Esri TelUG Webinars are must-see TV for telecommunications GIS professionals. Throughout the year, Randy Frantz (Esri Telecommunications Industry Strategy Lead) and Patrick Huls (Esri Technical Evangelist for Telecommunications & Utilities) host six webinars highlighting industry trends and topics. The Esri TelUG webinars also show how Esri GIS users in the telecommunications industry can take advantage of the ArcGIS Platform to solve critical business problems and make their day to day work more efficient.
This year’s schedule of events in the Esri TelUG webinars series has six free webinars, focused on a wide range of topics:
In this blog post we’ll hit the high points and key takeaways from the first two Esri TelUG webinars of the year, along with discussing what the upcoming webinars will have in store for the community.
Every Communications Service Provider using (or considering the use of) the ArcGIS Platform to support their network management and operations needs to have a solid technology foundation in place. This foundation helps them take full advantage of what GIS can provide for their organization. In this January webinar, Randy and Patrick covered some of the key capabilities of the Web GIS pattern. That includes what this pattern has enabled over the past few years, along with outlining some of the new technologies and capabilities users can expect in the future. Here’s a few of the specific highlights of the January webinar:
Traditionally, GIS has been thought of as a “System of Record.” This means the GIS can be a database housing the locations of network elements and attributes about those elements. Using the GIS as a System of Record allows GIS users to manage all this information alongside the ability to perform spatial analysis. As technology evolved and organizational needs changed, we have seen a technological shift in recent history from the use of client/server technology to access and manage this data — toward the use of web services. Web services opened up new capabilities, functionality and applications to those using GIS. Content could now be accessed not just through the desktop, but also on the web and via mobile devices as well.
This transformation allowed CSPs to take their core System of Record and integrate it into a System of Engagement. Becoming a System of Engagement allowed CSPs to share their authoritative content with other, non-GIS users. This included users throughout their organization along with members of the community or public, via web services and web maps. Additionally, by making this data available via web services, Esri did one final thing. They allowed the GIS to become a System of Insight. Systems of Insight allow the authoritative data they contain to be used by analytical tools, which supports stronger and faster decision making and higher-level analysis not previously available to the organization.
After talking about the Web GIS pattern and the transformational architecture outlined above, Patrick Huls showcased the Web GIS pattern in action using ArcGIS Pro, Portal for ArcGIS, and Operations Dashboard. Patrick started the demonstration in ArcGIS Pro, showcasing how to use the newer application to process a wireless coverage raster file and turn it into vector format for improved speed and web map usage. By using a geoprocessing tool in Pro, Patrick was able to easily process the raster in preparation for building a web map to share via a portal. Lastly, he added additional datasets — like backbone fiber routes and cell sites — to provide additional information other users in the organization would need.
Patrick then showcased the portal as a System of Engagement. To do this, he highlighted the ability of GIS users to set up groups that can be used to cater content access and availability to specific departments within your organization. This truly opens the GIS to be engaged by members throughout a telecommunications company, rather than just the GIS department.
Finally, the presentation highlighted how users can take web maps and configure a workflow-specific app by using the Web App Builder technology. By using Web App Builder, Patrick was able to showcase the ability to support a CSP’s sales group by providing a web application for bulk serviceability analysis. This web app would allow a sales representative to drag and drop a list of customers onto the map, and provided back a geocoded customer location along with level of service information and a list of services available to that customer. Imagine the possibilities for your sales team!
Patrick’s demo truly highlighted the power of authoring a single web map or set of web maps using your authoritative, System of Record, and then sharing this information as web services for many types of users within your organization, web mapping applications, or other business needs. All the while, these workflows are being supported with the same data and web services being made available by your Enterprise Portal.
To round out the January foundations webinar, Patrick touched on some of the latest capabilities available at the ArcGIS 10.5 release for your System of Record, System of Engagement, and System of Insight.
At 10.5, the combination of ArcGIS Server, Portal for ArcGIS, ArcGIS Data Store, and ArcGIS Web Adaptor were wrapped up into a new package called ArcGIS Enterprise. ArcGIS Enterprise offers the ability to deploy the ArcGIS platform on premise, in cloud infrastructure, or on Esri’s own managed services. It is a fully integrated web-based GIS to support your content management and analysis needs, providing the software foundation for your System of Record and System of Engagement.
