Getting Started with Digital Transformation Using ArcGIS

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Executive Summary

Maps have always been essential to understanding and improving the delivery of safe, clean drinking water and reliable sewer and stormwater services. An early example you may be familiar with is the 1854 cholera outbreak in London. Then, Dr. John Snow used maps to trace the cholera source to the Broad Street pump, which enabled authorities to take the contaminated well out of service and stop the outbreak. Today, water utilities continue to use maps to meet a wide variety of challenges related to issues such as regulatory compliance, water quality, aging infrastructure and the loss of staff members' expertise upon retirement.

Today, with modern advances in technology such as improved Internet connectivity and powerful mobile devices, digital mapping can be readily deployed at a utility and improve the efficiency of workflows across the organization. Despite the availability of all this technology, some small and rural water utilities continue to rely on paper maps and/or on long out-of-date digital maps. This reliance makes it more difficult to overcome common industry challenges and costlier to operate thus the need for digital transformation. The benefits of digital transformation are well-known—such as reducing operations costs, achieving more with less, making smarter asset management decisions, attaining better regulatory compliance, and having more satisfied customers.

Guide to Digital Transformation

For more information about how digital transformation benefits water utilities, please reference the white paper on how Web GIS supports a water utility.

With technology advancements and well-documented best practices, there has never been a better time for water utilities to get started with digital transformation.

This guide will help you create the following: a system of record for storing and managing assets; a system of engagement for enabling access to asset information on any device at any time; and a system of insight for analyzing information and making smarter, more informed decisions about asset management.


With a subscription to ArcGIS® Online, utilities can manage digital mapping content in the secure, cloud-based Esri® technology environment. Members of your organization can publish their data to ArcGIS Online and create web maps and apps that can be shared with whoever needs them. Existing ArcGIS Desktop customers who are current with their maintenance are entitled to ArcGIS Online. 

ArcGIS Solutions for Water is a collection of ArcGIS solutions that provide map and app configurations that enable common water utility mapping workflows that leverage spatial information. The ArcGIS Solutions for Water maps and apps are designed to be configurable and extensible to meet the unique needs of individual water utilities. 

They are freely available for water utilities to deploy on their licensed Esri software, and they are fully supported and maintained by Esri. New map and app configurations are continually being developed, and the source code is generally available for download. For more information, please see the white paper Implementing ArcGIS for Water Utilities.

ArcGIS Apps

ArcGIS includes several out-of-the-box applications that are designed to utilize web maps and provide additional functionality. Several apps are discussed throughout this guide. Below is a list of the apps with links to the product description and online help documentation:

ArcGIS Pro is a desktop geographic information system (GIS) application that is typically used by water utilities to edit data, perform sophisticated analysis, and create maps. It can also be used to configure ArcGIS for Water Solutions maps and apps using the ArcGIS Solutions Deployment tool. This ArcGIS Pro software-based tool automatically deploys the items, groups, feature layers, maps, and applications that make up a specific ArcGIS solution.

7 Steps to Get Started

To help make the entire process even easier, we have outlined seven steps to help you get stated with digital transformation of water data, using ArcGIS.

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