The Biggest Misconception About GIS

GIS is no doubt a game changer. We shared our perspective on “life” in our industry “before” and “after” GIS in the blog post we wrote to celebrate GIS Day a few months ago titled “Why GIS?”click here to check it out again.

While much has been written and demonstrated in the field about the power of GIS, misconceptions remain. The biggest misconception about GIS that we regularly encounter is that it’s too expensive and too complicated.

Like Comparisons

GIS is an investment, and sometimes it’s a significant investment. But the important thing to consider is like comparisons. GIS is more expensive than what? Traditional drafting and mapping tools and records systems? Possibly, but do the tools actually do the same thing? Is this a like comparison?

We won’t keep you waiting too long – the answer is: No, GIS vs. traditional methods are not a like comparison. Why not? Two words:

Spatial Analytics

Spatial analysis allows you to solve complex location-oriented problems and better understand where and what is occurring in your world. You can read more about spatial analysis in this article from Esri.

GIS allows you to solve location-oriented challenges. Examples:

Supply chain – It’s important to track inventory. For a company who has inventory in one place, a handful of customers buying a handful of whatever the company sells a few times a month, records managment can probably be pulled off with some fairly basic tools.

Now, think about the company with multiple locations, inventory sitting in multiple locations, hundreds to thousands of clients, also with multiple locations, hundreds to thousands of projects also with multiple locations. How can we track that? Using GIS.

Emergency response – We recently learned about how the health department in Linn County Iowa used GIS to help with the public health response to not one but two emergency situations in the past year. It’s impressive and worth sharing. Read all about their use of Dashboards here. Mapping Urgent Needs with Location Intelligence is the takeaway here, and it clearly can be a game changer.

Another example of using GIS to help solve public health issues involves the work an organization called Educate Girls is doing in India. In this TED talk, the organization’s founder explains that they were able to greatly improve their efforts when they started using GIS to more accurately determine the areas they needed to provide outreach to. To date they have been able to help more than 750,000 girls and realistically, without GIS, that number would be significantly lower.

While these two emergency response examples are not directly related to telecom, here are some ways to look at these solutions through a utilities lens:

Education is a big componant of what we do here at Millennium Geospatial. We don’t anticipate ever being finished explaining the merits of GIS because it’s such a complex topic. If you take one thing away from this article, we hope it’s this:

Spatial analysis, combined with the ability to integrate with other existing systems within an organization is what will set companies apart from their competitors in the future. It’s not an if, it’s a when.

5 Ways Geospatial Data Integration Can Make Companies Better

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.Alan Lakein

We consider incorporating GIS for Data Integration a future-thinking approach and investment because we fully acknowledge that data has been cared for in the telecom industry for well over one hundred years without the aid of GIS. But we do find that businesses get better when they focus on having quality data. Here are 5 ways GIS Data Integration methods are beneficial to telecom companies:

Under One Roof

We recently talked about the benefits of having data pulled together in one spot in our Construction Efficiencies post. When it comes to Data Integration, take everything you have learned about this concept one step further – now the real fun can begin:

More Bang For The Initially Intended Use Buck

Once you’ve brought your data “under one roof”, you can do things you couldn’t easily do before:

Combine legacy information/data with new information. Think about the potential of combining things like:

On top of combining the actual business data, you can also factor in, for example, weather data. Is there a correlation between outage data and weather data? Probably. Now that we know this, what steps can we proactively take to minimize risk?

“Predicting” The Future

Data in one place + combining data to derive patterns = often knowing what’s likely going to happen (or not happen). What does this mean in real terms?

“Better” Marketing

If your company uses an email marketing software, you may know that the software is likely built to know who has opened your marketing emails and who has not. Some email marketing software “knows” who clicked links in emails and who shared the emails with friends. The reason this is powerful is that you can send relevant information to people. If you have 100 people you’re communicating with, you can follow up with 50 people one way and 50 people another way based on actions they did or did not take. That’s “better” marketing.

Now let’s look at this in the context of Data Integration. Using data you can determine:

With filters like this in place, every dollar spent on marketing goes further because you have narrowed into a data set of mostly people who are likely interested in what you have to offer them.

Acquisition Value

It’s a given that knowing what you have and where you have it with your current customers and infrastructure can help you determine existing and potential value. Now think about if/when an investor comes along interested in acquiring your company. There is value in data. Clean data. Quality data. Forward thinking businesses should always keep the potential for acquisition in mind and plan accordingly. Data Integration is a powerful way to stay a step ahead of the competition.

Have additional questions about Data Integration? Contact us and we’ll let you know what might be the best next step based on your vision and goals.

5 Tips/Tools For Helping Companies Achieve Construction Efficiencies

Efficiency is one of those buzzwords that is equal parts exciting and intimidating. In this corner, we have EXCITING:

And in this corner, we have INTIMIDATING:

Building efficiencies into a telecom business is critical to get/stay/remain competitive and relevant in today’s marketplace and we’re pleased to report that the tools for doing so are becoming more accessible and user friendly by the minute. Here are 5 tips/tools that are helping companies achieve construction efficiencies right now:

Have A Centralized Place For All Records (GIS or Otherwise)

While we think that GIS is the way to go, we understand that it’s not for everyone and/or it may take awhile to make a conversion. With this in mind, we strongly suggest that businesses have a centralized place/method for records regardless of format. Even if things are in csv, BI report, KMZ, etc, consolidate them. Why? For all the reasons that you would think:

Use/Convert To GIS Methods

The reason that GIS is the basis for most of the solutions we support clients with and through is spatial analysis. It’s undeniable that you can do so much more when you add spatial analysis to the mix. Think about info sitting in an Excel spreadsheet and then think of the same info sitting on a Dashboard with real-time updates (both are explained below). It’s a night and day difference.

Dashboards

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Dashboards and frankly, so is much of the world these days. You can read all about Dashboards in this recent blog post we devoted to the topic. In terms of today’s topic of creating construction efficiencies, it comes down to the old saying: What’s measured is improved. Also:

Real-Time Updates

Think about that encyclopedia set that sat on the shelf at your parent’s or grandparent’s house when you were a kid. The info was as up to date as when the creators hit the PUBLISH button and sent it to print. That was awesome for the times, but when we know better, we do better, and that’s why Encyclopedia Britannica stopped printing encyclopedias on March 13, 2012. Here in the land of telecom, some of the pros of real-time updates include:

Field Apps

Using devices like iPads, iPhones, Android phones and the like out in the field are what enables real-time updates and reporting to occur. It works like this:

Another benefit of using field apps is that the team out in the field becomes more engaged with the project management team. This is a win/win for everyone involved, including ultimately the consumer.

Efficiency is one of these things that everyone likes the idea of doing, but it can be challenging to figure out what to do and where to start. The tips we shared here run the gamut from really easy to implement to needing to make an investment of time, resources, and training. Regardless of where you fall on the range, just start somewhere because construction isn’t getting any cheaper so we have to take steps to be more efficient whenever possible. The smallest step, coupled with measurable results, can really be game changing for an organization.

Have additional questions about Construction Efficiencies? Contact us and we’ll let you know what might be the best next step based on your vision and goals.

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

This is an excerpt from our case study titled: 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.