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Communication networks are continually evolving, and as these complex networks evolve, planners and engineers need the proper tools to design NextGen networks as effectively and efficiently as possible.



They need tools to properly design a network no matter the network technology or architecture, streamline the design through automation tools, track and manage all of the network designs supporting fiber densification and 5G build out, and easily share their designs to the field and others involved in the project. A complete GIS delivers solutions for all of these requirements, and ArcGIS is the only complete GIS designed for the telecommunications industry in mind. Let’s explore how ArcGIS can support planning and engineering NextGen communication networks.


The Project Life Cycle

The project process begins with planning and extends through high-level design, detailed engineering, and into construction. Teamwork between the office and field forces is critical to a smooth and cost-effective process. Correct as-built information feeds the organizations' sales efforts and service qualification practices. All these functions can capitalize on the same data and GIS platform: ArcGIS.


Information plays a key role throughout the entire project life cycle. ArcGIS goes beyond powerful mapping to unify the necessary data. A modern communications network is complex. Reliable engineering builds on detailed models and architecture rules of the network that reflect the real world. It relies on state-of-the-art visualization and analytics. These communicate engineering trade-offs and decisions. Designing networks that support both wireless and fixed network services demand flowing coordination and clear collaboration between departments and contractors.


Ninja Pro Tip: ArcGIS Workflow Manager | Enterprise Workflow Management System 


ArcGIS allows you to easily see and track all design projects and their phases; from planning through as-built. The worst scenario that can happen is two designs occur in the same location and duplicate efforts happen that could have been avoided using a GIS based project tracking tool to easily manage and see all the projects.


High-Level Design

ArcGIS uses location technology to hone engineering work and provides an all-inclusive view of the network and its surroundings.  Bring the field to the engineer with remote engineering tools like street level imagery and access to planning datasets so that engineers can see the many factors impacting their work.



Compelling analytics and robust tracing actions highlight valuable insights to better understand network capacity and automate network routes. Whether its FTTx or fiber backhaul, enter in your design rules and let ArcGIS do the heavy lifting of returning a high-level design that is ready for a walkout.


Ninja Pro Tip: Backhaul Optimization Solution Template


Detailed Engineering

The robust rule engine and framework within ArcGIS allows engineers to set up the design criteria and make changes with ease. Import architecture rules and equipment templates and lock down changes to allow for consistent network designs. As a web services platform, ArcGIS allows engineers to design from anywhere using a web or mobile app, or a traditional desktop client. 



Ninja Pro Tip: Learn more about ArcGIS Utility Network Management 


Along with traditional map views, schematic views are built into ArcGIS. Engineers need to evaluate detailed design considerations. To do so, they use schematics derived from the same solid data foundation stored in the GIS. As designs are completed and ready for permitting and construction, specific equipment details exist in the context of broad, location-based information. Reliable data reinforces tools to determine material and labor estimates based on actual field conditions, and generating an accurate BOM is quick and easy.


Coordination and Collaboration

Design information must be easily accessible to those that use it. Coordination and collaboration begin with a mobile-friendly technology platform. ArcGIS uses web services to reach out across the web and put the right information into the right hands, at the right time.

Convey Projects Widely on Any Device

ArcGIS changes the way field staff connect with engineering. It distributes information, map displays, and even 3D representations on any device. It does this for the office and the field—whether connected or disconnected.

Collaborate with Internal and External Participants

Crews, contractors, and planners alike all need design information like drawings and schematics. Internal and external stakeholders also need to share project updates. ArcGIS provides all members of project teams with the flexible, role-based information products they need to work together.

Distribute Design Information Instantaneously

ArcGIS promotes common understanding by communicating project information immediately. It works at the speed of a services-based architecture. It leverages cloud computing where needed and improves situational awareness at every point along design, construction, and operations workflows.


The Complete GIS—Supporting Planning and Engineering

Most telecommunications organizations already use GIS in some capacity. Yet how they use it is changing. ArcGIS is a complete GIS, meaning that it contains all the elements needed to meet planning and engineering challenges, not just to make conventional maps.


Ninja Pro Tip: ArcGIS Solutions for Telecom - Esri: Putting the Geospatial in 5G


ArcGIS supports real-world modeling. It delivers rich visualization and analytics with artificial intelligence (AI). It enables immediate coordination and collaboration with mobile apps and web browsers. It maintains key information needed for efficient design work. It discovers hidden meaning in data and distributes insights to everyone who needs business intelligence.


These capabilities unite all the phases of planning and engineering. They combine asset details with network performance and future plans. With location as the centerpiece, a complete design picture helps improve key performance indicators and business results. Telecom organizations face considerable challenges today and will continue to do so in the future. ArcGIS brings exceptional value to every organization’s engineering, design, and construction practice.


Be sure to check out the upcoming three part webinar series on ArcGIS Utility Network Management.


