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Esri Community Manager

Intended for database administrators as recommendations for establishing the product workspaces in an Enterprise Geodatabase (Oracle®, SQL Server®, PostgreSQL®).


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Esri Community Manager

Mapping & Charting Solutions (MCS) Enterprise Databases Best Practices

Intended for database administrators as recommendations for establishing the product workspaces in an Enterprise Geodatabase (Oracle®, SQL Server®, PostgreSQL®).


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Esri Regular Contributor
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Esri Contributor

Esri is back as a member of the TM Forum! We are interested in understanding more about how our telecommunications community is leveraging the standards and frameworks that TM Forum offers. The goal is to look for opportunities for collaboration between the TM forum and Esri.


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Esri Regular Contributor

Looking to add project costing analysis and job tracking to the Communications Data Management for ArcGIS Online solution? Check out this blog to see how you can add cost analysis to your deployed Communications Data Management solution.


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Esri Regular Contributor

By now, its pretty well known that the 5G technology and the spectrum frequencies being used to deliver on the promises of better wireless speeds and latency will require lots of small cells.  The amount of infrastructure being deployed to deliver 5G far exceeds previous wireless technologies, and therefore the amount of CAPEX being invested is far greater than ever before. So wireless carriers need to be more strategic in where they deploy 5G in order to get the highest ROI.  And this is where GIS can help. So in this blog I'll outline a few GIS based spatial analysis tools that can be used to optimize the locations and placement of cell sites in order to get the highest return with the least amount of CAPEX spent.

Suitability Modeler

A suitability model is used to determine the best location to site things or areas to preserve, like locating the best locations to place cell sites.  The new Suitability Modeler in ArcGIS enables you to create a suitability model in an intuitive, integrated framework. The following image illustrates the sample suitability model workflow for cell site suitability:

A sample suitability modeling for cell sites is shown.

Since determining the ideal locations for a cell site can be based on multiple factors and different criteria, suitability analysis allows you to look at existing network statistics or call records as well as demographics, and weight them accordingly to come up with the best areas that address all of these variables.  The Suitability Modeler through ArcGIS Pro offers an easy to use transformation pane to reclassify and transform your input datasets, along with charts to see the distribution of your data.

The results of the suitability analysis provide you with areas that are highly suitable.  This suitability map can be used to locate structures within highly suitable areas for small cell deployment, and can also be used to optimize the location allocation of cell sites, which we'll discuss later in this blog.

Closest Facility

A second big driver of cell site placement is proximity to existing OSP facilities.  Traditional calculations of nearest fiber cable or network access point relied of straight line crow flies distance.  This straight line distance doesn't accurately reflect the potential path of a fiber backhaul.  The Closest Facility tool in ArcGIS allows you to calculate the street distance which more accurately represents the route a fiber cable will take.

With the Closest Facility tool, quickly locate the nearest network access points to all the potential cell site locations to calculate distance and potential cost to serve that site. 

Location Allocation

From all the candidate structure locations for a cell site that are near network access points, and that fall within our highly suitable areas, how do we then optimize which sites to build in order to cover the most area with the fewest number of cell sites? The Location Allocation tool within ArcGIS chooses the best location or locations from a set of input candidates, by assigning demand points to input candidates in a way that allocates the most demand to candidates and minimizes overall distance. This tool can be used to ensure new retail stores cover a certain market share or to evenly space out fire departments to ensure 4 min response times.  This tool can also be used to optimize the selection of cell site candidates to ensure maximum coverage with the fewest number of sites.

In the example graphic below, we've converted our high suitability areas to points which will become the demand points in the Location Allocation tool. This means we want to reach the demand points with the highest suitability score using the fewest number of cell sites within a specific radius of our sites.

Since the the Location Allocation tool leverages a Network Dataset to calculate distance to demand points and distance between facility candidates or cell sites, we create a generic mesh network for use in the tool, shown in the graphic below.

