Telecoms and utility operators today manage networks that are more complex than ever. With the creation of 5G and smart grids we are constructing some of the world’s most complex, distributed “machines” ever imagined. This means that operators are now forced to deal with numerous rich information systems across their enterprise, each with specialized tasks or applications that usually require highly skilled people to curate them. These include systems for managing customers, network assets, inventory, workforces, processes and many more. A Geographic Information System (GIS) is another one of these many data resources, where the main “asset” is the geospatial position of a record and connectivity. In this way, GIS proponents often position it as a kind of information hub, because most data can be represented geographically in some way, via a coordinate, an address, or other spatial reference.
Going beyond GIS
All this technology is essential for managing our increasingly complex network machines, but it frequently leads to a plethora of applications and “experts” with siloed information that makes for inefficient operations with often conflicting or out-of-date information. The search for consolidated access to disparate information is as old as information itself (the difference between data and knowledge). Geospatial technology finds itself in a privileged position by representing data in a uniquely compelling and powerful way, showing us the spatial relationship between previously disconnected information. At IQGeo we believe in the power of geospatial technology, but it must go far beyond the concept of “enterprise GIS” as a centralized solution. For any solution to be successful with today’s, and tomorrow’s, complex network requirements it must be focused on the network itself (not just the geospatial aspect of the network) and bring together applications, data, and workflows into an easy-to-use “single pane of glass” for all stakeholders across the organization.
“At IQGeo we believe in the power of geospatial technology, but it must go far beyond the concept of “enterprise GIS” as a centralized solution.”
The legacy GIS silo
Even though GIS has made great strides, it is still an information silo with its own set of specialist applications for accessing information and its own certified specialists essential for curation. The data consumer still finds themselves dependent on internal experts to make information available through specialists and often disconnected applications. This orthodoxy simply no longer has a place and is compromising business KPIs. Everyday telecommunication, electric and gas utility networks are putting more technology at the literal edge of their networks and software solutions must reflect this distributed reality by empowering stakeholders across the organization to view, interrogate and contribute to the accuracy and quality of the network data. A distributed network demands an open “field sourced” approach that is focused on the network and not the applications.
But at the end of the data (pun intended), it is the operational teams in the office and field that need this accurate and up-to-date network view to overcome their business challenges. Since we all know that data is one of the most expensive assets to acquire and maintain for any organization, it is critical that all stakeholders can access it quickly and easily for maximum benefit. To achieve this, the people using the systems cannot afford to be experts and must have a simple single pane of glass that nevertheless provides a sophisticated and consolidated geospatial view of their network and application assets. You must be able to dynamically consult, analyze, correlate, and make decisions based on data from multiple sources simultaneously in a way that is relevant to your workflow. And since those workflows may not be known in advance, and will be different for each organization, these very workflows must be configurable.
Finding Albert Einstein
An analogy is using Google Maps in your private life. Today Google Maps (not Google the search engine) is often sufficient to navigate to the information you need using a map as the entry point, even if the information itself is not obviously spatial.
Let’s say you want to learn about Albert Einstein, so you type “Albert Einstein” into Google Maps. Albert is clearly a person, not a place, so why start with Google Maps? You do this because of the wealth of information about Albert Einstein that can be found via a geographic starting point. Your search will present various results, starting with the location of his house, a museum about him, and restaurants and other businesses named after him. Then, with one additional click you can find a synopsis of his life on Wikipedia, see the location of his birthplace with Google Maps, display a list of each of his principal discoveries via an on-line encyclopedia, get his IQ from ZME Science, discover his wife’s name, learn about his university, and much more. You are experiencing Albert Einstein through a single pane of geospatial glass.
The vision of the IQGeo geospatial platform
You need this kind of easy and intuitive access across your entire enterprise network data repository and using the IQGeo Platform our customers are creating a consolidated, single pane of geospatial glass. If you type “critical customers” into the IQGeo search window you could see a map with a collection of hospitals, airport control towers and other facilities that must be protected from electrical and communications network disruption and would be high priority for restoration if networks should fail. Click on any one of these facilities and you see the equipment they have in operation, real-time data about resource consumption at those locations, details on their customer account, and how best to reroute a signal in the event of outage. Customer records are coming from a CRM, real-time consumption information from sensors, maintenance history on infrastructure from an ERP, circuit and circuit-rerouting possibilities from network management and OSS or BSS applications. All this with a simple search using your finger on a tablet or phone while working in the field.
“You are looking at all the data through a single pane of glass that allows you to intuitively browse the entire network machine.”
The IQGeo Platform that you are interacting with is pulling the data dynamically from a variety of sources without you even knowing. None of the underlying applications has a “home-field advantage” and you don’t need to know how to query any one of those systems individually. As with the other applications and data sources, your GIS is playing only a part in the overall picture that is being created. You are looking at all the data through a single pane of glass that allows you to intuitively browse the entire network machine. The integration between systems happens in the background and relevant information is presented through an easy-to-use, Google-like, interface.
The right tools for the time
It is time to give office and field stakeholders immediate and intuitive access to the information they need to do their jobs efficiently without requiring specialist data products or analyses provided on-request by siloed gatekeepers. At IQGeo we provide the tools and capabilities that allow telecoms and utility operators to see their network machine in one powerful view. The business and operational benefits realized through this single pane of glass are clear for everyone to see.