-  Webinar 1 (July 8) : 7 Steps to get started with the Utility Network - 9:00am - 10:00am

-  Webinar 2 (July 22) : The Business Value of ArcGIS Utility Network -9:00am - 10:00am

-  Webinar 3 (August 5) : Migration and Implementation to ArcGIS Utility Network - 9:00am -  10:00am


Register Today: 2020 Utility Network Webinar Series


Patrick Huls

Solution Engineer - Telecommunications

LinkedIn: Patrick Huls| Twitter: @SpatialNinja| GeoNet:Phuls-esristaff

Let me start by stating that I’m a solutions engineer for Esri, a geographic information systems (GIS) software vendor.  In our world, physical geography and location matter.  Esri has offered physical network inventory (PNI) solutions to the communications industry for many years. Which makes sense, because GIS is all about managing the geographic location of assets and spatially analyzing location information, so it’s the perfect technology for PNI. But as communication networks evolve, what does that mean for GIS?  As I began an existential crisis, I asked myself:


  • What happens to the PNI in a world where software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) takes over?
  • Are maps and location intelligence less important since network intelligence is less dependent on the physical hardware?
  • Does the physical network and location of switches or routers even matter anymore?
  • How will PNI solutions support NextGen network management in virtualized environments?
  • What role do location and GIS play in SDN?


Since I think spatially for a living, I figured I better get to work understanding the virtual world.


First off, what does SDN and NFV really mean? Well, it’s the evolution of networking where network functions like firewalls and web adapters (which have traditionally been hardcoded into hardware) get abstracted to a virtualized layer, called NFV services. These NFV services are controlled by one master traffic cop or controller, versus relying on the individual hardware itself. 


This allows you to dynamically add and remove NFV services and optimize network traffic without the restrictions of how physical switches and routers have been deployed into the network. APIs allow all these interactions and optimizations to take place between the data or hardware tier, NFV services tier, the controller, and the network applications on top.



The value that SDN brings is an open architecture that offers

  • less hardware vendor lock-in
  • enables on-demand new products and services that are software configured instead of requiring hardware replacement
  • network traffic can be optimized automatically during peak demand

So again, in an SDN world where network intelligence is less hardware dependent, do traditional PNI solutions, which provide information on the hardware and its networking characteristics, offer any value to NextGen network management where networking is all virtualized?  My answer would be yes, the PNI still matters, but not in its traditional use. The PNI can no longer be just a database in which you store as-builts.  It needs to be integrated directly into NextGen network management systems to support new business processes and network analytics.  Here are few examples of how the PNI can support NextGen network management.


Service Qualification

On-demand network services means on the fly service qualification is required. Where is the customer in the network and what services are available? The physical and logical network need to work closely together to answer that question. And from my experience, PNI and LNI systems and databases have historically been silo’d from each other, silo’d from other OSS/BSS, and even silo’d between different network technologies. One system to manage fiber, another to manage wireless, and another to manage coax and copper. To qualify services, independent of the physical network delivering the services, PNI systems need to support multiple network technologies and easily integrate with the LNI to help answer the question of where a customer is located, and what services are available at their location.  Relying on a desktop engineer to respond to a service qualification request in a matter of days or even hours will not cut it, the PNI and LNI working together will need to answer that question in near real-time.


From Design to As-Built

With 5G comes more small cell deployments and fiber densification. This means far more network design and buildout projects are occurring and even more as-builts are piling up. In order to support the real-time service qualification above, the PNI needs to seamlessly integrate with engineering tools and the whole design process. That way, once new physical network is built and operational, the as-builts feed right into the PNI and become a part of the service qualification process.  Only with an up to date PNI and LNI can you truly offer on-demand services that leverage near real-time service qualification.


Network Optimization

Network analytics is the secret sauce to SDN and NextGen network management. An SDN controller can orchestrate how traffic moves across the network and can dynamically allocate more or less bandwidth based on demand.  Network analytics and AI/ML tools will allow for real-time analysis of network capacity and enable proactive network optimization. Yup, forget PNM, PNO is the new acronym on the block. But in order to optimize network traffic, you’ll need to understand where demand is, what access points customers are connecting to, and any physical network restrictions.  These are all questions a GIS based PNI can answer. For example, to move virtual reality (VR) services closer to the edge and reduce latency concerns, you need to know where the edge is, and what hardware can store local video caches. If a natural disaster is going to affect a portion of the network, and you need to route network traffic around that area, you to know where that storm will impact the physical network. Again, the PNI can no longer just be a standalone database, and needs to be built on a highly scalable, services based, cloud native platform that allows for network analytics to be run on the physical network.


So there you have it, my thoughts on the roles the PNI will play in NextGen network management. It won’t be the PNI solutions of today, but an evolved, much more sophisticated GIS-based platform that integrates right into NextGen network management systems that leverage SDN. A platform that supports all network technologies, tightly couples PNI and LNI, provides network analytics, and is open. A platform like ArcGIS, with the new ArcGIS Utility Network Management framework.



To learn more about ArcGIS Utility Network Management, check out this blog.


And be sure to check out the up coming tech sessions at Esri’s Virtual User Conference.

  • Planning & Engineering Communication Networks with GIS
  • Network Operations & Maintenance of Communication Networks with GIS

Feel free to comment and let us know your thoughts on what role the PNI will play in SDN.



