Utility network vocabulary

Essential utility network terms are listed along with their descriptions.


Analytics is the process of using the utility network topology to answer questions or solve problems. Examples include answering topological questions with utility network traces, analyzing the dependencies between objects using associations, or creating schematic representations of the logical network using network diagrams).


Assemblies are point features that act as containers for other network features such as devices and junctions. This allows for the collection of network features and their connectivity to be represented as a single symbol on the map. You can view the content of an assembly on the map using containment edit mode or in a network diagram. Examples of assembly features are switchgears, transformer banks, and pump assemblies.

To learn more, see Classes in a domain network.

Asset group

The asset group attribute represents the major classification of utility network classes. The ASSETGROUP field is part of the schema for all classes in the structure network and domain network, except for the SubnetLine feature class. The ASSETGROUP field is also required to be the subtype field for each utility network class, meaning that each subtype in a utility network class is also an asset group. Further classification of assets is accomplished by assigning attribute domains at the subtype level on the ASSETTYPE field.

To learn more, see Utility feature classification.

Asset package

An asset package is a specially formatted file geodatabase that models the schema, properties, related layers, related tables, and data of a utility network developed by the ArcGIS Solutions team. This is used as an intermediate format for staging data during conversion. It is used in conjunction with the Utility Network Asset Package Tools, also developed by ArcGIS Solutions, for both single-user and enterprise deployments.

To learn more, see Introduction to the asset package.

Asset type

The asset type attribute represents the minor classification of utility network classes. This allows further classification for each asset group. The ASSETTYPE field is part of the schema for all classes in the structure and domain network, except the SubnetLine feature class. To extend the classification of assets, attribute domains are assigned on the ASSETTYPE field at the subtype level (asset group) for each network class. This allows for a rich classification of network features using the asset group as a major classification and asset type as a minor classification.

To learn more, see Utility feature classification.


Associations model a special type of relationship between two utility network objects. These relationships either represent connectivity, containment, or structural attachment. The types of associations you can create between spatial and nonspatial objects are controlled by the feature restrictions of the utility network. The connectivity rules of the utility network also allow you to define which types of associations between different asset types in the model are considered valid.

Learn more about associations

Attribute rules

Attribute rules are user-defined rules that can be used to automatically populate attributes, restrict invalid edits during edit operations, and perform quality assurance checks on existing features.

Learn more about attribute rules.

Attribute substitution

Attribute substitution allows the value of a network attribute with the attribute substitution network category assigned to change (or substitute) the values propagated by attribute propagation using a substitution operation instead of the operation defined for the propagator. The resulting substitution value is then used to calculate the value for the next connected features.

Learn more about attribute substitution.

Calculation attribute rule

Calculation rules are used to automatically populate an attribute on a network feature. They can be configured to fire immediately as immediate calculation rules or they have their evaluation deferred as batch calculation rules. Rules can be configured to fire during create, update, and delete events.

Learn more about calculation attribute rules.

Complex edge

A complex edge allows resources to flow in or out along the edge without the need to physically split the edge. This behavior is supported by configuring an edge to allow midspan connectivity.

Condition barrier

A condition barrier is an expression that is used to dynamically set barriers during analysis. The expression is based on network attributes or categories; for example, stop at all closed devices in a water network. When a network feature meets the condition set in the expression, the trace, update subnetwork, or export subnetwork operation does not continue to the next feature or object.

Learn more about condition barriers.


Conflicts occur in branch versioning when the same network feature or topologically related network features are edited in two versions. If the edits from one of the versions is posted to default and the second version is reconciled, conflicts will appear for any network features that were modified in both versions. Because it is unclear which representation of the feature class or nonspatial object is valid, a user or process must resolve the conflicts in favor of either the edit version or the target (default) version.

Learn more about how to manage branch version conflicts.


Connectivity describes the state in which two network features are considered connected through either geometric coincident-based connectivity or are connected through a connectivity association. When you connect network features through a shared endpoint, vertex, or point (common x-, y-, and z-values), they have implicit connectivity. When you connect features or objects through a connectivity association and they are not spatially coincident, they have explicit connectivity.

As an example, a pump placed at the end of a water pipe has implicit connectivity to the water pipe because of the shared location.

Learn more about connectivity and traversability

Connectivity associations

Connectivity associations allow you to model the connectivity between network features that are not coincident. They can also be used to create connectivity between spatial features and nonspatial junction and edge objects.

