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5 Ways GIS is transforming Network Planning and Design, that you didn’t know about

10 December 2023
Melanie Gomersall

Trusted by:

Telecom Egypt
BC Hydro


National Grid
Open Fiber
TPX Communications
Ella Link
Red Iris
Surf Net

Telecom GIS (Geographic Information Systems) has revolutionized network planning and design in the telecommunications industry by providing powerful tools for spatial analysis, data visualization, and decision-making. There are many known ways that GIS has accomplished this, but there are also some fascinating lesser-known ways that GIS in Telecoms is also transforming network planning and design. In this article we’ll explore both. Let’s start off with recapping the one’s that we know:

5 Existing ways in which Telecom GIS is transforming network planning:

  1. Site Selection and Planning:
    • Spatial Analysis for Optimal Site Placement: GIS enables telecom operators to perform detailed spatial analysis to identify optimal locations for cell towers, base stations, and other network infrastructure. Factors such as population density, terrain, and existing infrastructure can be analyzed to determine the most effective site locations for coverage and capacity.
    • 3D Modeling for Line-of-Sight Analysis: GIS allows for the creation of 3D models that help in line-of-sight analysis. This is crucial for planning the placement of antennas and towers to ensure unobstructed communication paths, especially in urban environments with complex topography.
  2. Network Capacity Planning:
    • Data Visualization for Network Optimization: GIS tools enable the visualization of network traffic, capacity, and performance metrics on a geographic map. This helps telecom planners identify areas with high demand, optimize network resources, and plan for capacity upgrades where needed.
    • Predictive Modeling for Future Demands: Telecom GIS facilitates predictive modeling by analyzing historical data and predicting future network demands. This aids in proactive planning for capacity expansion, ensuring that the network can handle anticipated increases in data traffic and new technologies.
  3. Fiber Optic Network Planning:
    • Routing and Path Analysis: GIS is instrumental in planning and managing fiber optic networks. It assists in determining the most efficient and cost-effective routes for laying fiber cables by considering factors such as distance, terrain, and existing infrastructure.
    • Asset Management and Maintenance: GIS helps in tracking the location and condition of fiber optic cables. This enhances maintenance efforts by providing real-time information on the status of network assets, reducing downtime, and improving overall reliability.
  4. Disaster Response and Resilience:
    • Risk Assessment and Mitigation: GIS is used for assessing risks associated with natural disasters and other emergencies. By mapping areas prone to disasters, telecom operators can proactively plan for network resilience and implement measures to minimize service disruptions.
    • Real-Time Incident Mapping: During disasters, GIS enables real-time mapping of affected areas and network outages. This information is crucial for coordinating emergency response efforts, prioritizing repairs, and restoring connectivity in a timely manner.
  5. Regulatory Compliance and Community Engagement:
    • Compliance Mapping: GIS helps telecom operators comply with regulatory requirements by mapping and documenting the locations of network infrastructure, such as towers and antennas. This information is essential for demonstrating adherence to zoning regulations and environmental standards.
    • Community Impact Assessment: GIS supports community engagement by providing a visual representation of planned network changes. This helps telecom operators communicate with local communities, address concerns, and make informed decisions that consider both technical and community-related aspects.