- Esri Telecom Team


Limitations of 5G frequencies and fiber densification will create a dependency on GIS and geospatial technology not seen in previous wireless technologies. Check out the latest Geospatially Enabling Telecom Blog: 


TelcoProfessionals - Telecomblog Profile - Why the G in 5G should stand for Geospatial – Part 2 


With 5G comes a dependency on location not seen in previous wireless technologies. In today's broadband economy, geospatial technology matters more than ever before, and the Science of Where is here to help. Check out the latest Geospatially Enabling Telecom Blog:


TelcoProfessionals - Telecomblog Profile - Why the G in 5G should stand for Geospatial – Part 1 

In this next Geospatially Enabling Telecom blog we'll look at a few of the Esri solutions to help your organization optimize resources. Resource optimization is not only optimizing telecom networks, but optimizing the people, processes, and systems that maintain and manage telecom networks. Understanding network performance in order to build open networks with growth in mind, while maximizing capacity on existing networks are key to resource optimization. But ensuring the processes and people who plan, build, and maintain the networks and support systems are also optimized is crucial to long term sustainability of asset management.


Esri’s ArcGIS can help telecom organizations and communication service providers (CSPs) optimize their resources through the use of location intelligence and GIS technology. ArcGIS solutions provide an advanced network model, geospatial visualization and analytics, and mobile apps that leverage an open and interoperable complete GIS. 




Network Model and Connectivity

Fixed Wireless and Fiber Planning

ArcGIS models the entire network with spatially accurate data. It has the tools to model fiber, COAX, wireless, and hybrid networks as they really are on the ground. ArcGIS's system of record for communication networks offers connectivity modeling of assets in two and three dimensions, supporting best practices and industry standards.  By leveraging one complete GIS for managing all aspects of the network, from design to as-built, CSPs can ensure networks are optimized and the right network technology is built in the right location, at the right time.




Getting Started with Fixed Wireless and Fiber Planning

To get started and for more information, check out this blog on the next generation network management solution in ArcGIS, or view this story map for details on wireless planning solutions.


Visualization and Analytics

Territory Design

CSP’s want a greater insight into their operations and daily processes. Map visualization and spatial analysis can play a strong role in effectively managing people and processes. ArcGIS’s spatial analytics tools for territory design can optimize the areas a technician services to ensure jobs are getting completed as assigned and install windows are being met.



Getting Started with Territory Design

To get started and for more information, check out the territory design tool apart of ArcGIS Business Analyst.


Mobile and Interoperable

Drop/Bury Management

ArcGIS brings network functionality to any device, anytime, anywhere for complete operational awareness. Advanced data collection tools for the field shorten network build outs and improve asset inspections. Share the immediate state of assets and projects with corporate.  ArcGIS apps can also improve collaboration between contractors and CSPs to ensure network drops are buried in a timely fashion. Whatever the field workflow may be, ArcGIS apps can be configured to support it, and if not, the extensive developer framework allows for extending the mobile apps with open SDKs.



Getting Started with Drop/Bury Management

To get started and for more information, check out ArcGIS QuickCapture and Operations Dashboard. And for other examples of ArcGIS mobile apps supporting field operations, take a look at this story map.


Also, be sure to re-watch the whole Resource Optimization Webinar from late last year to see all of the Esri solutions in action. Please feel free to comment below on anything covered in this blog, and to provide feedback or offer suggestions on functionality you would like to see in any of the Esri resource optimization business offerings, and for more information on all of Esri's solutions for telecommunications visit



- Esri Telecom Team


In this next Geospatially Enabling Telecom blog we'll look at a few of the Esri solutions to help your organization grow revenue.  Communication Service Providers (CSPs) are always looking for ways to increase revenues. Revenue growth starts with understanding market demand and performing sales analytics. Next, it moves into ensuring a successful customer journey by accurately qualifying a prospect and service fulfillment. Finally, it goes into retaining and upselling the customer for continued revenue streams. Esri's solutions for revenue growth can help CSPs increase revenue by leveraging spatial analytics with existing market demand and sales analysis to locate high-growth areas and upsell opportunities, while enabling presales engineers and customer sales representatives (CSRs) to qualify customers in a quarter of the time. Esri also provides geospatial tools and maps to the organization for improving customer retention.  



Market Demand

Greenfield Opportunity Analysis

Understanding market demand allows for the right product or service to be offered to the right customer at the right time. With Esri's greenfield opportunity analysis solution you can easily locate market demand with geospatial analytics and Esri's demographic data.  With a GIS based service request app, you can start to capture the location of off-net service requests to be leveraged in network planning. And ArcGIS Business Analyst is a focused app to assist in greenfield opportunity analysis that brings together analytics and demographic data. The video below shows how you can leverage off-net service requests and ArcGIS Business Analyst.


Getting Started with Greenfield Opportunity Analysis

To get started and for more information, check out the service request solution template and take a look at the capabilities ArcGIS Business Analyst can offer for market analysis.


Sales Analytics

Upsell Opportunity Analysis

Spatial analytics support sales analytics in many ways—from retail analysis to customer 360 analysis to service qualification analysis. ArcGIS offers hundreds of ready-to-use spatial analytics tools to geographically analyze customer data and qualify customers faster. Create smart maps using ArcGIS Business Analyst that allows you to set an ideal customer demographic criteria, and locate all geographic areas that meet your criteria. See how in the video below.