  • Junction-junction connectivity associations are used to establish explicit connectivity between two point features or junction objects.
  • Junction-edge connectivity associations are used to allow point and line features to connect through geometric coincidence (features are at the same x,y,z location), or allow an edge object to connect with point features or junction objects.
  • Edge-junction-edge connectivity associations are used to allow a line to connect to either side of a point feature, or they are used to allow an edge object to connect with another line or edge object through a point feature or junction object.

Learn more about connectivity associations

Connectivity rules

A collection of network rules that are defined in each utility network which govern the types of network features that can connect or associate. These rules are defined based on business practices and are used in conjunction with feature restrictions to manage the correctness of assets in your network. Connectivity rules are enforced by snapping and the Validate Topology tool.

Learn more about connectivity rules


A container is a network feature that contains one or more features or objects. Maps normally display containers and hide content; however, the content is available and used for tracing analysis. You can connect network features inside a container to features or objects outside a container.

Electrical substations and pumping stations are examples of container features.

Learn more about containment associations

Containment edit mode

Containment edit mode is enabled using the Enter Containment command in the Associations group on the Utility Network tab. In this mode, created features that have a supporting rule are automatically added to the active container as content. Editing in containment edit mode shows what network features are inside the active container and how they are connected. Analysis results are also shown inside the container view.

While editing an assembly of features, you will usually enter containment edit mode. New features that are created are automatically added as content for the assembly.

Learn more about containment edit mode

Containment associations

Containment associations are used to establish a relationship between a container and its content. Containment allows a dense collection of features to be represented by a single feature. For example, devices, wires, and conductors can be placed inside of features such as substations, switch gears, trenches, and ducts. Content features can be shown or hidden in the map view to improve visibility and reduce map clutter. Features or nonspatial objects that contain other network features are known as a container and the features or objects being contained are known as content.

Learn more about containment associations

Containment association rule

Containment association rules are a type of network rule that constrains which types of features and objects can be contained in another feature or object (container). Network rules are stored at the utility network level. This allows you to contain features and objects from different domain networks in the same container; for example, rules could be configured to contain gas pipes and water mains in the same trench.

Learn more about containment association rules


A network feature contained by another feature or object in a containment association is considered content. This is configured through a containment association rule that defines which types of network features can be contained in another feature or object.

Transformers and valves are examples of features that can be content of a transformer bank or valve assembly.

Learn more about containment associations

Database utility network owner

When working with a utility network stored in an enterprise geodatabase, there are two owners for a utility network dataset: the database owner and the portal owner.

The database utility network owner is determined by the database user used in the data source when a utility network is created. You must access the utility network as the database utility network owner for configuration and publishing tasks.

Definition query

Definition queries allow you to define a subset of features to work with in a layer by filtering which features are retrieved from the dataset by the layer. This means that a definition query affects not only drawing, but also which features appear in the layer's attribute table and can be selected, labeled, identified, and processed by geoprocessing tools.

Learn more about how to filter features with definition queries.


A device is one of the five feature classes provided in the utility network. This class represents operational domain features with active properties that can impact the flow of resources in your network. For example, a valve controls the flow of water; a transformer changes electrical power from one voltage level to another; or a meter measures the gas, water, or electricity consumed by the customer. Examples include point features such as valves, meters, transformers, and switches.

To learn more, see Classes in a domain network.

Diagram template

When working with network diagrams, a diagram template contains the definitions of the diagram rules, layouts, and layers. In other words, it contains the configuration properties that define the content (rule and layout definitions) and presentation (diagram layer definition) of network diagrams that will be generated.

Learn more about diagram templates


Directionality defines how resources flow through terminals on a feature. All terminal configurations require directionality to be defined as directional or bidirectional. A directional terminal configuration indicates that the network commodity can travel only one way through a device or junction object. A bidirectional terminal configuration indicates that the network commodity can travel in either direction through the Device or JunctionObject; there are no distinct upstream or downstream terminals.

See Terminal management for more information.

Dirty areas

Dirty areas mark modified features in a map that are out of date in the network topology. Dirty areas are used as visual cues to show the areas that must be validated to maintain the network topology and are cleared when the network topology is validated and no errors are present. Dirty areas are created in two ways: when features are modified and when a feature in the utility network is found to be in violation of established rules and restrictions during enable, validate, and update subnetwork. These are also known as edit or modified dirty areas and error dirty areas, respectively.

The Status attribute field uses bitwise encoding to represent the operation that created the dirty area. This is used to symbolize the dirty area and control behavior during validate. Dirty areas created by inserts, updates, deletes, and modification to associated nonspatial objects are also known as edit dirty areas or modified dirty areas and contain edit bits (0,1,2). Dirty areas associated with errors, or error dirty areas, contain the error bits (3,4,5). During validate, only edit dirty areas, or error dirty areas containing an edit bit, are evaluated to be cleaned. Error dirty areas without an edit bit are ignored.

