Blog.

11.18.2020

Why GIS?

We’ve put together this blog post in celebration of GIS Day 2020! If you or the company you work for are already using GIS then you already know why it’s “the way to go” at this time in technology history. If you’re new to this, or on the fence about the benefits of utilizing GIS in your business, this article is for you! Before we begin, here is a definition of GIS from the Esri website:

A geographic information system (GIS) is a framework for gathering, managing, and analyzing data. Rooted in the science of geography, GIS integrates many types of data. It analyzes spatial location and organizes layers of information into visualizations using maps and 3D scenes. ​With this unique capability, GIS reveals deeper insights into data, such as patterns, relationships, and situations—helping users make smarter decisions.

Before GIS

Before GIS was “a thing”, all of the planning, implementation, and management of telecommunication and broadband networks was done manually. When we say manually, we mean by hand. People would have to go out to proposed build sites and hand draw what they saw and then the handwritten notes could be taken back to the office and entered into a system like AutoCAD so that “maps” could be generated based on the data that was entered into the system.

When this was the only method, it “was what it was”. Now that it’s not the only method, it’s an option that’s incredibly time consuming, relies on humans “getting it exactly right” on every level within the process, and the end product is simply a digitized version of what was originally created with pencil and paper on that specific date and time in history.

After GIS

Technology has now made it so that the info that people manually went out and observed can be ascertained online. That data can be fused with geospatial data (think Google Maps) and the data can be updated – because this info is constantly changing – online and in real time. In essence, you create a “digital twin” – think records that actually mirror what is out in the field at all times.

Additionally, there are other invaluable variables that you can easily add in to your data by layering other data in. Factors like weather patterns and census data allow for better, more accurate data to help projects be more efficient once it’s go-time.

You may be thinking: You are grossly oversimplifying this, company whose business IS GIS! because it really can sound too good to be true. But, we’re not. Sure, you have to invest in GIS tools and employees who know how or can learn how to operate those tools. But is that investment all that more significant when you can take significant amounts of time, travel, and inaccuracies out of the equation?

GIS has been a game changer in our industry. It has allowed companies to massively ramp up efficiencies – do more, faster, more safely, and more accurately. It has allowed for services to get into the hands of people who need and want it faster than ever before. While we have a long way to go in closing the digital divide, leveraging technology is a clear path for providers to do their part to make that happen as efficiently and as cost effectively as possible.

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11.3.2020

PRESS RELEASE: Millennium Geospatial Recognized As 2020 Emerging Partner By Esri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11/3/2020

Kevin Maes
Millennium Geospatial
608.949.9005
kevin.maes@millenniumgeospatial.com

Millennium Geospatial Recognized As 2020 Emerging Partner By Esri

GIS consulting firm receives award from Esri co-founder Jack Dangermond during IMGIS Conference

Madison, Wisconsin: On October 28, 2020, Jack Dangermond, co-founder of Esri named Millennium Geospatial the winner of Emerging Partner at Esri IMGIS Conference 2020. The award recognizes Millennium Geospatial for its ongoing partnership and contributions to the Esri GIS community.

“We are extremely honored to receive this year’s Emerging Partner award from Mr. Dangermond and the entire Esri team. The Esri platform is the foundation for much of the work that we do with and for our mutual customers and we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of leveraging cutting edge technology in powerful ways that are reshaping Internet access around the world,” said Kevin Maes, VP of Engineering at Millennium Geospatial.

“It’s an honor to receive the Emerging Partner Award from Esri in the first year of our partnership. Esri and our software engineers have worked closely to develop custom solutions to help legacy engineering firms and service providers collect and visualize data in real-time to accelerate network builds, marketing efforts, and communication with field crews in a way that is new to our industry. We plan to continue to leverage our relationship with Esri and be part of the change in Telecom engineering that helps to elevate the entire industry with our peers.”, said James Kyle, Founder & CEO of Millennium.

“This award is in recognition of being a valuable partner and supporting our GIS user community, we appreciate all the work that you do in making our customers successful,” said Mr. Dangermond.

“Job well done by you and the Millennium Geospatial team. Your partnership with Esri is extremely valuable. Thank you so much for all your hard work and congratulations!” said Susan Powell, Partner Executive, Utilities & Telecom at Esri.

The Esri IMGIS Conference 2020 was held virtually from October 27-30, 2020. Due to the virtual nature of this year’s conference, the partner awards were presented during the plenary session on day two of the conference and awards were mailed directly to recipient’s locations.

About Millennium Geospatial: Established in 2019, Millennium Geospatial was developed to work in partnership with Broadband Service Providers, Telecommunication Construction Companies and Engineering Consultants to address their Data, Engineering, & Project Management needs with custom created field applications, dashboards, and data integration. With project experience in 40 of the 50 states as well as Canada, the Millennium Geospatial team has a deep understanding of the business challenges that their clients experience. Millennium Geospatial has positioned itself to work with their clients to provide GIS solutions that are unique to the needs of the client’s project and overall company goals.