Getting Started with Upsell Opportunity Analysis

To get started and for more information, check out the ArcGIS Business Analyst solution.


Serviceability & High-level Estimates

Enable staff in your organization to identify an optimized network route to customer locations by configuring the Serviceability and High-level Estimates solution. Serviceability lets pre-sales engineers to specify the customer’s location and determine the shortest route or use the business influence feature to find a route with maximum business potential. After determining the best route, save the results to share with your organization. Turn around service qualification requests faster with these serviceability and high-level estimate tools.


Serviceability & High-level Estimates - Instant Qualification


Serviceability & High-level Estimates - Network Planning


Getting Started with Serviceability & High-level Estimates

To get started and for more information, check out the downloadable solution template.


Customer Retention

Customer 360 Analysis

Reducing churn and upselling customers drive revenue growth. Boost customer engagement and improve the customer journey with ArcGIS. Geographically monitor NPS and customer sentiment and better understand the demographic characteristics of your customers.  With the customer 360 analysis tools in ArcGIS, you can analyze 100s of variables in your customer 360 database to better understand which variables impact churn.  Then use those analysis results as a model to run machine learning against your current customers to get alerts of when a customer is likely to churn.



Getting Started with Customer 360 Analysis

To get started and for more information, check out AI/ML tools in ArcGIS and the Forest-based Classification tools. 


Also, be sure to re-watch the whole Revenue Growth Webinar from earlier this year to see all of the Esri solutions in action.




Resource Optimization: Optimizing Assets, People, & Processes

In the next Geospatially Enabling Telecom blog we’ll look at how telecommunication companies are optimizing their assets and field operations with digital, real-time, map based analytics and mobile apps. We'll focus on some ways our uses are reducing trips to the field with ArcGIS Field Apps. Please feel free to comment below on anything covered in this blog, and to provide feedback or offer suggestions on functionality you would like to see in any of the Esri revenue growth business offerings, and for more information on all of Esri's solutions for telecommunications visit



- Esri Telecom Team




This year’s GeoConX meetup held at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Georgia, saw the largest number of utility and telecom GIS professionals ever gathered to share their work, collaborate on new projects, and discuss new ways of leveraging GIS and location intelligence to support the telecom business.  The event kicked off with a half-day opening plenary session featuring geospatial thought leadership from Jack Dangermond, CEO of Esri, along with ArcGIS user presentations and ArcGIS technology updates.


Highlights from the plenary included a presentation from the University of Kentucky’s Eric Carroll on leveraging ArcGIS and its field capabilities to map UK's telecommunications backbone, creating a GIS fiber system of record for the entire campus. Adam Bakiera and Courtney Pesak from Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative (GVEC) shared during the plenary how they’ve created a simple, configurable, cohesive web mapping application, providing customers with the information they need about their broadband service, as well as capturing their interest, helping the cooperative better understand the customer’s needs to grow and expand their services to the community.


The opening session really set the energy for the rest of the week as there was a lot of buzz around how GIS supports fiber design and management, 5G and fixed wireless planning, and how to support the telecom business with maps and geospatial apps.  Here are a few of our favorite highlights during the week.

Telecom Peer Connects 

Connecting with peers is what GeoConX is all about. This year’s telecom peer connects session featured a panel with Gary Barden of American Tower, Derek Rieckmann of Midco, and Edward Gause of HTC. Lots of interesting Q&A and discussion around geospatial data quality and cleanup, fiber planning, service qualification, and enabling other parts of the business with maps and geospatial apps. Lots of common GIS related problems across tower providers, cable MSOs, and traditional carriers.

User Paper Sessions

Throughout the week, users of Esri’s ArcGIS shared how they are using GIS to help digitally transform their organizations to be the telecom of the future.  

  • Fiber Transport Modernization with GIS Insights - Trina Ivey, Senior Tech, Project/Program Manager for AT&T, shared how GIS solutions are being widely accepted in the telecom sector with the primary benefit being real-time accessibility and sharing of current information. Trina discussed how it’s important to consider the need to automate multiple workflows and different users (engineers, consultants, inspectors, managers, executives, and 3rd parties) who all need different tools to effectively perform their jobs. When all factors have been considered during design, the resulting GIS solution will drastically improve efficiencies for all users.
  • The IN of the Telecommunications Fiber Optic Infrastructure - Eric Carroll, Team Lead Utilities & Network GIS at University of Kentucky, showed how interior fiber optic network mapping on a geospatial platform is the way of the future. The ability to trace individual circuits, represent them in a geometric network, thus enabling analytics, maintenance scheduling and troubleshooting are powerful in their own right. Eric discussed how the University of Kentucky together with Geograph Technologies LLC, developed a method for collecting as-built information in a GIS. The solution presented combined ArcGIS for Desktop, ArcGIS for Server, the CrescentLink extension for ArcGIS, and Survey123 to showcase how data could be collected, processed and represented in a format that is logical and easy-to-use.
  • Operational Transformation with GIS - Derek Rieckmann, Director of GIS at Midco, showcased how geospatial technology continues to expand its influence on the way that MSOs operate. Through digital transformation of legacy mapping to a more spatially intelligent option, new methodologies have been implemented across the enterprise around activities like plant maintenance, extensions, and troubleshooting.  Derek highlighted that GIS is no longer just a system of record, but also becoming one of engagement and insight.  Rather than simply reading data, it is the authoritative source for many datasets.   Derek discussed the path Midco took from using GIS to record network information with very specific use cases, to an enterprise level platform with over 80% of employees directly using web delivered services.
  • GIS at American Tower: The Evolution Toward an Enterprise GIS - Gary Barden, GIS Program Manager at American Tower discussed how their GIS team is ever adapting to the changing wireless market, and how their team evolved over the years to meet the needs of customers, both internal and external.