For example, if connectivity exists between a junction and a line without a corresponding junction-edge or edge-junction-edge connectivity rule, this would create an error dirty area with a Status of 8 (2^3) when the features are validated. This feature would be ignored by future validate operations. When the feature is modified to address the error scenario, the Status is updated to 9 (2^3 = 8) + (2^0 = 1) with the edit bit and would be evaluated with future validate operations.

Disjoint subnetwork

If subnetwork controllers that share the same subnetwork name cannot be traversed to one another, the subnetwork is considered disjoint. Support for this type of tier configuration is configured as part of the tier's subnetwork definition. This means that different parts of a subnetwork can be isolated from one another when the tier definition supports disjoint subnetworks. You can view this property for the tier using the Network Properties tab of the utility network properties.

  • For tiers in a domain network with a partitioned tier definition, the Set Subnetwork Definition geoprocessing tool includes a Support Disjoint Subnetworks option. By default, partitioned domain networks do not support disjoint subnetworks.
  • Tiers in a domain network with a hierarchical tier definition always support disjoint subnetworks.

Display filters

Display filters are queries that limit which features of a layer are displayed. Display filters can be determined by scale, or set manually. For example, you can configure display filters to control the visibility of containment association content features. These differ from definition queries in that display filters impact the display only.

Learn more about how to use display filters.

Domain network

Domain networks are the first architectural piece used to organize the utility network. These contain an industry-specific collection of feature classes and nonspatial objects to represent the assets of industries such as electric distribution or gas transmission, and allow you to model large, logically separate sections of your system. A utility network can have one or more domain networks.

For example, an electric, gas, or water utility may have two domain networks for modeling the delivery of its resource: transmission and distribution.

Edge elements

The utility network comprises a logical network of junction and edge elements. Edge elements compose the logical component of edge (or line) features in a utility network. A complex edge feature is associated with a set of edge elements in the network topology.

As an example, a water main represented by a single line feature may be composed of multiple edge elements separated by taps for service lines. In the example below, the addition of a junction with midspan connectivity creates a single line (or edge) feature comprised of multiple edge elements.

The presence of junctions with midspan connectivity along a line (or edge) feature creates a feature composed of multiple edge elements.

Edge-junction-edge rule

Edge-junction-edge connectivity rules are based on geometric coincidence or connectivity associations. These control the types of line features or edge objects that can be connected or associated using an intermediate junction feature or junction object.

Learn more about connectivity rules.

Edge object

Edge objects are nonspatial network features used to model and work with a large number of real-world features that share a common geographical space. Objects in this table represent linear operational or structural features that are often contained in other objects. Examples include individual ducts in a conduit system or patch cords in a fiber enclosure. This allows organizations to model their network in more detail without the need to create features with geometry for every asset.

Learn more about junction and edge objects.

Enterprise deployment

An enterprise deployment is the primary deployment pattern for a utility network that employs an enterprise geodatabase to publish, edit, and work with services from ArcGIS Enterprise. This services-based architecture allows for multiuser access and the sharing of a utility network across all platforms (desktop, mobile, and web).

Learn more about the alternate single-user deployment pattern with file and mobile geodatabases.

Error inspector

The Error Inspector pane provides you with information and tools to understand and address features and objects in the utility network that are in error.

Learn how to manage errors using the Error Inspector.

Feature barrier

Feature barriers are created by specifying the network features to serve as barriers when configuring a trace. When working with spatial features, a coincident point is created on the map to denote the location of the barrier for the trace. Records from nonspatial edge and junction object tables can be selected and added to the Barriers tab on the Trace pane to serve as barriers. While any network feature can be used as a feature barrier, these are optional during tracing events.

A valve can be selected interactively in the map to serve as a feature barrier for a trace. When this feature is selected using the Add features command from the Barriers tab, a coincident point is created on the map to denote the location of the barrier for the trace.

Learn more about feature barriers.

Feature restrictions

Built-in restrictions imposed at the class level for features and objects that participate in the network to promote data accuracy and correctness. Their purpose is to restrict the valid relationships between the feature and object classes in the network and control the types of rules that can be added to a utility network. Features can be connected or associated as long as feature restrictions are respected and network rules exist to allow such relationships.

Learn more about feature restrictions.

Filter barrier

A filter barrier is used to determine which features are barriers in a subnetwork. Filter barriers are like feature or condition barriers but are evaluated and applied on a second pass of the trace to allow the subnetwork controller to be first identified.