For media, training, or other service inquiries, Contact Us

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10.28.2020

Partner Spotlight: An Interview With Stacia Canaday From Esri

Leveraging technology and maintaining strong and healthy partnerships are two important pillars at Millennium Geospatial. They serve a practical purpose, but it also speaks to what’s important to our team and why we started this company in the first place. Our partnership with Esri checks both of these boxes, and we recently had a chance to interview Stacia Canaday from the Esri team about how their platform plays such an important role in the work we do for and with our clients. This interview originally appeared in our email newsletter. If you’re not currently receiving our quarterly newsletter, click here to join the list!

Kevin Maes: You’ve been in this business for nearly 20 years. What’s different about the industry now than, say, 10 years ago?

Stacia Canaday: In 2010, telecoms generally perceived GIS as a heavy-duty desktop technology that you needed a college degree to use. GIS was relegated to a windowless basement office where they maybe printed out paper maps once a year. If they were lucky, they could convince field techs to relinquish their old paper maps from underneath the seat of their truck with a up-to-date set and that was how maps were shared across the organization. 

Now, the industry is moving towards the idea of GIS as an ecosystem of targeted applications designed to help each employee make the right decision at the right time. Everyone within the organization uses a central map portal to author information about the business, share access securely to that spatial information, analyze or ask questions with the information, and ultimately act or make decisions based on what the information tells them. I think technology has finally caught up to the way telecoms wanted to work and collaborate all along. The advent of web services and growing adoption of cloud technologies makes a complete GIS more accessible to everyone in the telecom industry, from small outfits to the largest operators.

KM: It’s evident that there is a massive emphasis on training and education at Esri which we’ve really appreciated and benefited from here at Millennium Geospatial. Can you share examples of how and why it’s important to educate and empower users of Esri’s tools?

SC: I’m so glad you asked this question – I began my career at Esri in the Educational Services department, teaching GIS classes. So I definitely have thoughts on this topic! From my own personal experience both as an instructor and directly working with telecommunications companies, It’s clear proper training and ongoing staff development are critical to the success of projects and retention of employees. I can’t tell you how many times someone expressed something along the lines of, “I struggled for two weeks to figure out a workflow/task but within 20 minutes the instructor explained it to me.” 

Here at Esri, we invest around 30% of our annual revenue back into product research & development, which is unusually large for a technology company. That means our products are constantly evolving and changing, based on what we hear from our customers. That near constant evolution and growth also means it’s even more important to stay up to date on best practices and new technology. Just like you wouldn’t let someone without training operate a trencher or splice fiber optic cable, you shouldn’t let people with no training manage one of your most precious assets: maps and spatial data.

A common barrier to investing in staff development is the feeling that, “What if I invest in staff training and then employees leave the organization?” To which I respond, “If the alternative is you don’t invest in their training and then they stay, then, yes, I think that’s a much smaller risk.” There’s been a handful of times a telecom company experiences downtime on a mission critical GIS application simply because users didn’t understand how to best set it up or manage it. A small annual investment in ongoing training pales in comparison to the costs incurred when your locate screening app or serviceability app is unavailable.

KM: Do you think 5G will have an impact on a company’s decision-making around getting fiber deeper into their networks?

SC: The amazing promise of 5G doesn’t mean fiber is dead, it’s quite the opposite. It means more fiber will be added to the transport network; fiber densification will occur for years to come and traditional carriers will increase the outsourcing of design and construction of these networks to keep up with their 5G wireless network buildout demand. Automated fiber route planning and design, along with project job tracking will be key to optimizing fiber routes and making sure designs are not happening on top of each other. Verizon’s One Fiber initiative is great example of a carrier rallying around their broadband transport network and stating that it doesn’t matter if they are building fiber for enterprise B2B services or small cells, they’ll be strategically designing and building fiber that supports all their broadband services. This approach eliminates stove-piped design and buildout from different teams across Verizon, and across their contractors. 

So, with all the fiber planning, engineering, and construction that will occur to support 5G, what’s the one aspect that ties each stage of the design process together and can bring design firms, contractors, and carriers together? Location. Location is creating a common reference system. Maps are used today to plan fiber routes, redline in the field, perform engineering, submit permits, and provide construction prints. I am yet to meet a telecom organization who hasn’t tried to get maps to someone inside or outside the company. Although all these workflows are inherently geographic, output and work product often devolve to paper maps or spreadsheets. Sharing these flat files around creates confusion and chaos creating many uncertainties. Who created this design? When was it last updated? Do I have the authoritative version? Processes are delayed and permits are often lost due to the sheer amount of time it takes to decipher uncontrolled documentation and workflows.

Since location is the unifying factor in the design process, and everyday more designs are being created to support fiber densification, design firms and carriers are looking to a more complete enterprise approach to mapping. If each party involved in planning, design, permitting, construction, and operations used the same set of maps, a near real-time operational awareness can be achieved. Everyone with a stake in the project would know exactly the current status, challenges, and future plans, all within a context everyone understands: a map.

