Location Intelligence in Telecommunications

The application of Spectrum Spatial Analyst in the Telecommunications Industry

 

A complex idea can be conveyed with just a single image, making it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly. This is a benefit of viewing multiple data sets from multiple sources, in a single interactive view, using Spectrum Spatial Analyst. Pitney Bowes Software Location Intelligence platform (Spectrum™) allows Telecommunications employees from different departments access to a self-serve portal for spatial and business data.

Broadly speaking this allows employees from Sales, Marketing, Estates Management, Strategy and Network to improve collaboration by providing timely access to beneficial decision making data that resides in different teams and data silo’s. This enables Telecommunications companies to gain more value from its existing data and inter-departmental expertise. This results in the reduction in manual report generation, time savings and creates shorter time to making data driven decisions across the business. It reduces overheads associated with enterprise data warehousing buy maintaining the ability to incorporate business data, network data and customer mobile app data from Telecommunications customers app users.

Pitney Bowes Software and the ST Group have been working closely with Telecommunications companies on the African continent for over 20 years. During this time our Location Intelligence solutions have been developed to adapt to the changing needs of the business.

The aim of our mobile telco solution is to provide Telecommunication clients with a geospatial self-service reporting system. The system delivers business users the required access to up-to-date information on network performance, customer quality of experience, store performance and other relevant information such as marketing and strategy that relates to the network.

 

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Pitney Bowes Software’s Spectrum Spatial Platform combined with MapInfo Professional solves the following problems:

  • Share geospatial, network and business data across the organisation and reduce ad hoc reporting by providing a self-service web portal for spatial and business data.
  • Provides automation of time consuming geospatial and data management processes that are often completed manually.
  • Provides a mobile platform that is used in the field to view data, and is also used to capture data in the field - and upload back to the central repository.

Spectrum Platform is a COTS solution with a rapid time to value, and installation and deployment is little as a few days.

Spectrum Platform provides an out of the box platform that supports data access, web services, use of Pitney Bowes Software API’s, data management, data quality, geospatial processing, data analytics, data science, big data (natively in Hadoop), data visualisation and advanced geospatial data visualisation.

This is the basis of the Single Network View for Telecommunications Customers, and the flexibility of the platform allows for a multitude of deployment options to suite the organisations existing I.T infrastructure.

Spectrum provides Enterprise Data Integration via a user friendly connection to multiple data sources. These data sources can range from individual flat files to relational databases to Hadoop based data stores. As Spectrum connects to existing data stores, data is able to reside in its original location.

The Spectrum Management Console provides administrative capabilities across the platform and modules via an easy to use console. The management console also allows for simple management of Spectrum modules such as Geocoding and Location Intelligence. The Spectrum Management Console also provides management of SOAP and REST web services as well as workflows and jobs created using the Enterprise Designer Console. Spectrum Management Console is also used for management of user permissions, roles and groups that apply to both data sources, modules and applications giving granular control of how users access the various capabilities.

Single Network View Example 1 - Network Coverage Maps

MapInfo Pro is widely used in Telecommunication companies for spatial data editing, analysis and reporting. However, when it comes to reporting, the reports are often created using MapInfo and shared via imagery, pdf or xlxs, csv exports. For ad hoc reports this solution is certainly acceptable, however the demands for large scale up-to-date / near real-time reports can create a high volume of manual work. An example is the demand on the Network G.I.S and Mapping team to share network coverage maps with other stakeholders as soon as the coverage polygons are updated.

Often the current processes involve the creation of output maps via PDF. This is time consuming to create, it also has other constraints including not being scalable, i.e. maps cannot be zoomed, panned or navigated around, does not contain current network information, i.e. has no data attached to it, is just an image, with no signal strength value for example.

These analyses need regenerating and reproducing when a new request for a different area is required, and can create bulky email attachments, increase email traffic and chance of missed reports or mis-sent or slow reporting due to manual nature of process.

 

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The result is a reduction on the Network G.I.S and Mapping team’s efficiency and ability to focus on business focused jobs.

MapInfo Professional is designed to work seamlessly with Spectrum Spatial Analyst to address this requirement and allows for a self-service mapping portal which data and map users can connect to in order to view the latest information.

By implementing Spectrum Spatial Analyst (SSA) MapInfo Professional users are able to quickly upload maps directly from their desktop into the web map so other end users can view the data as soon as it has been generated by the GIS team. Not only can the maps be viewed but bar charts, pie charts and street imagery can be assigned to make the map data more useful to the viewer. For example, Telecommunication stores are mapped out by location, a bar chart or pie chart is used to view the associated sales revenue at that location. This is over laid with customer address locations linked to customer relationship management and also network coverage maps so that correlations between store location, customer location, customer experience and network performance in that area that are potentially impacting customer on-boarding or customer churn are identified.