5 Lesser known ways in which Telecom GIS is transforming network planning:

  1. Wildlife Impact Assessment for Network Projects:
    GIS technology can be used to assess the impact of network infrastructure projects on local wildlife and ecosystems. By overlaying habitat maps with proposed network layouts, planners can identify areas where infrastructure might disrupt wildlife corridors or sensitive habitats, enabling them to adjust designs to minimize ecological impact.
    Example: A telecom company is planning to erect new cell towers in a rural area. Using GIS, they overlay the proposed tower locations with maps showing local wildlife migration routes and nesting areas. The analysis reveals that two proposed sites would disrupt a bird migration corridor. As a result, the company relocates these towers to more suitable areas, minimizing the impact on the local avian population.
  2. Historical Data Analysis for Predictive Maintenance:
    Network maintenance can be optimized using GIS to analyze historical data. By mapping past incidents and maintenance activities, network planners can identify patterns and predict future failures or issues. This predictive maintenance approach helps in proactively addressing potential problems, reducing downtime and costs.
    Example: An electricity provider uses GIS to map the locations and dates of all power outages and maintenance work over the past decade. By analyzing this data, they identify a pattern of frequent failures in a particular neighborhood. This insight leads them to investigate and upgrade the aging infrastructure in that area, preventing future outages.
  3. Augmented Reality (AR) Integration for Field Technicians:
    Incorporating GIS with AR technology offers field technicians real-time, spatial information overlaid on their physical environment. For instance, when a technician is on-site, AR can display underground cables, network nodes, and other infrastructure components through their device, improving accuracy and safety during installations or repairs.
    Example: During the installation of fiber optic cables in a densely populated urban area, field technicians use AR glasses integrated with GIS data. As they navigate the streets, the AR glasses display the exact locations of existing underground utilities, helping them avoid accidentally damaging water pipes or electrical lines during the installation process.
  4. Cultural and Heritage Site Preservation:
    When expanding network infrastructure in areas with cultural or historical significance, GIS can be instrumental in preserving these sites. Planners can use GIS to map out cultural landmarks and design network layouts that avoid or minimally impact these areas, ensuring that development does not lead to the loss of heritage sites.
    Example: A city is expanding its Wi-Fi network but wants to ensure that new access points do not disturb historical landmarks. Using GIS, the planners map all registered heritage sites in the city and design the network to place access points away from these areas. They also use this data to optimize signal coverage without physically impacting any of the cultural sites.
  5. Urban Heat Island Effect Mitigation:
    GIS technology can assist in understanding and mitigating the urban heat island effect, which is crucial for the longevity and efficiency of network infrastructure. By analyzing spatial data on vegetation, land use, and urban structures, network planners can identify hotspots and strategize on infrastructure placement and cooling solutions to enhance sustainability and reduce heat-related inefficiencies.
    Example: A city observes that its outdoor Wi-Fi routers are overheating in certain areas, leading to service interruptions. Planners use GIS to map areas with high temperatures and low greenery, identifying these as urban heat islands. They then strategically plant trees and install shading around routers in these areas to reduce overheating, improving service reliability and reducing energy consumption.

Each of these applications and examples illustrates how GIS can be applied innovatively in network planning and design to address specific challenges, ranging from environmental concerns to technological enhancements.

Telecom GIS Network Planning and Design with VC4

VC4-IMS is a complete, off-the-shelf, configurable, intelligent inventory management system. It brings logical, physical, virtual, and service elements together at one glance. One of the 10 Modules within IMS is the GIS Module. It provides a complete geographical view of your networks, enabling accurate planning and operations. This is a key component for GIS Engineers who need an overall view of the network but also need GIS functionalities for planning and design. The GIS module can also provide:

  • Clear geographical view of all network assets
  • GIS functions to plan and operate fiber and copper networks
  • Direct relationship physical to logical connections and services
  • Plotting and control of all connectivity types, color coded for convenience
  • Creation of sites, expand views, and measure distances
  • Drawing of new connection paths and align with geo data
  • Managing network changes from a single interface
  1. Why is GIS considered a crucial component for network planners and service providers?

GIS provides a detailed knowledge of each network asset’s location, performance, and spatial context. This information is essential for network planning, service design, and delivery. GIS enhances the overall understanding of network assets and their real-time status, contributing to effective decision-making.

  1. What sets VC4-IMS apart as a leading example of Network Inventory Management platforms?

VC4-IMS stands out due to its rigorous process of discovering, collecting, normalizing, and reconciling raw data from relevant entities within the network. The platform’s GIS Module provides a unified view of both physical and logical resources, offering operators a critical understanding of network assets.

  1. Where can I learn more about the integration of VC4-IMS and GIS functionality?

To delve deeper into the symbiotic relationship between VC4-IMS and GIS, we recommend downloading our Whitepaper: GIS for Managing Telecom Networks. This useful GIS resource provides in-depth insights into what GIS is, how GIS works, what GIS can be used for and it’s importance in Network Planning and Design and it’s long term benefit in Network Management. But if you would like to chat to VC4 directly, then get in touch with us via the Contact Form.

gis-whitepaper VC4