KM: What do you think the industry will look like in 5 years?

SC: Currently a handful of really forward-thinking telecommunications companies are incorporating spatial analysis and location intelligence into their enterprise big data and business intelligence workflows. I suspect that trend will become the norm over the next five years as more and more telecoms become woke (as the kids say) to the significant insight geography and location brings to their business. Since practically every aspect of a telecommunications company involves location, it’s surprisingly hard to think of a project or KPI that couldn’t be enhanced with the addition of spatial visualization or analysis. 

The work Millennium Geospatial is doing around construction dashboards is relevant to this topic. Instead of relying on gut feelings or written construction updates, your team is visualizing actual construction progress on a map and using near real-time data to communicate what’s really going on. This just one example of a telecom workflow that is significantly enhanced because of data-driven insights. Another telecom company we work with is using space-time cubes to make predictions on customer behavior on their network or likelihood of asset failure. 

I sense the industry is on the precipice of leveraging powerful scientific analysis tools within their own business data in order to make a big difference on the bottom line.

Stacia joined Esri over 18 years ago and currently serves as a Sales Manager responsible for business development within the telecommunications & cable industries in the US. Stacia leads a team of account managers & executives who partner with their customers to truly understand their businesses and apply the Science of Where to address challenges and leverage opportunities.

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10.1.2020

Using Dashboards Effectively In Telephony

While telephony has been around for a long time, technology has become the game changer that has moved the industry forward. For the provider, this is true at the nuts and bolts materials level of fiber optics and it’s also true at the planning, implementation, and management level of the industry. The team at our sister company Millennium assists customers with the materials to make fiber projects tick and our team at Millennium Geospatial works with companies to plan, implement, and manage fiber projects.

We find that most companies that we work with need/should have a Dashboard to help them manage projects as well as overall efficiencies within their company. Once organizations understand what a Dashboard is and what it can do, they usually agree and invest in a Dashboard for their projects.

What is a Dashboard?

By now, everyone on the planet has likely interacted with a Dashboard. The COVID19 Dashboard built and maintained by Johns Hopkins University is one of the most widely known and used Dashboard in existence at this time. We all are able to see rates of infection at any given time and in any given place using that map. The data is easy to see and use and it updates in real-time using geospatial data.

Who uses a Dashboard?

Anyone who needs/wants to measure something that involves geographic locations can benefit from having and using a Dashboard to track data. We find that there are 3 types of Dashboards that are the most useful to companies:

Operational

An operational Dashboard will tell you what’s happening in real time. The Johns Hopkins Dashboard is an example of this. We use Dashboard technology on this very website to update the map documenting our past projects so that visitors can interact with the data and assess our experience in a very hands on way before they even have to reach out and connect with us. Operational Dashboards are utilized in areas of the business where day-to-day monitoring is needed.

Strategic

A strategic Dashboard contains less nitty gritty detail and is ideal for members of an organization that want to review high level data. If decision makers in an organization need/want to project where to focus resources in the future, a strategic Dashboard can help present the data in a way that makes high level decision making more effective.

Analytical

An analytical Dashboard creates an environment that allows users to dig deeper into data. While productivity is something that can be viewed as a high level, using an analytical Dashboard allows a user to dig into crew productivity, supervisor productivity, daily production, yearly production and more.

Can’t decide which kind of Dashboard to go with? No worries – data can be tabbed within the Dashboard framework so that every department can see what the need to see in the way they need/want to see it.

How long does a Dashboard last?

Geospatial data is fluid and a Dashboard can continue to be effective for as long as data is being fed into it. Dashboards are the business tool gift that truly keeps on giving!

Interested in seeing this information as a story map? Click here and check it out!

Every Dashboard is built custom to the needs of the team(s) that will be using it. If you’re interested in discovering how a Dashboard can help your team, please be in touch!

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9.22.2020

Harnessing The Power of Story Maps in Esri

Before COVID19, had you ever seen data presented in a Dashboard format? Probably, though you may not have noticed. Dashboards have really pushed into the mainstream since COVID19 as many organizations document, in this case positive test results, using a Dashboard. The COVID19 dashboard that is the most well known is the one maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

Many of the dashboards we see these days are “Powered By Esri”. We are a proud partner of Esri, and in addition to creating and maintaining dashboards, our team uses many more of the tools within Esri to support our clients in a variety of ways. One tool that we use near the end of our projects is the story map tool. Kaitlyn Bisping from our Intern team took some time recently to explain this tool and why we love it so much at Millennium Geospatial!

Please describe the story mapping tool – what goes into making it “work”?

KB: Esri has great tools for making story maps. They have had “Classic Storymaps” which was the original tool to create story maps. This version is still available, however, Esri has recently developed a new tool which is located at storymaps.arcgis.com where we can create story maps directly within the tool (before you would need to make a map separately in ArcGIS Online). The Esri story map builder makes it easy to find and identify locations, and they provide a variety of ways to portray that information.