Tech Updates & Hands-on Learning Lab

Numerous new updates to Esri technology were shown at GeoConX and following the positive feedback of the hands-on learning lab last year, the lab was brought back this year and even more Esri products were available for attendees to try out and play with, and training courses were available for attendees to work through while at the event.


New Tech Highlights:

  • Machine Learning Tools An update to the machine learning tools in ArcGIS was shared in a session that focused on spatial tools for classification, clustering, and prediction. Some of tools shown were Random Trees, Density-based Clustering, and Geographically Weighted Regression. Also, show was the integration of ArcGIS with external machine learning frameworks like TensorFlow and Scikit Learn. Image detection for detecting features in imagery, such as poles and sidewalks, gained a lot of interest from fiber planners.
  • Network Planning – During the plenary session new updates to ArcGIS Pro showcased dynamic map binning of call record and tower locations, and planning tools for fiber buildouts. The tools included optimized fiber route planning with ArcGIS Network Analyst and network tracing within the ArcGIS Utility Network Management. Re-watch the demonstration below.

  • Field Apps – The demonstrated Esri field apps showed how you can coordinate field activities using Workforce, how to efficiently get to the location of work using Navigator, how to gain spatial awareness and mark up maps using Explorer, how to accurately locate, capture and inspect assets using Collector, Survey123, and QuickCapture, and how you can improve accountability and enhance situational awareness using Tracker and Operations Dashboard.
  • Sensors, Big Data, and Analytics – Highlighted in this session was the ability to track field personnel as sensors, consuming their location with GeoEvent Server for visualization, geofencing, and storage for improved field operations and increased safety. GeoAnalytics Server was highlighted to help with the analysis of large collections of sensor data. Finally, a new Esri product in development was introduced: ArcGIS Analytics for IoT. This is a SaaS product that combines capabilities of GeoEvent Server and GeoAnalytics Server into a scalable, cloud-based product.
  • Business Analytics – New updates to ArcGIS Business Analyst were shown in a session that also highlighted greenfield opportunity analysis for broadband expansion and how to leverage Esri Demographics for upsell analysis. A crowd favorite was the improved dynamic infographics that can be configured and generated from apps across ArcGIS.

GeoConX Expo

Throughout the week, attendees had the opportunity to meet with Esri teams, including solutions engineers and product managers in the GeoConX Expo. 5G and fixed wireless planning seemed to be a top of everyone’s mind and new 3D analysis capabilities were shown at the Esri booth to assist in wireless planning.  Automating fiber design and field inspection workflows were also topics being discussed across the expo floor.





During the GeoConX Expo, Esri Partners showcased their latest solutions on top of ArcGIS for fiber, HFC, and copper network management, workflow automation, field operations, data migration, and more.






Another Fantastic GeoConX Event

This year’s GeoConX was another great meetup for GIS professionals in telecommunications, and we look forward to keeping the conversation going throughout the year, and seeing everyone at GeoConx 2020 in Denver, Colorado.  Be sure to stay engaged with the community on GeoNet, and register for the last telecommunications webinar of 2019, Resource Optimization on December 11th.

In the last Geospatially Enabling Telecom blog we discussed Network Transformation and the impact 5G will have on communications networks.  To support Network Transformation, Esri and its Partner's solutions can be categorized into 4 main business offerings; Strategic Planning Tools, Desktop & Walkout Surveys, Network Design & Asset Management, and Project Tracking & Monitoring. While, the main focus of the previous blog was around Network Design & Asset Management solutions, this blog will take a look at the other solutions in these Network Transformation offering areas.




Strategic Planning Tools

Deployment of new wireless technologies, like 5G, and improvements to existing wireless networks are causing service providers to densify both their wireless antennas and their fiber networks.  But with limited CAPEX, services providers need to be strategic in where and when they perform network densification. Esri offers spatial analytical tools and models to help understand where network transformation should occur based historical network performance, market analysis, and business requirements. These tools can run in a desktop or server environment on hundreds or millions of data points. In the video below, a few of the Strategic Planning Tools are shown, including;

  • Clustering : Identifies statistically and geographically significant cluster of features
  • Snapping : Snaps features to lines and polygons for aggregated totals
  • Spatial Aggregation/Binning : Aggregates and summarizes features to other features like hexagon polygons
  • GeoEnrichment/Spatial Join : Appends attributes from one set of features to another set of features based on location
  • Site Suitability : Locate ideal locations based on overlaying and weighting input features
  • Space/Time Prediction : View patterns and trends over geographic space and time
  • ML Image Classification : Locate features in images or imagery based on training datasets



Big Data Toolkit

A new deployment option for the Strategic Planning Tools solution that has recently gained a lot of attention from ArcGIS users is the Big Data Toolkit.  This toolkit contains core ArcGIS spatial analysis tools that can be deployed into big data environments like Hadoop, and are run through Spark jobs.  This allows analysts to bring ArcGIS spatial analysis tools directly to large datasets, distribute analysis across nodes in a cluster, and perform spatial operations without spatial indexing, drastically improving performance and speed.  



