mapworksharder-july22-300pxHaving discussed the limitations of digital maps, let’s look at how we can make them smarter. Maps by themselves don’t tell users everything they need to know to operate efficiently. So how do we make digital maps work harder? Embed integrated data within them.

The next generation of digital maps needs to be built on top of a database- every line, figure, label, and point is a database entry with tables and rows for every field needed by users. OSP and ISP equipment can be layered with topography, roads, utilities, census data, etc. Geographic coordinates should become a common index to access a myriad of databases.

Database and search technologies have been tightly linked, and the combination of databases and maps gives them the power of search as well. Search functions can pinpoint that one nugget of information or data needed by a user. Search can work with merged databases to present complementary information and display it all visually to users.

Reporting has been tightly integrated with databases as well. Reporting through summation and database table connections can distill valuable insight from massive data sets. It’s now possible to join multiple datasets and visually depict multi-layered, pre-configured reports with digital maps. Additionally, the disciplines of data mining and data science allow planners and executives to extract more value from their data.

The database underpinnings of digital maps allow integration with other operational systems to ensure the map is always up to date. The current situation, the past historical record, and the future planned builds are all stored in a single record. Not only are these next-generation maps a centralized source of information, they also become an exchange ushering data between systems, such as new customer equipment that needs to be turned on by provisioning or service level agreements that need to be tracked.

These data integrations really provide value when each department can suddenly customize their interface into maps. Sales reps in the field can see an open circuit, sketch new fiber runs and instantly pull from installation and EMS systems to determine when service can be turned on, and how much it will cost. Swivel-chair management and mental gymnastics are a thing of the past because the interface and map can reflect every piece of data a person needs for their tasks. Marketing sees census data for prospects located near newly laid outside plant. Repair technicians can see ticket history, equipment history, and data captured from EMS and NMS systems. These data-backed, smart maps can remove manual processes across the breadth of organizations deploying them.

Centralized record keeping, customized GUIs layered with maps or built leveraging the map index greatly increases the speed information flows in an organization. Faster speeds mean new opportunities to remove manual processes, barriers between departments, and makes lives easier.

The combination of data and mapping software into a Visual Operations System like M4 Solutions makes your maps work both harder and smarter.