We receive a ton of positive feedback on our story maps – which is awesome! What do you find are some of the common themes when we receive feedback?

People seem to really enjoy visual storytelling and that’s exactly what we’re doing with one of our story maps. When prospective clients wonder how we may be able to help them with their immediate needs or even future goals, it’s helpful for them to see real case studies in this format. It’s not that we haven’t been able to put together useful presentations up until now, but the story map presents such an elegant way to consume the information. No more slide shows with a video embedded that once you click it takes you out to YouTube to consume! I think the enjoyable part about story maps is certainly the visual aspect but also the fact that all the information you need is integrated into a single location.

Also, unless you are an exceptional writer, it is difficult to create a captivating story with only words. Pictures, charts, descriptive text, video and of course maps, all go into making an interesting story. As a geography lover, I understand how important portraying location is when illustrating an issue or topic.  However, people from all different backgrounds are able to present their stories and easily incorporate those spatial components. I know when I read through a good story map, I love that it is much more interactive and easy to follow than say a simple news article, and I think that is a common feeling among people these days.

How long does it take to make a story map? Where is it hosted? Are they updated in real time or when it’s done it’s done?

The time involved to make a story map definitely ranges. If you are starting from total scratch, it can take quite a while to build because there are a ton of moving parts. All of the story maps we create at Millennium Geospatial are created using Esri and hosted on an Esri server. We can continuously update a story map and real-time data that we may have embedded into a story map (such as Dashboards) update in real time.

How do we determine what to put into one of our story maps for a completed project?

Honestly, this is the most difficult part for me when creating a story map. I start with a general case study outline: background information, the problem, the approach, the outcome and conclusions and then I grow the story map from there. It’s important to make sure the text is informative and engaging, yet concise – and this can be a difficult task!

Also, landing on the best way to visualize the information can be a challenge. Should certain parts be portrayed in a map? How can this part easily flow to the next section? What can I do to keep things varied and engaging, but also organized with a general theme? These are some of the questions I am constantly pondering as I create a story map.

What is one of your favorite features of the tool?

I really enjoy working with the latest story mapping tools within Esri because they allow you to make beautiful maps so quickly and easily. Overall, I love seeing what others have created and learning about all different topics in this format of storytelling. Esri allows people from all backgrounds to convey their story in a unique manner!

Kaitlyn Bisping is a GIS Intern at Millennium Geospatial. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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8.10.2020

WISP To FISP: 5 Things You Should Know!

Back in June, we hosted a free educational webinar on some of the important things to keep in mind when taking your business from a WISP to a FISP. In case you missed it, we’ve decided to share some of those insights here on the blog!

Who should consider shifting from WISP to FISP?

Ask yourself this question: Do you want to play offense or defense with your business strategy? Not into sports analogies? Try this instead: Do you want to be proactive or reactive with your business strategy? If you answered “offense” and/or “proactive”, then you may be ready to make the jump from WISP to FISP.

What should you do?

When it comes to making this shift, there is no one-and-only way to do it. Here are some things to consider – Do you want…

  • Cheapest?
  • Fastest?
  • Best quality?

We know: ALL OF THE ABOVE! But it doesn’t work that way, so think about what is of the utmost importance to you and this will help to drive what you will need to do.

When is the right time to make the shift?

Clients we have worked with always say NOW or YESTERDAY once they are on the other side of the project, so know that the feelings of uncertainty do tend to fade. Until then, ask yourself is it:

  • Financially feasible?
  • Time to upgrade anyway?

Also consider:

  • Time of year – is it a factor?
  • Is there competition nearby?
  • Are we interested in a long-term or short-term investment?

Where should you do it?

  • What makes the most sense?
  • Do we want to focus on our current footprint or edge out at this time?
  • Home density
  • Proximity to Transport Network
  • Take rates? Highest first?

Why should we make this shift?

  • Does the business case make sense?
  • Economics/rate of return
  • Is there funding availible?
  • Is a long-term presense in the community a goal?

How can we get this up and rolling?

  • Funding – Grants, Loans, State, Federal, RDOF…
  • Timing
  • Sign-ups/Pre-sale customers
  • Marketing (Announcements, Door Hangers…)
  • Project Management
  • Customer Complaint Management

INTANGIBLES – There is ALWAYS something!

  • Things we didn’t think would be a problem…
  • Things we thought would and weren’t…
  • Contracts
  • Warranty/Retainage/Liquidated Damages
  • Permits /Fees/Liabilities
  • Established yards, concrete driveways, etc.
  • Clean Up/Restoration
  • Take Rates, Drops and Splicing (Track?)
  • As-Builts and Records going forward? Options
  • Ongoing maintenance and outages (Master Contract?)
  • The impact of Social Media on build (Positive and Negative)

A LOT to consider – we know. We don’t take for granted how much there is to keep in mind, so we created a checklist on this topic. Click here to request a free copy (we’ll also send you a link to a recording of the June webinar)!