For example, you could create a filter barrier using Category = Isolating. In this example, Isolating is a user-defined network category that is assigned to specific asset groups and asset types that are considered isolating. When the trace is run, after the subnetwork controller is identified, any feature meeting the criteria would act as a barrier and stop the trace.

Learn more about filter barriers.

Filter function barrier

A filter function barrier uses a condition to determine when a trace should stop. When a trace meets this condition, it stops. Filter function barriers behave like function barriers but are evaluated and applied on a second pass like a filter barrier to allow the subnetwork controller to be first identified.

Learn more about filter function barriers.

Function barrier

A function barrier defines the boundary of subnetworks based on whether a function condition has been satisfied. Function barriers can be used for such things as distinguishing a subnetwork in a pipe network based on a threshold pressure value (for example, 50).

Learn more about function barriers.

Geometric coincidence

When two or more features exist in the same x-, y-, and z-location, they are geometrically coincident. This is also known as implicit connectivity.

As an example, sometimes features can occupy the same x- and y-locations, such as devices stacked on a pole. Assigning z-values features at the same x- and y-locations will help ensure features are not geometrically coincident.

Hierarchical tier definition

In domain networks with a hierarchical tier definition, the same feature can be modeled in multiple types of subnetworks. For example, pressure zones and isolation zones can be defined in two tiers within a tier group. A gas or water feature can be part of both the pressure and isolation tiers.

Inconsistent subnetwork

When a subnetwork has multiple subnetwork controllers and the Subnetwork Name attribute is not consistent, the subnetwork is considered inconsistent. For example, in a subnetwork with five subnetwork controllers, four of the subnetwork controllers have the correct subnetwork name, while the fifth has a different name.

If inconsistent subnetworks are discovered during the update process, an error is returned in the Update Subnetwork tool and errors are generated for the subnetwork controllers. Inconsistent subnetworks are also reported when performing a subnetwork trace.

Learn more about updating subnetworks.

Indeterminate flow

Indeterminate flow is defined as areas in a subnetwork where flow direction is ambiguous or cannot be determined for network features during an upstream, downstream, or isolation trace. By default, features and objects with indeterminate flow are included in the trace results. The Loops trace can be used to discover network loops with indeterminate flow.


Junction features represent operational domain features or structures that have connectivity properties, but do not have an effect on the resource.  Examples may include taps, pipe tees, or other connection points.

Learn more about classes in a domain network.

Junction-edge connectivity rule

A junction-edge connectivity rule is a type of connectivity rule that governs which junctions or junction objects you can connect to endpoints or vertices of lines and edge objects.

Learn more about connectivity rules.

Junction-junction connectivity rule

A junction-junction connectivity rule is a type of connectivity rule that governs the junction and junction object classes that can be connected to other junctions or junction objects. Applying this rule allows a connectivity association to be defined between two disjointed classes.

Junction object

Junction objects are nonspatial network features used to model and work with a large number of real-world features that share a common geographical space. Objects in this table represent individual operational or structure features that are often contained in other objects. Examples include knockouts on a duct wall or a rack for mounting equipment at an equipment site. This allows organizations to model their network in more detail without the need to create features with geometry for every asset.

Learn more about junction and edge objects.


Line features in a domain network represent linear operational features such as wires and pipes. These are the lines that conduct or deliver a utility resource—such as electricity, gas, water, or communications—between devices and junctions. In a structure network, lines can represent linear features such as trenches and duct banks. Structure lines can also contain other network features carrying a resource.


Associations with spatial features are used to determine the location of, and visually represent, nonspatial objects on a map. These spatial features provide a mechanism to create dirty areas and validate edits made to nonspatial objects so they can be updated in the network topology. Junction and edge objects are considered locatable when they are contained by or structurally attached to a feature within their containment or attachment hierarchy. When they do not have a connectivity association, do not serve as content, or are not structurally attached to a feature in their association hierarchy, they are considered unlocatable objects.

Learn more about locatability

Logical connectivity

Logical connectivity describes the connectivity (or relationship) between network features in a network topology and the weights necessary for traversal. Logical connectivity does not involve the geometry or spatial location of the network elements involved.

Terminals are an example of logical connections on a device or junction object. These do not exist as features in the network but help to define connectivity within the logical network.


Loops are areas of the network where the flow direction is ambiguous, also known as indeterminate flow. Within a loop, resources can flow in either direction. Loops are expected with mesh networks but usually indicate error conditions in radial networks. The Loops trace type can be used to discover loops.

Learn how to discover network loops

Map view

The map view shows a cartographic display of a utility network. When edits are performed, dirty areas appear on the map showing where the network topology is not current.

