Using next-gen geodata for advanced network planning

Back when I was in my late teens–a time I now think of as “the dark ages”–the idea that every teenager would one day own a cell phone would have been incomprehensible. Cell phones were only seen in the back of limos, or on the ears of Gordon Gecko-esque Wall Street types. If I wanted to know what my buddies were up to, I would simply drive from friend’s house to friend’s house until I found one who was home. Sounds funny now, but it sure seemed efficient at the time.

Me checking on my friends ‘Status’ back in the 90s

Of course, today’s cell phone-equipped kids all know if their friends are around before they drive halfway across town. This same concept of ‘know before you go’ applies to microwave backhaul planners. Back when I was driving door to door and mobile networks were smaller, microwave engineers lived in their own “dark ages.” To plan a network, they’d get a map of locations available for hanging their antennas and draw up an optimized network based on the most direct routes. The installers would then head out to these locations and check to see if the sights had any obstructions to lines of sight like trees, building or even hills and mountains between the two antennas. If they got there and found an obstruction, they went back to the office and drew up a new set of connections that could work around the obstruction, then went back out into the field to see if these new connections proved to be clear. This process of planning, checking and re-planning continued until the network was built out.

We’ve recently seen an exponential increase in the amount of data that needs to be moved around networks these days–mostly due to today’s media-obsessed teens (and maybe a few adults). The old method of trial-and-error field validation is no longer practical or cost effective. Today’s network engineers need detailed and accurate 3D geodata that shows all the terrain features, as well as buildings and trees in a digital surface model (DSM) format. This lets them plan microwave connections in a virtual Desk Plan with confidence that the links they plan will have good connectivity–because the lifelike geodata says so. With good geodata, a microwave engineer can greatly reduce (or even eliminate) the need for the antenna installers to drive across town… only to find that a link doesn’t work.

Is this link clear? Accurate DSM lets you virtually see the path before you hang hardware.

DigitalGlobe’s detailed DSMs are an excellent solution for these detailed and accurate geodata needs. These multilook photogrammatic DSMs are highly accurate and available for entire countries–meaning you get detailed heights of buildings and trees in dense urban settings AND the same level of detail and accuracy extending to traditionally under-represented suburban and rural markets. All at a much lower price point than similar technologies or 3D polygon datasets.

Click here to learn more about DigitalGlobe’s next-gen geodata for network planning. No driving around town required.