Questions? We’re always happy to help – click here to contact our team!

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7.21.2020

MEET THE TEAM: Luke Blose, GIS Implementation Manager

In our MEET THE TEAM series, we interview members of our team to help you get to know them personally and professionally. We continue the series with Luke Blose.

  • GIS Implementation Manager
  • Also trains team members in the Millennium Geospatial Internship Program
  • Based in the main office in Madison, WI
  • Connect with Luke on LinkedIn

Education: BS Business Administration Western Michigan University, FTTH certification in November 2017

Experience: For the past 4 years Luke has been engineering large-scale fiber optic networks for clients accross North America. He’s worked on fiber optic overbuilds in southern and central Wisconsin to provide more reliable, higher speeds, and more bandwidth to customers. Luke also recruits, trains and mentors members of the MGS Internship program.

Favorite Thing(s) To Do Professionally: Luke enjoys the relationships he is able to build in the industry, as well as working with the technology through new tools and engineering practices. Getting out in the field, teaching and leading eager professionals, and assisting in the process of providing broadband to people in need are some of the things that make his job enjoyable.

Favorite Thing(s) To Do Personally: Hunting, fishing, traveling, golf, boating, cook outs.

Little Known Fact: Luke was born on Groundhog Day!

Currently Working On: Luke enjoys studying waterfowl hunting tactics and techniques year round, to improve his chances of success during the fall season.

Advice to someone entering this industry: Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make mistakes, but always make it a point to learn from your mistakes. There are a lot of opportunities to grow throughout your career. Leave your comfort zone every chance you get!

If you enjoyed this blog post, click here to sign up to receive an email whenever a new post is published. This way you will never miss any information!

Interested in reading other MEET THE TEAM posts? Click here to learn more about Thomas Mattimiro!

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6.16.2020

The Internship Program At Millennium Geospatial

While there are more and more opportunities to study GIS in college, hands-on experience is an invaluable opportunity for any self-starter with curiosity and interest in maps and technology to try out a career in GIS. The Intern program at Millennium Geospatial was created to give people a paid opportunity to learn GIS and make a difference in communities where their projects are located.

Think about how time was/is spent during the pandemic of 2020. People around the globe have relied on an a daily Internet connection to connect with others personally and professionally. This quickly revealed where imporvement is needed for better access and connectivity. Many of our projects involve helping clients be a part of that solution.

Recently, several of our interns created a video to share what it’s like to work in GIS and on the Millennium Geospatial team. They did a great job producing this piece and we hope you find it informative and helpful.

If you are interested in learning more about the Millennium Geospatial intern program, click here to contact us!

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6.3.2020

FREE WEBINAR: WISP To FISP: 5 Things You Should Know

On Friday, June 19, 2020 at 10am Central, Kevin Maes from the Millennium Geospatial team, Josh Luthman from Imagine Networks LLC and Brad Morrow from CommScope will be presenting a free informational webinar titled:

WISP To FISP: 5 Things You Should Know

Millennium Geospatial worked with Josh to help build a new fiber network in Troy, OH. The information they will share on this webinar will be based on “we wish we had known/thought about this before…” and “based on what we know now…”. CommScope also brings valuable insight to this session from a materials standpoint. Some of the points that will be covered on the webinar include:

  • Who should do this?
  • What should you do?
  • When is the right time?
  • And more!

Click here to register for the webinar!

Kevin Maes brings 20+ years of outside plant engineering and construction experience to his role of VP of Engineering at Millennium Geospatial. Working with companies to generate and execute the best, most cost efficient plans for projects is what he enjoys most about his work. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn!

Josh Luthman brings over 13 years of experience as the owner, operator, and President of Imagine Networks LLC in rural Ohio. Connect with Josh on LinkedIn!

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4.27.2020

MEET THE TEAM: Thomas Mattimiro, GIS Manager

In our MEET THE TEAM series, we interview members of our team to help you get to know them personally and professionally. We continue the series with Thomas Mattimiro.

  • GIS Manager
  • Also trains team members in the Millennium Geospatial Internship Program
  • Based in the main office in Madison, WI
  • Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn

Education: BS Physics University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, FTTH certification in November 2018

Experience: For the past 2 years Thomas has been engineering large-scale fiber optic networks for clients accross North America. He’s worked on fiber optic deployments in New York state that were funded through the state’s broadband initiative. Recruits, trains and mentors members of the MGS Internship program.

Favorite Thing(s) To Do Professionally: Thomas enjoys the autonomy that his position allows for as well as working with the technology, learning new tools that are coming available, training and teaching enginnering team members as well as leading the intern program at MGS.

Favorite Thing(s) To Do Personally: Ultimate Frisbee and Hiking

Little Known Fact: Gumby was invented in Thomas’ hometown of Hastings, MN!