Midspan connectivity

When connecting network features to a line or edge object, you can make connections at either the endpoints or the midspan vertices. Using the midspan vertices allows you to create network features without breaking network lines where the physical line is continuous.

For example, a typical location for midspan connectivity is where a service drop connects to an electric distribution line. Taps also occur midspan of line features and edge objects.

Named trace configuration

A named trace configuration is a trace configuration that has been created for re-use in ArcGIS Pro and for sharing across an organization through web maps to be consumed by web and field applications. These allow you to store complex traces in the utility network and simplify the user experience associated with tracing.

Learn more about named trace configurations

Network attribute

Network attributes are associated with attributes on feature classes and object tables in your network. They are derived from the network feature's attributes and cached inside the network topology to aid in performance while attributes are evaluated during a trace or while performing subnetwork management tasks. The values stored as attributes for features and objects are reflected or updated in the associated network attribute each time you validate the network topology.

As an example, you can model electric phases as a network attribute so that a trace can be run on only one of three electric phases. You can also define pipe diameters as a network attribute to constrain gas and water traces.

Learn more about network attributes

Network categories

A network category is a tag used to represent a characteristic of an asset in your network. They are created and assigned to network features for specific asset group and asset type combinations.

As an example, you can use a network category of Protective to limit traces of electric network features to devices or equipment that is used to protect the system, such as fuses or reclosers.

See Network categories for more information.

Network diagram

A network diagram provides a symbolic representation of network features in a utility network with an applied visualization technique. This simplified schematic view of a network is useful for various types of engineering analysis. These are often also referred to as schematic representations or schematic diagrams and apply user-specified algorithms to collapse nonessential features and highlight crucial features for an engineer's view of the network. Network diagrams can also show the results of a tracing analysis.

A one-line diagram for electric utilities is an example of a network diagram.

Learn more about network diagrams

Network features

The term network features is used to refer generally to assets represented in the utility network data model. This includes both feature classes and nonspatial objects in the domain and structure network.

Network topology

Topology is the arrangement of how point, line, and polygon features share geometry and connectivity. The network topology (or network index) enables tracing analysis and rapid retrieval of network features based on logical connectivity. When edits occur on a utility network, affected parts of the network topology are displayed as dirty areas to indicate that the network topology does not match the edited features. The network topology stores all types of associations—connectivity, containment, and structural attachment—in the utility network.

The enable operation creates the network topology, a validate network topology operation updates the features and associations with dirty areas for a specified extent of your network, and the rebuild network topology operation recreates the network topology for all features in a given area, regardless of whether or not they have dirty areas.

To learn more, see Network topology.

Nonspatial objects

Junction and edge objects are nonspatial network objects used to model and work with a large number of real-world features that share a common geographical space, for example, the strands inside of a fiber cable or conductors in an underground duct. This allows organizations to model their networks in more detail without the need to create features with geometry for every asset.

To learn more, see Junction and edge objects.

Partitioned tier definition

A partitioned tier definition can be applied to a domain network for modeling of networks that are sequential in nature, such as electrical and telecommunications utilities. Features in domain networks with a partitioned tier definition are independent and can only exist in one tier. The relationship between tiers in partitioned domain networks is ordered and linear. For example, a transmission tier delivers the resource over a long distance, and a distribution tier serves the resource to the customer.

Learn more about partitioned tiers

Portal utility network owner

When working with a utility network stored in an enterprise geodatabase, there are two owners for a utility network dataset: the database owner and the portal owner.

The active portal user when the utility network is created serves as the portal utility network owner. The portal utility network owner must meet certain requirements and prerequisites. Having the portal utility network owner signed in is a prerequisite for certain network configuration tasks as well as for publishing utility network layers. Tools that require an active portal connection with the portal utility network owner list this requirement in the usage notes.

When accessed from a database connection established as the database utility network owner, the portal utility network owner is listed in the General section of the Network Properties dialog box.

Learn more about updating the portal utility network owner

Preset template

A preset template allows an editor to quickly place a complex collection of features. Preset templates create all types of needed associations as well as place network features. Preset templates are part of the core ArcGIS Pro editing framework and work with the association framework in the utility network.

As an example, a preset template can be configured to place a switchgear container with all its internal switches, fuses, and busbars, and connect these properly.


Propagators derive values from network attributes for features downstream of subnetwork controllers as the features are traversed during a trace. A network attribute for the propagated value is persisted inside the network topology when the topology is enabled or validated, and it is associated with a value stored in an attribute on a network feature.