Getting Started with Strategic Planning Tools

To deploy the Strategic Planning Tools within your organization, you have 3 main options, including Big Data Toolkit, depending on the analysis workflow and size of the datasets:

  1. ArcGIS Pro and ArcPy Python spatial libraries (core ArcGIS tools typically ran within a desktop environment)
  2. GeoAnalytics Server and Spatiotemporal Data Store (big data spatial analysis, bring the data to ArcGIS)
  3. Big Data Toolkit and ArcGIS (big data spatial analysis, bring ArcGIS to the data)

For more information on Esri's Strategic Planning Tools, check out this Story Map. 


Desktop & Walkout Surveys

While complete remote engineering is what we all strive for, its not always the case, and rolling a truck for pole audits and walkout surveys is part of the engineering process. Esri offers solutions for Desktop & Walkout Surveys that can help reduce truck rolls or site visits, while improving the efficiency of field work. Some of the ways that these ArcGIS solutions can aid your engineers and automate workflows are:

Desktop Surveys 

  • Automated fiber routing and if/then scenarios

  • Wireless planning and line of sight

  • Access to basemaps and geographic content from the Living Atlas

  • Heavy desktop solution or lightweight web apps

  • Integrated street view and image detection

  • Geographic data management

Walkout Surveys 

  • Cross platform configurable mobile apps
  • Offline mobile map books
  • Editing tools and redlining
  • Location based geotagging of photos
  • Integrated with Desktop Survey apps


Demo Video: Desktop & Walkout Survey Demo from Esri UC 2019 


Getting Started with Desktop & Walkout Surveys

To get started and for more information, check out this story map: 


Project Tracking & Monitoring

With the increased number of network build outs to support Network Transformation, project tracking and monitoring is more important today than ever before.  Engineers are designing networks on top of each other and in near real-time, and sales and operations teams need to know when projects will be completed.  So in order to make timely and accurate decisions, access to underlying data in an easy to interrupt format is a business necessity. Esri's Project Tracking & Monitoring solutions allow for visualizing data on a map or dashboard to better understand activities, projects, and operations. ArcGIS integrates existing data, metrics, and operational and analytical layers in a way that produces information valued by decision makers. Ensure all of your network transformation projects stay on time and on budget.


Demo Video: Project Tracking & Monitoring Demo from Esri UC 2019



Getting Started with Project Tracking & Monitoring

To get started and for more information, check out Network Transformation at


Also, be sure to re-watch the Network Transformation Webinar from earlier this year to see all of the Esri solutions in action.




Network Transformation: Modeling Fiber - Part 1

In the next Geospatially Enabling Telecom blog we’ll expand upon the second blog of the series and further discuss the simple network management capabilities and workflows available today, and the advanced network management capabilities and workflows coming with the addition of Object Classes in the utility network and the release of the Industry Configuration for fiber.  We'll also do a deeper dive on the first preview release of the fiber asset package data model. We'll follow up the 'Modeling Fiber' blog with additional blogs on the other Esri business offerings that support network transformation.  


Please feel free to comment below on anything covered in this blog, and to provide feedback or offer suggestions on functionality you would like to see in any of the Esri network transformation business offerings, and for more information on all of Esri's solutions for telecommunications visit



- Esri Telecom Team


There are plenty of rumors, miscommunication, and marketing around 5G and the size of the network investments, the value 5G will bring to end consumers, and the timelines for service roll out. Yet one thing that is clear, 5G is coming, and service providers are investing heavily in network transformation projects to densify wireless and fiber networks.  GIS and maps are playing a larger roll in the strategic planning, remote engineering, and operational awareness of these network transformation projects, and because of this, Esri has been investing in, and evolving ArcGIS to better support the geospatial requirements within telecommunications. This blog, and subsequent ones to come, will dive into more details on the Esri business offerings and the recent enhancements to ArcGIS that can help with network transformation.


To support 5G and fiber deployments, Esri and its Partner's solutions can be categorized into 4 main business offerings; Strategic Planning Tools, Desktop & Walkout Surveys, Network Design & Asset Management, and Project Tracking & Monitoring


Since understanding the location of existing network assets (towers, cables, cabinets, etc.) is a key component to planning, designing, and constructing new communications networks, the first business offering we'll explore is network design and asset management and the different tiers of GIS network management required to perform certain workflows, as well as the deployment options available today and in the future.  We'll cover the remaining network transformation business offerings in follow-on blogs, and be sure to re-watch the Network Transformation Webinar from earlier this year to see all of the Esri solutions in action.