Currently Working On: Thomas is hoping to coach Ultimate (Frisbee) in the near future. He’s interested in sharing his love of the game with high school and and middle school-aged kids.

Advice to someone entering this industry: There is a lot of opportunity. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be intimidated by lack of experience. It helps if you enjoy independence. You will likely get farther ahead faster if you’re inquisitive.

If you enjoyed this blog post, click here to sign up to receive an email whenever a new post is published. This way you will never miss any information!

Interested in reading other MEET THE TEAM posts? Click here to learn more about Kevin Maes!

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4.21.2020

From The Trenches: Real Stories From Our GIS Engineers

This article was written by Taylor McMaster from the MGS team and originally appeared in our Q1 2020 email newsletter. Not receiving the newsletter yet? Click here to join the list!

Out in the field, you never know what to expect.

Not too long ago we received a field assignment to review a few handholes that we couldn’t locate from satellite imagery – three handholes to be exact. The project area was in the eastern part of Madison, WI along I-90. Knowing that we had to pop open a few handholes, I needed to find some help to lift those heavy things.

I tapped our most seasoned intern, Austin, to assist. The first handhole we found ended up having its own little ecosystem hiding inside:

See them? Look closely…

The second handhole had its own surprise in-store. It wasn’t actually a handhole, but rather an exposed manhole:

We searched for the third handhole, but could not locate it. We noticed an orange marker post off in the distance. After walking up to the orange post, we still didn’t see the handhole the marker is supposed to highlight. Then I noticed a piece of barbed wire sticking out of the ground. 

I yanked and yanked on the barbed wire and discovered the wire was anchored to something. It was wired to the handhole grip and the handhole was camouflaged with mud. The last person to open that handhole used barbed wire to lift it…

Out in the field, you never know what to expect.

Taylor McMaster in an Engineering Manager at Millennium Geospatial. Connect with him on LinkedIn. Austin West is a Geospatial Engineer in the MGS Intern Program. Interested in joining the MGS team? Contact us!

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3.24.2020

The Millennium Ecosystem

Millennium Geospatial exists to help aid Rural Utility Co-Ops, Wisps, Construction companies and Independent Network providers with their Engineering & Design needs. In a nutshell: we want to Connect Rural America. We’re putting a good dent in that goal – check out our every changing service map for current and past projects.

In addition to our services which include Feasibility Studies, Geospatial Engineering, Project Management and Records Integration, there are other ways that we are helping to Connect Rural America and we refer to this as The Millennium Ecosystem:

At Millennium, we’re more than a materials supplier. We’re redefining what a distributor means. As a nationwide distributor of fiber optic network materials that build telecommunication networks, Millennium offers a host of solutions to help providers. Examples include introducing new technologies that will make networks more reliable, managing project and material needs and the rental and leasing of capital equipment.

To learn about how WaveDirect Telecommunication – a Rural High Speed Internet carrier in Ontario, Canada worked with MGS and Millennium on a recent project by clicking here.

To discover how Imagine Networks – a High Speed Internet company in Ohio worked in conjunction with MGS and Millennium on a recent project, click here.

At Millennium Leasing, we can make capital equipment available to our customers so they can put their materials to work and keep projects moving on schedule. For example, WaveDirect Telecommunication – the company referenced above – obtained splicing training through Millennium Leasing at the office in Delevan, WI before investing in splicing equipment for the company.

Overall, it’s our goal to make an experience with Millennium Geospatial (or any of the companies within The Millennium Ecosystem) much more than a one-time, transactional thing. We are here to support and collaborate, to plan and to strategize, to engage and connect people with the best resources to meet their current and future needs. We believe that there is a lot of work to be done, and we’re all in this together. We’re proud to have a multifacited ecosystem to work within so that we can serve our customers well.

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3.23.2020

How To Use Zoom For Online Meetings

Online meetings are not a new concept in general, but they are a very new concept for millions of people around the world. In the telecom industry, there are many meetings to be had, and these meetings can happen virtually much of the time thanks to technology that has become inexpensive to obtain and easy to use.

We’ve used Zoom as well as Google Hangouts for meetings within our team as well as with prospects and clients and we find Zoom is software that just about everyone can figure out in the fastest amount of time and with the least amount of stress. With more and more companies having to take business 100% online for now, it’s important that everyone have a way to connect/feel connected. We wanted to share the steps for getting up and running with Zoom here in a blog post that we can easily share online with anyone who can benefit from the information. We hope this is helpful as you shift much of your daily office activities to the virtual environment.

Desktop Steps – If You Are Using A Computer/Laptop

1. Go to Zoom.us

2. Click/Enter This Info:

A screen will pop up asking you to confirm the email address you entered:

There will now be a message on the screen telling you to check your email inbox. There will be an email from Zoom to confirm your email address again – this will activate your new Zoom account:

Once you click on the “Activate Account” button in the email referenced above, you will be logged in to your new Zoom account. You will land on this screen where you need to enter your name and password you want to use when you log in to Zoom:

On the next screen you can invite other people to sign up for Zoom – not necessary at this point. Just click “Skip This Step”. Important Note: The person/people you meet with via Zoom DO NOT NEED TO HAVE A ZOOM ACCOUNT TOO. You will be sending them a link and/or a meeting id and they can use that info to enter YOUR meeting.