These are defined at the tier level as part of the subnetwork trace configuration on network attributes and displayed as part of the trace configurationfor tiers on the Network Properties tab.

Learn more about propagators and attribute propagation

Service territory

The service territory is an m- and z-enabled polygon feature class containing one or more features that spans the operational area of a utility. It can be roughly the area of a city, state, or province. This is used as input when creating a utility network. The extent of the features in the service territory feature class are used to define the network extent. The network extent is a single polygon feature that is calculated by aggregating the spatial extents of all input features; it is created slightly larger than the aggregated extent from the input service territory features. You can view the polygon that encompasses the network extent by displaying the dirty area for a utility network when the network topology is disabled.

The network extent represents the area in which the network topology is maintained. This also restricts the editable area for all of the structure network and domain network features collectively. To restrict the creation of network features at a finer level, create a constraint attribute rule using Arcade geometry functions such as Intersects as part of the script expression.

Single-user deployment

A single-user deployment is an alternate deployment pattern for a utility network stored in a file or mobile geodatabase that provides access to the full analytic capability of the utility network. While concurrent access is enabled for read-only operations, locking processes on a mobile geodatabase and at the feature dataset level of a file geodatabase prevent editing by more than one user.

Learn more about using an enterprise deployment to configure a utility network on an enterprise geodatabase.


Structures are features or objects that support the domain features and objects that control the flow of resources in a utility network.  Utilities commonly carry more than one type of resource on a common set of structures. For example, a pole may support electric lines, telecommunication wires, and cable lines. Similarly, a duct bank may carry many types of utility resources.

Learn more about structures.

Structural attachment association

A structural attachment association allows the modeling of supporting structures and attachments in a network. Often, a utility needs to report what structural features, such as poles, are associated with a subnetwork, or it may need to locate a manhole where a critical piece of equipment can be reached. Structures are not part of the network for purposes of tracing the resource, but there is a need to quickly identify and list structures that have network features attached to them. Structural attachments logically associate structure features with other features in a utility network. These associations allow you to model the relationship between structures that support equipment and associated assets that are attached. For example, a pole can serve as the structure, with a transformer as the attachment.

  • A structure can have many attachments (for example, a pole with a transformer, ground, riser, and arrester attached to it).
  • Attachment features, such as platforms, can also be associated with multiple poles (structures).

Learn more about structural attachments

Structural attachment association rule

Structural attachment association rules constrain which types of features or objects can be attached to another feature or object (structure) through a structural attachment association.

Learn more about structural attachment association rules.

Structure boundary

A structure boundary represents physical or operational boundaries for collections of operational domain device, line, or junction features. These are polygon container features that contain other network features. For example, a structure boundary can represent the outline of a substation boundary, vaults, or maintenance facilities.

To learn more, see Classes in a structure network .

Structure network

Every utility network has a structure network that represents the classes that support the devices and lines that convey a resource in a domain network. All domain networks in a utility network share a common structure network.

For example, an electric network has poles, pads, cabinets, and other structural features that are utility assets but do not directly carry the delivered resource.

Learn more about a structure network


A subnetwork is used to model the connectivity and flow of real-world systems, like circuits and pressure zones. They represent a well-defined area of connectivity (a topological subset) within a tier, in which all the connected features and objects are defined by their origination or termination into the same subnetwork controller or controllers and are used to organize, manage, and analyze data. To create a subnetwork, a subnetwork controller is set, the network topology is validated, and the subnetwork is updated.

Subnetworks are referred to as circuits in electric systems and pressure zones in gas and water systems.

To learn more, see Subnetworks.

SubnetLine feature class

The SubnetLine feature class stores a set of linear features, each representing a subnetwork. The purpose of this feature class is for visualization during editing and generating subnetwork maps. Each linear feature is composed of an aggregation of line features in a subnetwork with valid asset types.

Learn more about the SubnetLine feature class.

Subnetwork-based trace

There are many core trace types provided with the Trace geoprocessing tool. Subnetwork-based traces rely on information from the subnetwork trace configuration. This is part of the subnetwork definition for a tier and is used to limit the scope of the trace results when specifying the Domain Network and Tier parameters in the Trace tool.

Subnetwork-based traces that use the subnetwork definition in the trace configuration include the following:

Learn more about utility network trace types

Subnetwork controller

A subnetwork controller is a type of network feature from which a resource is delivered or collected. They are used to define the origin or termination of a subnetwork. A subnetwork controller type is defined for each domain network, and when the tier is configured, it is defined to use one or more of the controllers in the domain network. You can configure certain asset group and asset types to allow them to be set as subnetwork controllers; this is done by assigning a network category. Subnetwork controllers are set for device features and junction objects using a specific terminal and are used as start or end points for tracing analysis.