Finally, we run the Location Allocation tool using the potential cell site locations at input facilities, the suitability points as the demand points, and our mesh network as the Network Dataset.  We can also use the distance each potential cell site location is from the nearest network access point as a weight to influence the final chosen cell sites.  The suitability score of our demand points is also being used as a weight to influence the final selection. And lastly, we set a distance threshold of 100 meters for a potential cell site to reach a given demand point, which is used in lieu of a RF predicted coverage area.  The graphic below shows the final selection of cell sites and the top scored sites in the table.

Using the the 3 ArcGIS spatial analysis tools just discussed we are able to locate areas of high suitability for cell sites. Then, from a list of potential cell site structures within those suitable areas we optimized the selection of sites based on proximity to nearest network access point and greatest coverage of the suitability demand points with fewest number of sites.  Please feel free to comment or reach out to us with any questions, feedback, or ideas for improving this workflow. 


- Esri Telecom Team


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Esri Regular Contributor

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 😎 : 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

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Esri Regular Contributor

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


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Esri Contributor

I live in an area of the US likely to experience severe weather in the springtime.  Most residents here have a plan of action in the event a tornado warning is issued for their area.  We charge our devices and power banks, keep important documents in a waterproof container, and put fresh batteries in our flashlights.  Many rely on public storm shelters or have a family member, friend, or neighbor nice enough to make room for us in their shelter.  But the COVID-19 pandemic has changed what was once considered acceptable.  Storm shelters were not built to allow occupants to stay six feet apart.  The pandemic is forcing everyone to re-evaluate their plans and consider risks in a way we didn’t have to think about in previous storm seasons.

How do you plan for an emergency when you’re in the midst of a totally different emergency?

Telecom companies are in the same predicament, but the stakes have never been higher.   Communication services are more important than ever, with vast numbers of people working and learning from home.  It’s also clear that severe weather events won’t stop simply because we are busy dealing with a pandemic.  Whether you are preparing for tornados, hurricanes, floods, or wildfires, COVID-19 is changing the landscape.  What was once considered reasonable may not necessarily be the best plan to keep customers, employees, or contractors safe anymore. 

What’s important is that your business is weighing those risks and making a plan for what you’ll do to prepare before an event, how you’ll respond during the event, and how you’ll safely restore the network and customers after the event.  Yogi Berra may have said it best: “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”  Fortunately for us, as GIS professionals, we know that GIS is one of the best tools we have at our disposal to design and carry out these plans.

Dashboards assist with operational awareness before, during, and after emergency situations.

Before a typical storm season, telecom companies organized maps and dashboards to help them best prepare for a storm event.  Perhaps they mapped historical hurricane or tornado tracks and compared them to their own service territories and network locations to identify locations with a higher probability of damage.  At Esri, we’ve worked with HR departments to map employee home locations so that when storm paths became available, they instantly knew how the storm might affect employees and their families.  Telecoms stage equipment and field technicians strategically so that once the event is over, recovery can begin more quickly.

While these ideas are all still valuable, COVID-19 adds levels of complexity.  Telecoms must also now consider the health of their own employees or outside contractors.  Local and state rules will vary from place to place, and they must take that into consideration.  Adding maps of COVID-19 infections and testing centers must be considered.  Entering a customer’s home to restore service is no longer a risk many are willing to take, both for the safety of the customer and the employee.  We’ve heard of telecom companies curating a map of company-owned facilities available for restroom breaks and making that available to their field technicians.

Once the event is over, telecom companies want to assess the damage so they can begin prioritizing work for restoration.  Systems that rely on paper forms or multiple calls between the field technician and dispatch will unnecessarily delay the critical nature of that work.  Also, companies that relied on technicians working in teams or groups will have to re-assess risks.  Some companies are using employee personal vehicles so that staff can maintain social distance while traveling to work locations.  Companies are also staggering work start times so that the number of employees congregating at specific locations can be minimized.   Technologies such as AVL (automatic vehicle location) work wonderfully to keep employees safe when the employee is in the vehicle but aren’t as helpful when staff are outside their trucks or using their own car.  Many telecom organizations are looking to mobile apps (such as Tracker for ArcGIS) to ensure social distancing during work hours is maintained.  It can also be a creative way to reimburse mileage for use of those personal vehicles.

