Shared communications infrastructure titan Crown Castle had a data standardization problem.
Unchecked, the problem threatened the company’s mission to expand broadband internet’s reach to the American people, including the nearly 30 million living in US areas whose existing infrastructure provides only minimally acceptable connection speeds.
Across the country, Crown Castle fielders and appointed contractors were diligently collecting field data along the company’s network of approximately 85,000 route miles of fiber-supporting small cells and fiber solutions.
The challenge stemmed from the fact that many of these field teams’ collection methods varied depending on their region of operation.
Some used traditional methods to collect data such as a Hasting Stick with a pen and paper. Others used a laser rangefinder with a digital tablet to document findings. Still, others used different means altogether that were specific to a given region.
In essence, the regions were working independently with each covering a part of the whole for Crown Castle, an ever-expanding organization whose footprint had grown significantly in the previous years through merger and acquisition, which contributed to the siloed and patchwork nature of the company’s field data collection.
Different regions were producing different formats of field data. There was no standardization from one region to the next, which presented a major problem for a nationally-minded company that sought to map its assets across the country in its geographic information system (GIS).
Crown Castle turned to ikeGPS for a standardization solution and found one with the IKE Device and IKE Office Pro software.
Introducing the IKE Device as the primary data collection tool in the field solved Crown Castle’s standardization problem.
Instead of each region employing different methods of data collection, they’re now using the IKE Device which combines GPS, a laser rangefinder, calibrated imagery, and a user-friendly app all packaged in a field-ready (i.e. rugged) device that can upload data directly to the cloud.
The IKE Device is engineered in a way that requires just a single user, eliminating the need for two-person teams, and promoting efficiency in the field.
Because the data is captured and recorded in the IKE Device, there is no need for pen or paper or any other method of documentation that may be prone to natural human error, creating a need for recollection.
Additionally, the IKE Device promotes enhanced safety in the field since fielders no longer have to cover large swaths of territory while lugging heavy and cumbersome equipment such as a 50-foot Hasting Stick. (As a former fielder, I can attest to the fielder’s desire to stay as lean as possible over the course of a long workday when situational awareness is critical to safety and can be compromised by fatigue.)
While the IKE Device standardized Crown Castle’s collected field data, IKE’s Office Pro software served as the cloud-based hub that facilitated data analysis and ultimately allowed the data to be exported into the company’s GIS.
With IKE Office Pro, Crown Castle’s data analysts were able to:
Perhaps most importantly for Crown Castle, IKE Office Pro allowed for the analyzed data to be exported to their internal GIS, which helped the company to maintain accurate records of its vast network of assets across the country.
While IKE Office Pro is known for its ability to export data seamlessly into most GIS systems, Crown Castle’s GIS integration proved to be a little more complex yet nonetheless successful.
That’s because Crown Castle’s talented development team was able to build on top of IKE’s existing application programming interface (API) to create a customized path for data to be ingested into their GIS.
“We’ve been so impressed with IKE’s Device and Office Pro Software, we’ve mandated that all of our engineering service providers use IKE tools if they contract with Crown Castle.”
Supervisor of Field Operations, Maintenance, and Inspections; Crown Castle
In the four years since becoming an ikeGPS customer, Crown Castle has taken IKE’s technology and software and transformed the way it conducts field data collection and analysis. Already one of the most respected organizations in the communication space, Crown Castle has scaled its broadband expansion and field operations to new levels of success.
The achievement of both data standardization and workflow efficiency using the IKE Device and Office Pro has led Crown Castle to mandate that any engineering service provider that contracts with Crown Castle for field data collection and/or analysis must use IKE’s products as a condition of their contract.
“With the ability to access all of the data collected by the IKE Device,” said Saad Khalid, Crown Castle’s Supervisor of Field Operations, Maintenance, and Inspections, “IKE’s Office Pro software allows us to manage our contractors more efficiently and ensures that projects are completed to our satisfaction.
“We believe that ikeGPS has played a crucial role in helping Crown Castle achieve our business goals by empowering us to streamline our fielding and engineering operations, increase our efficiency, and ultimately provide better service to our customers.”
Spencer Hankin is a Senior GIS Manager for ikeGPS. He has worked closely with CrownCastle, talking to them daily to provide help and guidance as they implement the IKE Device and Office Pro into their operational backbone.
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