For example, in an electric system, a subnetwork controller for electricity could be a power-generating station or substation. For a gravity-fed water distribution system, a subnetwork controller could be a reservoir.

Learn more about subnetwork controllers

Subtype group layer

Subtype group layers are composite feature layers that contain multiple sublayers called subtype layers. Each subtype layer corresponds to one subtype in the source class or feature service. This way, each sublayer can be symbolized independently.

Learn more about subtype group layers.

System junction

A system junction is a hidden network feature that is placed at the endpoint of a network edge element when there is no user-defined junction. System junctions are generated during the initial enabling of the network topology or through validating the network topology. These features are hidden in the map view, but you can display them in a network diagram view.

There are a few situations in which system junctions are created:

  • A single edge element with no user-defined junctions at the endpoints
  • Two edge elements that share an endpoint and do not have a user-defined junction connecting them
    • If the edge features have the same Asset group and Asset Type attributes, a system junction is created between the edge features and connectivity is established.
    • If the edge features have different Asset group and Asset Type attributes, a system junction is created at the end of each edge feature, and connectivity is not established. Errors are created.
Learn more about feature restrictions


Subnetwork taps (or taps) are point features or junction objects placed midspan along a line or edge object. They are used during a trace and update a subnetwork when the subnetwork has been configured to use propagation. A tap allows these operations to dynamically recalculate alternative values for network features in a tapped portion of a network.

Learn more about subnetwork taps.


Terminals represents logical ports, entries, or exit locations on a device or junction object in a utility network. While terminals are not required, there are cases in which terminals are necessary. Classes that serve as a subnetwork controller require terminals when there are three or more connections to the network feature. The use of terminals allows a more realistic modeling of some assets and enables more accurate data exchange to external analytic systems. Each device or junction object can contain many terminals, all of which can be interconnected. Terminal configurations model these interconnections by specifying the flow path through terminals.

As an example, a transformer has high- and low-side terminals. A circuit breaker has source-side and load-side terminals.

See Terminal management and Terminals for more information.

Terminal configuration

A terminal configuration defines how a resource can flow within a network feature that has defined terminals. When you create a terminal configuration, you define whether the resource can flow in both directions or only one direction, the name of terminals, whether a terminal is on the upstream or downstream side of the network feature, which paths between terminals are valid, and the default path through terminals. Once created, a terminal configuration is assigned to an asset type of an asset group of a device or junction object.

As an example, a delta-wye transformer has a terminal configuration that specifies the valid pathways between the high-side and low-side terminals.

Terminal path

A terminal path is any valid path through which a resource can flow within a terminal configuration. Valid paths denote which paths a network commodity can take when it enters a feature. When a network feature is created with an asset type that has a terminal configuration with valid paths assigned, the feature or object is automatically assigned a default path specified for the terminal configuration. The assigned path can be modified to any one of the valid paths identified for the terminal configuration.

See Terminal management to learn more about terminal paths.


Tiers are used to segregate and manage the final architectural piece of a network: subnetworks. A tier defines a collection of individual subnetworks that all share the same properties and adhere to the same restrictions. Properties are defined when you add a domain network and create tiers for the utility network. These properties determine the layout of tiers and their position relative to the rest of the tiers in a domain network.

As an example, you could model an electric distribution domain network with two tiers, where the medium-voltage tier starts at the load-side terminal of the outbound circuit breaker of the substation. The circuit breaker converts transmission-level voltages to medium-level voltages and traverses all the lines and devices until it reaches the high-side terminal of distribution transformers, which convert electric power to low voltages.

For more information, see Network hierarchies with tiers and Tiers.

Tier group

Tier groups allow you to organize your system in domain networks that have a hierarchical tier definition. Tier groups are required to add tiers to a hierarchical domain network and represent systems such as water, gas, and sewage. Tier groups are used to model the different sectors of those types of networks—for example, gathering, transmission, distribution, and cathodic protection.

Learn more about tier groups.

Trace analysis

Common types of analysis done with a network involve traces. A utility may want to know every network feature that is connected to a source, find loops in a network, or find all network features upstream or downstream from a selected point. Some types of traces are constrained by specific devices, such as protective devices, and the definitions of those device types are specified by device categories in a domain network.

Examples of trace analysis are upstream traces, downstream traces, and connected traces.

Trace configuration

The Trace tool includes a comprehensive set of advance configuration properties that are used to refine the trace and control trace settings for traversability, functions, filters, outputs, and propagators. These properties are referred to as the trace configuration. These are different from named trace configurations, which are created and stored for re-use and sharing across an organization.