Ensure social distancing is practiced at work locations.

Throughout this blog post, I mentioned many maps and data sources, as well as suggestions on how to use them to make data-driven decisions.  Here are a few links:

What’s your organization’s plan for Emergency Inception (an emergency within an emergency)?  Share your ideas in the comments or reach out to us at if you’d like some help.

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Esri Contributor

How is your Telecom managing business continuity for network operations and maintenance?


The telecom industry is renowned for being fast paced.  This speed of change is being fueled by the rapid enhancements in technology.  This technology capability is underpinning an organization’s ability to achieve digital transformation. But has technology outpaced legacy business processes and our ability to adapt to this change?


Almost every organization’s ability to adapt to change and maintain business continuity is being challenged in ways we never thought possible.  This time last week, if we were describing the challenges that a modern Telecom was facing, we would have been talking about things like 5G, or one of the other enabling technologies to achieve some level of digital transformation.  But today, like many industries, Telecoms are adjusting to the impacts of Covid-19 and looking for solutions that keep their employees connected, manage disparate data, and optimize their remote network operations and maintenance. Overnight, the way we do business has changed, and it is forcing many to rapidly pivot to support this sudden shift in operating models. 


Telecoms need a connected digital operating model. It is this sudden shift in operating models that quickly brings to light constraints or roadblocks in legacy processes that are not digital. Any legacy process of workflow that is not digital or connected breaks the flow of information. It adds significant delays to updating systems.  It limits decision making. Telecoms deal with very large datasets at a much higher velocity. It is more important than ever to enable and support a complete digital operating model. A digital operating model is more than just digitization. It creates a connected and optimized digital relationship between people, processes and technology.


Everything that happens in Telecom happens somewhere. Telecoms are relying on location technology to Integrate OSS/BSS information systems, gain Real Time Situation awareness and Optimize Resources and Network Operations.



OSS/BSS Integration

Telecoms have many critical information systems that are often not related or natively integrated.  To create a digital operating model, Telecoms need to connect and integrate between their Operations Support System(OSS) and Business Support System(BSS).  Esri provides advanced capabilities for maintaining network operations and the business around which that network is built.  Integration with location brings together key data sets from Customer Relationship Management, Billing and Sales systems. With all the location information within telecommunications, a geospatial platform can integrate OSS and BSS with a common set of maps and geospatial tools. It is through this integration that users can create a single operational view and gain insight across the organization.


Real-time Situational Awareness


A common requirement in a modern Telecom is access to timely information to make more informed business decision.  Latency caused through legacy processes or paper solutions have restricted Telecoms to modernize their operating model. ArcGIS allows users to configure real-time network operation views through web-based dashboards, analyze network capacity using location analytics, and provide restoration times to your customers through outage viewer maps.  Information is integrated and shared across the organization as it is captured, eliminating back log and creating new business opportunities.


Resource & Network Optimization


As Telecoms adapt to new digital operating models, they will endeavor to look for innovative ways to optimize their resources and better understand how their network is operating.  Industry experts have long said that optimization can only be achieved once you have all the information available.  This means breaking down organizational silos while creating connected systems and information transparency. ArcGIS provides the platform to create a digital operating model to improve business processes. To reduce costs, you need to improve the utilization of your network assets and people. With location technology users can maximize network resources with tools like network suitability analysis for new wireless or fixed line service planning. To save time and costs users can also optimize field technicians with mobile apps showing network, service territories, job details and customer details.


Esri’s ArcGIS can help telecom organizations and communication service providers (CSPs) optimize their digital operating model using location intelligence and GIS technology. ArcGIS solutions provides a platform for digitizing workflows and processes using the most advanced location technology on the market.  Telecoms can take advantage of an advanced digital network model, geospatial visualization and analytics, and multiple mobile apps that leverage an open and interoperable complete GIS.  

Through the power of location technologies, Telecoms are able to navigate quickly beyond legacy processes to achieve digital transformation.

To Find out more visit GIS for Telecommunications I Network Operations & Maintenance 

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