Network Design & Asset Management

Esri and its Partners have offered network design and asset management solutions to the telecom industry for many years, and based on the business requirements and GIS maturity of an organization, ArcGIS is typically deployed to support a range of simple network management workflows to advanced network management workflows. Some examples of these two types of workflows include:


Tier 1 - Simple Network Management

  • Basic Physical Network Inventory (PNI)
  • Field Inspections
  • Serviceability Checks
  • Network Planning

Tier 2 - Advanced Network Management

  • Detailed PNI Including Ducts, Fiber Strands, & Ports
  • Logical Network Inventory (LNI)
  • Port to Port & Ring Management: Network Traces, OTDR Reports, Physical Redundancy Planning
  • Service & Channel Management: Circuit Trace, Channel Reports, Availability
  • Detailed Engineering & Design - Web and Mobile


With the recent release of the ArcGIS Utility Network Management extension, Esri has re-engineered its network modeling framework (previous network modeling framework was the Geometric Network) which supports network design & asset management solutions, giving ArcGIS users enhanced simple network management capabilities, while offering new advanced network management capabilities at a later release. This framework allows for better network modeling, enhanced visualization / embedded analytics, and easier network sharing.  Along with the release of this ArcGIS server extension, Esri’s Solutions Team is offering downloadable Industry Configurations (asset package data models + symbology + maps) for different industry domains which will allow users, developers, and Esri Partners to start modeling networks in the utility network and extending either simple or advanced solutions off it.


Over the coming months, as Esri further enhances the utility network and develops Industry Configurations for telecom to further support telecom networks (fiber, HFC/COAX, copper, & wireless/microwave) with advanced network management capabilities, we will be releasing a series of blogs apart of the Geospatially Enabling Telecom blog series, with documentation and best practices for how to model different telecom networks and devices within the utility network. The intent of this outreach is to educate and allow our users and Esri Partners to offer feedback and guidance for the direction of the Industry Configurations and core capabilities of the utility network in support of managing telecom networks. Because every organization models, manages, and designs networks in a slightly different way, we hope that the increase in transparency and communication with our users and Esri Partners will allow Esri to crowd-source and release best of breed Industry Configurations that support simple and advanced network management.  We are already engaged with many of our users and Esri Partners for validating our methodologies, and we hope to see that increase in the months to come. 


Modeling Telecom in the Utility Network

The first utility network Industry Configuration Esri will release for telecom networks will be for fiber (PON/GPON) networks.  While this is being developed by Esri, users and Esri Partners can design and deploy their own asset package data models on top of the utility network today to take advantage of simple network management. (To learn more about deploying your own asset package data model, please refer to this link.)


The utility network at the ArcGIS Enterprise 10.7.1 and ArcGIS Pro 2.4 release supports associations, containment, and connectivity of features with a spatial geometry. This means assets with a physical geometry (drawn on the map) can be managed and maintained within the utility network at its current release.  At a future release of the utility network, a new set of asset classes called Object Classes (edge & junction) will be introduced into the utility network to support management of non-spatial features. This will allow for associations and connectivity of features maintained in the utility network without requiring a physical geometry (not-drawn on the map). The diagram below shows a high-level conceptual view of the main fiber assets aligned to the utility network tiers and asset classes of the utility network. This includes physical assets that could be managed today (simple network management) by building your own asset package data model on the utility network, and non-spatial assets that could be managed at a later release of the utility network (advanced network management), or managed today through Partner solutions and the older Geometric Network framework. 


As you can see in the diagram above, the physical location and attributes for telecom sites, structures, equipment, span, and cables can be managed in the utility network today. This would provide simple network management and allows for containment on these features.  To support many of the non-spatial assets in a fiber network, like fiber strand and ports, and to run connectivity traces, the Object Classes (non-spatial tables) will be essential additions to the utility network set of asset classes providing advanced network management.  


Getting Started with Network Design & Asset Management

For those looking to leverage ArcGIS for network design & asset management here are the options today and in the future:

For simple network management today, ArcGIS with either a geodatabase, a geodatabase + Geometric Network, or ArcGIS + Utility Network Management extension is required to store asset locations and attribution about those assets.  Simple network management will enable a base set of capabilities and workflows for your organization. For advanced network management today, ArcGIS with a geodatabase + Geometric Network is required, and typically an Esri Partner solution built on top. At a future release of the utility network, ArcGIS + Utility Network Management will bring advanced network management capabilities to the table for users and Partners to build solutions around.  Also, keep in mind that Esri Partners and the user community are key to extending both simple and advanced network management capabilities offered by ArcGIS in order to build complete network management solutions for your organization.


Here is some additional guidance depending on if you are looking to deploy simple or advanced network management:


****For access to early version previews of the Industry Configurations for telecom, including asset package data models, please refer to this discussion thread:


For more information and resources on the ArcGIS Utility Network Management extension, please refer to: 



Network Transformation: Strategic Planning, Remote Engineering, & Operational Awareness

In the next Geospatially Enabling Telecom blog we’ll look at other workflows in the Network Transformation process that surround Network Design & Asset Management. We'll highlight big data tools, fiber routing and planning tools, and dashboards for monitoring projects.