At the 10.5 release, there is a new application, Insights for ArcGIS. Insights for ArcGIS provides data analytics capabilities to support your System of Insight. Insights for ArcGIS does this by providing both spatial and tabular analysis via a “drag and drop” user interface. The application is geared toward users wanting to do data exploration or data science with GIS and non-GIS data in their organization.
During the demonstration of Insights for ArcGIS, Patrick showcased how a user could take bandwidth consumption information by Hybrid Fiber-Coax node and combine it with trouble ticket information to answer questions around: Where are there bandwidth issues on my existing nodes that are causing a large volume of trouble tickets?
The webinar concluded with some discussion around recently released capabilities for GeoAnalytics Server, Image Server, and GeoEvent Server along with a very active question and answer section.
For those of you interested in watching the recording, you can find it here.
March brought another great webinar showcasing how GIS technology can be used to more efficiently and effectively. This time, the topic of the Esri TelUG Webinar series was serviceability. In other words, how GIS can help to generate revenue from service requests by customers. Currently, most network operators can build the best networks, but if they are unable to fulfill requests for service in a fast and cost-effective manner, they risk losing customers to the competition. This webinar not only featured Randy and Patrick from Esri, again, but also welcomed Mike Pordes, Director of Software Development and Analytics for Patrick Engineering.
CSPs providing retail services all face challenges in qualifying a customer’s service request. Be it determining the customer’s location, their proximity to the existing network, or what services are or could be available to that customer, serviceability can involve many different parts of the business. It can also be done using old, inaccurate, and in many cases, non-spatial information. Sadly though, these inefficiencies can lead to CSPs not being able to provide a quote to the customer during the initial customer contact. In some cases, this leaves the customer having to wait an extended period of time while another department evaluates the request and provides the quote. In a competitive environment, any time a customer is waiting for a response increases the possibility that the customer will choose the competition.
During the March webinar, Patrick highlighted how GIS can streamline the serviceability process by more efficiently identifying a customer’s location, optimizing the routing back to the existing network, and taking in geographic and business influences to provide more accurate cost estimates to extend the network. Patrick demonstrated the Esri Point of Sale solution template on the ArcGIS Solutions site. He highlighted the template’s ability to be used by sales personnel in the field to provide quotes to fulfill customer requests. As in the January foundations webinar, this webinar showed off another great example of a web application using authoritative System of Record information. In this case, the information included the network model being managed and maintained by engineering, provided via web services to sales personnel. Thanks to web services, sales personnel can use the the engineering network model to confidently provide more accurate cost estimates quickly — all because they are using the GIS System of Engagement.
Although serviceability can start in the field, Patrick showed how the results of the analysis could be sent to the back office and be input into Network Planning processes. Evaluations of routes, other businesses that may be able to be served along that route, or any barriers to building out the network as originally planned.
Although the Esri solution templates available on the Esri solutions page provide functionality that meets many customers’ needs, some customers have identified the need to make the serviceability analysis more robust. In this webinar, Esri partner Patrick Engineering showcased their own Qualify with Confidence (QWiC) packaged solution. Mike Pordes showed how QWiC provided the ability to determine three separate possible routes to fulfill the request. He also showed how costs could be applied at the street segment level and how the application could provide a quick “go/no-go” decision for the user. QWiC is available on the ArcGIS Online marketplace for more enhanced serviceability analysis. As in most Esri TelUG webinars, there was a great question and answer period in this one.
If you are interested in watching the full webinar, you can find the webinar recording here.
Esri has four more webinars planned for the 2017 Telecommunications User Group webinar series:
Next up, on May 10, is a webinar titled “Bringing the field to the Engineer.” This webinar in the Esri TelUG webinar series will show you how GIS technology can facilitate the acceleration of the designing and planning stages of networks. Topics explored include tools that let you view high-resolution imagery, to see what challenges may exist for a network build. You’ll also explore how to reduce the number of non-productive field visits by engineers. This webinar will definitely be one to check out.
Later webinars will showcase:
- How GIS technology can be used to optimize capital investment through improved engineering and planning
- How GIS tools can improve sales and revenue for sales and marketing teams in a telecom
- How GIS dashboards can support operations, financial, and network performance data needs
These Esri TelUG webinars are truly informative, and I recommend anyone interested in the capabilities Esri provides for Telecommunications GIS make time to attend!