On the next screen, there will be a link. This is your meeting link. You can use it over and over. Go ahead and click the link on your screen now and “practice” using Zoom. We promise, you cannot break anything!

Copy/paste the link referenced above so you have it for future use. Important Note: You can access this link at any time by following these steps after you have an account:

1. Go to Zoom.us

2. Click “Sign In” in the top right corner of the screen.

3. Enter your email address and password to log in.

4. You should land on your personal profile and there link is right there.

Mobile Phone/IPad Steps – If You Are Using A Smartphone or A Tablet

Even if you set up your Zoom account on your computer, you should still download Zoom’s free app for your smartphone or tablet so you can meet on those devices if you wish. And even if you don’t plan to set up a Zoom account of your own, having the app installed will help you quickly join in the fun of someone else’s meeting when the opportunity presents itself.

First, find the app in the App Store. For iPhone, it looks like this:

Once you have installed the app, log in (if you already have an account) or click to set up a free account. Both options are on this next screen (“Sign Up” or “Sign In”):

If you are signing up, the next screen will look like this:

Once you enter the info, “Sign Up” in the tip right corner of the screen will become clickable. Once you click, a message will come up on the screen that you need to check your inbox for an email verifying your email address. There is a link in that email to Activate Your Account.

A few more things to note:

The free account is adequate for unlimited meetings of 2 log ins. So if you log in and your colleague logs in, you can meet for an unlimited amount of time. If there are 3 or more log ins to the meeting (at the same time), a free meeting is limited to 40 minutes.

Zoom was built for online business meetings but there is no reason it can’t be used for all gatherings, so be sure to share this information with anyone who can benefit from an online connection tool at this time.

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3.13.2020

MEET THE TEAM: Kevin Maes, VP of Engineering

In our MEET THE TEAM series, we interview members of our team to help you get to know them personally and professionally. We begin the series with the company’s leader – Kevin Maes.

  • VP of Engineering
  • Also handles Business Development and Client Relations
  • Based in the main office in Madison, WI
  • Travels frequently to trade shows and speaking and training events across the US and Canada
  • Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn

Education: BS in Geography from the University of Minnesota

Experience: After serving 3 years in the US Army and obtaining his degree, Kevin has spent 25 years in the telecom industry in the areas of Project, Field, Management and Leadership roles.

Favorite Thing(s) To Do Professionally: Building the team and solving for the challenges that present themselves when building Fiber To The Home (FTTH) in Rural America.

Favorite Thing To Do Personally: Fly fishing! While Alaska has been the best fly fishing he’s experienced so far, upstate New York, Maine and the UK have also been incredible experiences.

Little Known Fact: Kevin was a fishing guide for one summer in Alaska – a very rugged and life-changing experience – ask him about it sometime!

Currently Working On: Kevin is creating a Fly Fishing Class and Event in collaboration with a few organizations that serve and suppport Veterans. He’s looking forward to rolling out this program later this year.

Advice to someone entering this industry: There is a ton of opportunity in this field. There always has been, but now more than ever.

Technology has been the game changer because the traditional roles are still needed but there are now new ways of looking at data and that can be combined with traditional practices.

This industry is never boring and it’s constantly changing. It’s a noble profession – tangible, you can see the impact you are having on communities in Rural America every day.

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3.11.2020

CASE STUDY: How Wave Direct Is Expanding Fiber Service Availability In Rural Canada

This is an excerpt from our newest case study: WAVEDIRECT CASE STUDY: Expanding Fiber Service Availability To Rural Areas Across Essex County Using Geospatial Technology and Analytics to Optimize Efficiency. You can access the complete report by clicking here.

The County of Essex in Ontario, Canada may not be the most familiar spot on the map, but it certainly “wins a lot of hearts and minds” and is one of Canada’s best kept secrets.

The area has a desirable climate, with enjoyable, long summers and mild winters. Being surrounded by three water features- Lake Erie,
Detroit River, Lake St. Clair – there are plenty of activities including boating, kayaking, fishing and paddle boarding.

Throughout the county, there is a perfect balance of urban and rural settings with both affordable and attractive housing. Many wineries and Bed & Breakfasts sprinkle the area, making it a lovely spot for tourists. There are also plentiful jobs with thriving manufacturing and agricultural sectors, and a short commute to Detroit for further work opportunities. As many residents declare, Essex is “a great place to live, work and play”.

Founded in 2003, WaveDirect is a telecommunications company located in Leamington, Ontario that specializes in providing high-speed internet to rural areas that lack these services. The internet coverage of WaveDirect continues to grow and currently reaches across Essex County.