Two related concepts in the utility network are connectivity and traversability. Whereas connectivity describes the potential range of the resource flow (electricity, water, gas, or other), traversability describes the actual range of resource flow according to the current state of devices or junction objects that can impede flow, such as valves or switches. The definition of subnetworks that are delimited by the present status of interrupting devices (switches and valves) illustrates the concept of traversability.

To illustrate this concept, a water system can have many connected pipes, but closed valves disconnect zones of water delivery from one another.

Learn more about connectivity and traversability

Unlocatable objects

Nonspatial junction and edge objects are represented visually through associations with another feature. Associations are also used to determine the location of an object. If this association is deleted, this can create a scenario in which the junction or edge object is unlocatable. Junction and edge objects are referred to as unlocatable when they do not have a connectivity association, do not serve as content, or are not structurally attached to a feature in their association hierarchy.

Learn more about locatability

Utility network

A utility network is a geodatabase controller dataset that provides advanced capabilities to visualize, edit, and analyze network data in ArcGIS. It is the main component users work with when managing utility and telecom networks in ArcGIS, providing a comprehensive framework of functionality for the modeling of utility systems such as electric, gas, water, storm water, wastewater, and telecommunications.

A utility network is a collection of domain networks (gas, water, electric, or other) plus a structure network. An organization specifies the set of domain networks that it manages when it configures a utility network. You can define associations across domain networks and enable tracing analysis across those domains. For example, you can perform electric tracing analysis from transmission to distribution levels with a utility network with electric transmission and electric distribution domain networks.

Learn more about a utility network

Utility network version

The version of the utility network is incremented when it is upgraded to take advantage of new functionality introduced through schema changes in the information model. When working with an enterprise deployment, the version of ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Enterprise determines the version of the utility network dataset that is created or upgraded.

Learn more about the utility network version compatibility

Validation attribute rule

Validation rules specify permissible attribute configurations and general relationships on a feature. They are used to check network features in a dataset based on a specific requirement or constraint.

Learn more about validation attribute rules.

Validate consistency

Validate consistency is an option in the Trace tool that ensures the trace results are consistent with the network topology. When this is set to true, a trace operation will fail and return an error that includes the class name and global ID of any features or objects in the trace path that are found to be dirty.

Learn more about how to ensure network consistency.

In this topic
  1. Analytics
  2. Assembly
  3. Asset group
  4. Asset package
  5. Asset type
  6. Associations
  7. Attribute rules
  8. Attribute substitution
  9. Calculation attribute rule
  10. Complex edge
  11. Condition barrier
  12. Conflicts
  13. Connectivity
  14. Connectivity associations
  15. Connectivity rules
  16. Container
  17. Containment edit mode
  18. Containment associations
  19. Containment association rule
  20. Content
  21. Database utility network owner
  22. Definition query
  23. Device
  24. Diagram template
  25. Directionality
  26. Dirty areas
  27. Disjoint subnetwork
  28. Display filters
  29. Domain network
  30. Edge elements
  31. Edge-junction-edge rule
  32. Edge object
  33. Enterprise deployment
  34. Error inspector
  35. Feature barrier
  36. Feature restrictions
  37. Filter barrier
  38. Filter function barrier
  39. Function barrier
  40. Geometric coincidence
  41. Hierarchical tier definition
  42. Inconsistent subnetwork
  43. Indeterminate flow
  44. Junction
  45. Junction-edge connectivity rule
  46. Junction-junction connectivity rule
  47. Junction object
  48. Line
  49. Locatability
  50. Logical connectivity
  51. Loops
  52. Map view
  53. Midspan connectivity
  54. Named trace configuration
  55. Network attribute
  56. Network categories
  57. Network diagram
  58. Network features
  59. Network topology
  60. Nonspatial objects
  61. Partitioned tier definition
  62. Portal utility network owner
  63. Preset template
  64. Propagators
  65. Service territory
  66. Single-user deployment
  67. Structure
  68. Structural attachment association
  69. Structural attachment association rule
  70. Structure boundary
  71. Structure network
  72. Subnetwork
  73. SubnetLine feature class
  74. Subnetwork-based trace
  75. Subnetwork controller
  76. Subtype group layer
  77. System junction
  78. Taps
  79. Terminal
  80. Terminal configuration
  81. Terminal path
  82. Tier
  83. Tier group
  84. Trace analysis
  85. Trace configuration
  86. Traversability
  87. Unlocatable objects
  88. Utility network
  89. Utility network version
  90. Validation attribute rule
  91. Validate consistency