Geodata at the speed of global change

San Francisco, CA captured by WorldView-3 on February 8, 2018

Often, I get sucked into helping my middle schooler with her homework. And I’ll admit that eighth grade math is even a struggle for me sometimes. But the one thing that really baffles me is that regardless of subject, there is no textbook to reference; every assignment is accessed and completed online via a school portal; all research is conducted directly over the Internet.

This is a far cry from my school days. I lugged around a good 20 pounds of hard bound textbooks as my source of knowledge. It never crossed my mind that one day they could become extinct. But as my daughter pointed out, information is changing so rapidly, “Wouldn’t a book be outdated in, like, a week?”

Fair point. I rarely ever considered the date of publication. And the same realization about the speed of information that moved schools to online studies is now starting to have profound effects on the geodata used by telecoms in network planning.

For years, the methodology has been to collect field measurements or remote sensing information, build a map or dataset from it, and keep using it until someone comes up with budget to buy an update.

The problem is that as networks advance and signal attenuations become ever more sensitive to clutter obstructions, old geodata (like old textbooks) isn’t going to be correct. Especially as we see cities such as Las Vegas, Nevada, or Dallas, Texas, seem to change on a daily basis.

SanFran_telcoblog_GIF

DigitalGlobe is looking to move the mapping world into the 21st century and become the internet of geodata. Not only is DigitalGlobe constantly collecting our changing planet, with more than 3 million square kilometers of new Earth imagery daily, but we are hosting all this valuable insight in the cloud for immediate access.

As we build out a 3D geodata map, not only are we capturing the latest and greatest high-resolution data, we are tracking exactly where changes occur and updating our geodata accordingly, so you can be confident you have the most up-to-date information when making decisions. Nobody else in the geodata world can support this kind of active update practice on a global scale.

One day in the near future, an old-school RF engineer will ask an intern to import the geodata file from the hard drive and the intern will uncomfortably laugh and say, “You mean import the data from the cloud, right?” And if the crusty RF engineer is anything like me, there will be some grumbling and maybe a “Well back in my day…” but in the end he or she will have to admit that the new way of using online geodata provides much more of an accurate representation of the market morphologies than the old packaged and dusty geodata encyclopedia of the past.

Visit DigitalGlobe at booth G404 during 5G North America to see why up-to-date geodata will be critical to 5G rollouts, and attend my panel discussion, Ensuring Simultaneous Dense Urban and Rural Deployments, at 4:20 p.m. on May 15, 2018.

Learn more about why up-to-date geodata will be critical to 5G rollouts.