Please feel free to comment below on anything covered in this blog, and to provide feedback or offer suggestions on functionality you would like to see in any of the Esri network transformation business offerings, and for more information on all of Esri's solutions for telecommunications visit



- Esri Telecom Team


This years Esri Users Conference was another great event for GIS users in telecommunications.  One apparent observation was that the need for GIS and maps in support of telecom workflows is growing, and not only for traditional telecom service providers but for other industries that are starting to, or have been, deploying communications networks.  Because of this growing demand for GIS in telecom, the Esri Telecom Team will be releasing a series of blogs in correlation with the ongoing Telecommunications Webinar Series to explore new ways of Geospatially Enabling Telecom.  The ongoing webinar series and these blogs will look at how GIS and maps can support all aspects of the telecom business from network planning, to fulfillment, to assurance and how GIS directly impacts today's trends and driver's in the industry. The business drivers we'll focus on and explore GIS use cases within will be Network Transformation, Resource Optimization, Revenue Growth, Customer Experience, and Digital Services.



A Complete GIS for Telecommunications

In order to support the above technology trends and business drivers, GIS has needed to evolve from simple mapping software to a complete GIS platform supported by geospatial infrastructure.  This geospatial infrastructure which includes a system of record, system of engagement, and system of insights is moving into the cloud and giving organizations a web GIS, opening up geospatial web services for consumption in different OSS/BSS applications.



ArcGIS is the only Complete GIS digitally transforming telecommunications that offers geospatial infrastructure and focused business offerings designed specifically for telecommunications.  In the blogs to come we'll dive deeper into Esri's focused business offerings for telecommunications and how they support today's industry drivers along with how to get started with the solution.  Some of the offerings to look out for include:


Network Transformation (Watch Webinar)

Resource Optimization (Register for Webinar)

Revenue Growth (Watch Webinar)

Customer Experience (Watch Webinar)

Digital Services (Register for Webinar)


Network Transformation: A Strategic Investment in New Capabilities

In the next Geospatially Enabling Telecom blog we’ll discuss Esri's offerings for Network Transformation and how GIS is supporting network projects around 5G and fiber deployments. For more information on all of Esri's solutions for telecommunications visit



- Esri Telecom Team




Great new updates this month.  Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Custom login landing page.  Users can new pre-set which group, gallery, home page, or content to default to after they login.
  2. Insights for ArcGIS.  Insights for ArcGIS is now available in ArcGIS Online. Lean more here:  Insights for ArcGIS is now available in ArcGIS Online | ArcGIS Blog 
  3. Feature Editing Permissions.  New settings available for editing features in a feature service.
  4. Workforce for ArcGIS.  Information entered into a workforce assignment can now be passed into Collector and added to a feature collected. 
  5. Operations Dashboard. New web version of Operations Dashboard. Yay!


See all the updates: What’s New in ArcGIS Online (December 2017) | ArcGIS Blog 

Esri is partnering with ETI Software to show how you can improve your organizations performance with GIS powered operational intelligence. 


Improving service delivery, reducing cost and enhancing customer experience requires networks and organizations capable of operating at peak levels of performance. Many organizations don’t have an operational intelligence system capable of processing and analyzing the complex data inputs generated from their OSS/BSS. An operational intelligence system that uses GIS technology can leverage the Science of Where to transform this data into information and deliver it to key decision makers.


Take advantage of this free webinar and learn how your organization can benefit from using GIS powered operational intelligence. Register here:


Machine Learning (ML) refers to a set of data-driven algorithms and techniques that automate the prediction, classification, and clustering of data. Machine learning can play a critical role in spatial problem solving in a wide range of application areas, from image classification to spatial pattern detection to multivariate prediction.

In addition to traditional Machine Learning techniques, ArcGIS also has a subset of ML techniques that are inherently spatial. These spatial methods that incorporate some notion of geography directly into their computation can lead to deeper understanding. The spatial component often takes the form of some measure of shape, density, contiguity, spatial distribution, or proximity. Both traditional and inherently spatial machine learning can play an important role in solving spatial problems, and ArcGIS supports their use in a number of ways.

Machine learning can be computationally intensive and often involves large and complex data. Esri’s continued advancements in data storage and both parallel and distributed computing make solving problems at the intersection of ML and GIS increasingly possible. 

Learn some examples from this ArcGIS blog: Machine Learning in ArcGIS | ArcGIS Blog 


Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by PHuls-esristaff Employee Nov 24, 2017

From the Esri family to yours.  Mapping the Thanksgiving Harvest 



GIS Day 2017!

Posted by PHuls-esristaff Employee Nov 15, 2017

Happy GIS Day to all the GIS professionals in telecom & utilities.  Here are some fun resources to share with your organizations to help spread your passion for GIS.


GIS Day Resources: GIS Day November 15, 2017 - Discovering the World Through GIS 


The Science of Where: 


The Language of Spatial Analysis: 


GIS in Telecom Videos: Telecommunications - YouTube 


GIS in Utilities Videos: Electric and Gas - YouTube