The following two-part blog was contributed by Tom Vick, Director of Engineering at Pioneer Communications. Pioneer Communications has been a Mapcom Systems customer for four years. In part one of this series, Tom discusses the company’s struggle to find a vendor to meet the day-to-day needs of Pioneer Communications’ operations in regard to RUS Unit tabulation.
Electronic maps have been around for many years. The ability to electronically draw and maintain paperless records of outside plant has been available to the industry for, generally, more than 35 years.
In about 1996, our mapping vendor (at that time) migrated to a GIS solution, and decided to use Oracle for the database piece of the software. This allowed the team to maintain more accurate OSP records, especially as to where facilities were actually located in the real world. While moving to a GIS solution was good, we were still unable to establish an easy or efficient method to tabulate all RUS-type units in the Oracle database, based on the tables being used at that time. There was no impetus, on the part of the vendor, to provide any solution to this issue (among other issues, such as interconnection to our billing software). To be fair, there was no impetus internally, here at Pioneer, to migrate to a construction sheet or unit tabulation process within the mapping software. We were able to draw construction sheets, but not being able to tabulate the units caused us to maintain the process of manually drawing the sheets, and having a separate process for tabulating the units.
Any RUS borrower, or former borrower, understands the complexity of staking and tabulating RUS-type Unit Designations. Our method of tabulating in Access included a table called Units, where we maintained every possible RUS Unit Designation, so that we had some reasonable amount of validation when tabulating units for a given project (the unit designation we entered in the Project Tabulation table had to exist in the Units table). We recently evaluated our Access table called Units and found that we had 1,900 records in that table. Many of these records had to do with dual facilities (i.e., [BFC25-24 & BFO24]D, etc.), and we modified our tabulation of D type construction units, such that we were able to eliminate these dual Unit Designations, getting us down to around 1,800 records in this Units table. That still left a lot of Unit Designations to maintain. Many of these were BM -type units, PM-type units, W-type units and XX -type units, etc., and there will always be a need to express and tabulate those types of Units, using RUS Unit Designations.
To read more on the solution to Pioneer Communications’ dilemma, come back for part two of Tom’s blog next week.