Does your current network GIS data perfectly reflect everything that exists out in the field? If the answer is yes, send me your mailing address and I’ll ship you a medal. If like most utilities the answer is no, the ArcGIS platform offers a configurable solution to assist. It no longer takes weeks or months to deploy a basic redline/sketching or map notes application for recording and collecting those discrepancies. In a short amount of time, you could have a powerful, redlining application deployed to all of your field crews. Collected data is then visible back in the office immediately.
Utilities of all sizes have expressed a need to conduct basic sketching or note taking in the field. With recent updates to Collector for ArcGIS that includes support for related tables, it is now possible to create detailed sketching and note taking schemas for any workflow. The sketches/redlines can be configured for ad-hoc collection or related to specific assets. If crews were conducting a pole inspection and wanted to include redlines, you could easily relate all of the redline records back to the individual poles for more integrated record keeping and data management.
The first step in any data creation is creating the schema, or design of how your database is going to be structured. In this example, the redlines were not related to any assets to allow it to be used as an ad-hoc sketching and map notes solution (see Figure 1). The redline record is then related back to as many sketch features as you can dream up. In this example, we have a label point as well as polylines and polygons symbolized by a solid or dashed red color.
Out in the field, a crew member comes across a new apartment complex that shows no service on the network map. The buildings were constructed more than a year ago, but this information has not yet made it into the GIS. Opening Collector in a connected or disconnected mode, the crew member opens up the redline web map and creates a new redline record feature. After that feature is created, the user clicks on that point and then starts adding any related sketch features (see Figure 2). The employee add a few photos, a label, and some notes and completes the note in under a minute.
Back in the office, the asset management department has a dashboard showing newly collected sketches and redlines sorted by date/time and they have access to all of these records seconds after they are collected. After the issue has been addressed, they can open up the redline record, and change its status to closed for archiving.
Leveraging web maps across the ArcGIS platform gives you the ability to quickly create workflows that were once very complex to deploy. It no longer takes weeks or months to deploy a customized redline solution to all of your field crews. The cost can now be counted in hours.
Brian Baldwin is a Technical Evangelist at Esri and has been working in the GIS and geospatial industry for more than 13 years.