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44 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | MARCH/APRIL 2016 TECHNOLOGY Mapping and Effcient Outage Response Responding to outages is an urgent priority for any communications provider. To do the job right, a good digital mapping system is a necessity. By Rachel Harrison / Mapcom Systems W hen I was 18, I was on a training mission learning how to navigate terrain in the Army. On the frst day, the drill sergeant broke the group into three-person teams, gave us grid points to fnd and handed a map to each of us. As we attempted to plot the frst point, we quickly realized we had each been given a diferent map. At frst we suspected the sergeant was having a laugh at our expense, but upon further investigation, we found our maps represented the same geographic area with diferent features on each. My map showed man-made structures such as towers and roads. One of my buddies' maps showed elevations such as mountains, valleys and clifs. Finally, the last member of our team held a map that depicted all water and woodland features. Certain that the three maps together gave us enough information to navigate, we set of for the frst point. Many hours and arguments later, we had navigated to only four points out of a 15-point list. As nightfall came, our drill sergeant fnally collected us, highly entertained by our failure. We, however, were not so amused. Cold, hungry and demoralized, we glared at one another on the way back to our campsite. Te next day, we were hauled to the same site, but this time we were each given a map with all the features represented. Once we shared the same source of information, we became an efcient team and navigated together as one unit rather than as three individuals. Unlike the frst day, we mapped each point and made it to the end; more important, we didn't miss lunch this time. GETTING ON THE SAME PAGE For communications providers, digital mapping software provides the same advantages as the Army map with all features displayed. It not only displays all possible features for maximum accuracy but also acts as a single guide for each team member to work from. Cohesion and efciency signifcantly improve when all parties have access to the same view. A unifed view is especially critical for a communications provider. Many organizations fall victim to geographic and departmental separations among key employees. Tis problem is never more evident than when a company faces an urgent situation, such as a major outage. Whether an outage is caused by an accident, an operator error or a natural disaster, the objective is exactly the same: restore services as quickly as possible. An outage can require responses from employees throughout a company, starting with the central ofce and then involving inside and outside engineering, the network operations center and fnally the outside-plant technicians who must rebuild any lost connectivity. Digital mapping software proves its value during these high-stress scenarios. Te ideal solution is a connected system that integrates with the existing OSS and BSS to ensure