This is an example and of one of the many potential applications which customers can determine on a case-by-case basis. One of the benefits (besides the analysis) is the speed at which the different datasets can be brought together in single place in order for the decision makers to view, analyse and decide next best steps.

This example uses MapInfo Pro to connect directly to data sources via ODBC/RDBMS type connections. Some business data such as that with address locations/coordinates is enabled geospatially so that it can be viewed together with network data.

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Single Network View Example 2 - Coverage Locator

The example above shows how the existing MapInfo Pro users can share data that they work with in MapInfo Pro and some business data. The next example shows how some of this workload is lifted by utilising Spectrum to connect to data sources and thus automatically enable it spatially, query it and report results.

For example, instead of a MapInfo Pro user from the Network G.I.S and Mapping team taking on new responsibilities to integrate business data such as customer addresses in to maps, Spectrum Enterprise Designer is used to create a job that automates the task of connecting to multiple datasets and creating one map as a result. This map is continually and automatically updated as the data in the data sources updates. Additionally, queries and other calculations can be run as the data passes through the flow.

Referring to the previous example of the manual mapping of stores by location - this part could be done automatically using a job in Spectrum Enterprise Designer. The store location coordinates are turned in to map locations, the data from the store sales database is connected to directly so that the sales revenue is automatically joined to the store location, and a map point with both datasets is created and displayed in the Spectrum Spatial Analyst. Depending on the configuration, bar charts or pie charts can be used to view the associated sales revenue at that location. Customer addresses are added to this map output during the workflow so that a new map with store locations, customer address locations are viewed and analysed against network coverage maps – in real-time and automatically.

This gives the same understanding of correlations between store location, customer location and network performance in areas that are potentially impacting customer on-boarding or customer churn. However, in this case the result is fully automated. This gives the GIS users the opportunity to learn new enterprise style workflows and once familiar will allow them to perform and deliver even more efficient and complex analytics and data processing.

 

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Another example is to use customer locations, store locations or any other location based asset that has coordinates and understand how the locations relates to the network coverage and performance maps created by the network team.

The enterprise designer, a module of the Spectrum platform, is used to create a workflow (through an intuitive front-end) like the workflow below. In this example:

  • Either addresses or coordinates are read from a file or database.
  • They are then located in a map.
  • These locations are automatically checked against the RF coverage map.
  • The results of whether or not that location has coverage are reported back to a file, database or map in Spectrum Spatial.

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Single Network View Example 3 - Mobile

Another application is availing mobile workers with a tool that allows them to be in the field and have access to a location tool that provides the ability to view existing network and business data in the field, inclusive of taking photos at a location and uploading them back to the central location data repository.

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Examples of users include network field engineers, enterprise and customer sales team, site inspection teams, and also the estate management team.

Site feasibility analyses are completed at a customers premises by technicians, the GPS location is determined by the mobile device, and reports about if and to what extent services are available at the location are automatically generated on the mobile device. Find-the-nearest calculations (e.g. distance to nearest pop or manhole) are automatically measured, fibre and duct availability is determined against the FTTX network data, and subsequently quotations are produced in real-time. Photos of the site inspection are captured and included as part of the feasibility report.

Estate management can visit potential store locations, take photos and add notes about the location. Once new information in the form or images or text have been uploaded, then that information is available for the office-based teams to view and respond too.

This method provides time savings and also makes it easier for the field user across the enterprise to collect and store data safely with less chance of data loss in the field.

 

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Single Network View Example 4 - Ease-of-use

Spectrum Spatial Analyst provides the ability to display hotspot maps that are made in MapInfo Pro or generate hotspot maps from a list of coordinates in a spreadsheet. These points are read directly in to SSA via the web browser and a hotspot map is created.

The emphasis here is on ease of use - the end user does not need to specify complicated parameters but merely choose hotspot map and it is automatically generated. SSA also has the ability to create hotspot maps from very large datasets, very quickly.

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Spectrum Spatial Analyst provides a solution that:

  • Allows users to share existing geospatial and business data quickly and easily through a web mapping environment, that has low time to value and is user friendly.
  • Does not disrupt existing systems (rather works harmoniously with existing systems)
  • Does not require heavy development services to be integrate
  • Does not require embedding into existing applications
  • Utilises existing data from these existing applications.
  • Is out of the box and deploy easily within the existing software and I.T infrastructure.
  • Delivers and identifies potential, insight and value to business users with minimal training requirements

 

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