THE CHALLENGE

For years, there has been an apparent digital divide between urban and rural areas. In many urban areas, high-speed internet has become more and more accessible, with speeds continuing to increase. However, the opposite is true for residents within rural areas. The Canadian Government recognizes the importance of quality internet for a community to thrive, especially within the digital economy. Though while 96% Canadian residents have access to proper broadband internet, only 39% of rural residents have access to these basic standards.

Click here to download the complete case study and discover the approach WaveDirect took to overcome the challenge and also the results that have come from this important project.

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3.9.2020

Telecommunication Industry Perspective: An Interview With Eric Marinakis

Our team has over 50 years of institutional knowledge. You can only rack up that kind of experience by grinding it out in the industry, learning as much as possible. While the x’s and o’s of our business are incredibly important, we place an equal amount of importance on what we can learn from those we know in the telecommunications industry.

We recently had the good fortune of interviewing Eric Marinakis, VP of Sales at Corning Optical Communications. Eric has been in the industry for over 30 years so he’s seen a lot and he knows a lot more. This interview originally appeard in our quarterly newsletter.

Kevin Maes, Millennium Geospatial: Based on your 30+ years in the industry, what do you see that is different today about the industry than, say, 10 years ago?

Eric Marinakis, Corning Optical Communications: The pace of installations, the lower cost of bringing fiber deeper and the morphing of product sets to be smaller, denser and more flexible.

KM: What do you think is the biggest challenge/obstacle to getting more fiber deeper into Rural America?

EM: More qualified fiber installers, tighter training and practices, enhanced glass for more flexible and smaller cable designs.

KM: Do you think 5G will have an impact on the company’s decision-making around getting Fiber deeper into their networks?

EM: The 5G use case, as laid out by a highly regarded, top executive to our team, is fascinating and compelling. Network security is top of news and we cannot continue to grow and live the way we currently are without tightening up this area in every way. In other areas, like enhanced factory automation, smart buildings and cities, autonomous vehicles and robotic surgery, 5G leads us forward.

KM: What’s been the biggest surprise to you related to the industry?

EM: Continued growth. I started in the 80’s and what a ride it has been. Fiber to the desk, home and business was once a nice thought that was just too costly. Then again, we carried a bag phone back then too…

KM: What do you think the industry will look like in 5 years?

EM: The next 5 years will be another major leap ahead as fiber circles our cities, enables our wireless life and continues to change how we work, play and live.

Eric is the Vice President of Sales at Corning Optical Communications and has been a Senior Sales Executive in the Global Telecommunications Industry for over three decades.

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3.3.2020

Millennium Introduces Engineering Arm To Their Material Distribution And Rental/Leasing Portfolio

DELAVAN, WI: Millennium, a nationwide distributor of fiber optic network materials has announced the addition of Millennium Geospatial, an engineering & design company to their portfolio.

Millennium Geospatial will be focused on helping Rural Utility Co-operatives, Wisps, and Independent Network providers with their Engineering & Design needs.

In a statement, James Kyle, Founder and CEO of Millennium stated: “Our clients turn to Millennium for help in updating their existing networks and building new broadband networks. Millennium has always offered a host of solutions to help providers from introducing new technologies that will make their networks more reliable, managing their project and material needs, to the rental and leasing of capital equipment. It made sense to introduce an Engineering arm to our portfolio of products and services so that our clients can continue to rely on Millennium to bring the best possible solutions and services to help their business grow. Millennium can now provide an end-to-end solution in development to deployment of broadband networks. Our engineering solutions are built on scalable solutions and ready for the next generation of technology.”

Millennium Geospatial is headquartered in Madison, WI where they will offer a host of products and services to support the needs of network providers from beginning to end. They plan to offer the following:

  • Feasibility Studies: Providing all the pieces of a FTTH network that allows you to make an informed
    decision. Our consultative approach outlines a step-by-step implementation plan that will examine
    various cost factors, options and timelines while examining financing needs based on the design.
  • Geospatial Engineering: Engineered Designs gauged towards data analytics that will drive more
    reliable and cost effective network solutions. Our engineering services will use data to create the most
    technologically advanced networks that will ultimately save network owners time, money, and
    headaches by providing a platform to view geographic & spatial intelligence into the planning and
    design of a network. Identifying and leveraging this data into our designs allows our clients to be more
    profitable faster. We’ll provide an engineering package with the specification drawings needed to
    build your broadband network while detailing materials and proper permitting needs.
  • Construction Supervision: Managing and supervising your network build. We’ll manage the details
    from permitting, project management of materials, timelines and costs on behalf of the client so that
    specifications are adhered to from the engineered design.
  • Records Conversion: Updating and Converting existing records and integrate them into a single
    platform using Geospatial Data. Dissecting the data to identify areas in need of maintenance &
    redesign, track existing and potential outages, and identify trends using the data to plan for future
    needs.

For further information regarding Millennium or Millennium Geospatial, contact marketing@mymillennium.us or info@millenniumgeospatial.com.

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