not be supported by the UN yet. Losing access to vital applications simply isn’t feasible for many organizations. In addition to reinforcing the integrity of your GN data through synchronization of the GN and UN, the Geonexus Integration Platform will provide data integrity with those systems or application integrations connected to the GN. Even if some of the systems your organization depends on aren’t officially supported by the UN, our platform allows you to keep using them during and after your move to the UN through this synchronization of data back to the GN.
As your organization begins or continues the move to the UN, these three elements will help you be prepared for the difficult (yet rewarding) task ahead of you. No matter how you decide to approach the move to the UN, we recommend implementing a productized integration solution from Geonexus to make sure your systems and data stay intact throughout the process.
At Geonexus, our mission is to ensure the integrity and reliability of enterprise data to support effective decision-making. The Geonexus Integration Platform is an enterprise-grade integration platform that’s easy to use, reliable and includes out-of-the-box connectors for Esri® ArcGIS®, IBM® Maximo, SAP®, ABB® Ellipse, Oracle® Utilities, HxGN® EAM®, and other leading enterprise systems. Asset-intensive organizations across the globe use the Geonexus Integration Platform in industries including utilities, telecommunications, pipeline, transportation, and government.
To learn more about how Geonexus can fill your organization’s integration needs, reach out today!