3 Important Tips: Your GIS and Storm Response

January 19, 2017

Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Floods. When a natural disaster strikes, service providers are often right behind emergency workers on the ground, trying to restore power, phones and other telecommunication necessities.

By far, one of the most challenging times for a service provider (SP) is during the hours and days of an extreme storm, tornado, hurricane or any inclement weather.  Often with these extreme conditions comes unforeseen service outages, leaving customers without communication in the most crucial time of need. It also calls into question the reaction processes of your team to resolve issues in a crisis.  For the SP, a proper storm response strategy and reaction plan can save valuable account of time, effort and dollars.
What you may not realize is that part or all of a comprehensive solution for proper storm response may already exist within your software infrastructure. An integration between your OSS/BSS platform and your GIS platform can display all valuable data representing network status at the subscriber premises.

And while the telecom industry produces more and more technologically advanced and stable network equipment, when an outage occurs, the price tag can rise into the millions of dollars. It is imperative to all SPs to have a plan of action in place when a natural disaster strikes. Here are three tips to help you obtain situational alertness during a storm event:

  1. Be Aware
    As the old adage says, a picture is worth 1,000 words.  Telecom professionals may still believe that GIS is a static network map only for engineers… but nothing could be further from the truth.  You won’t be able to glean necessary, decision-making info from a flat file reporting system during a storm/outage incident.  It is much more effective to integrate your GIS platform, your work force management and trouble-ticketing system, network alarms and basic subscriber information into one interface.
  2. Plan Remotely
    Once all the information is available to you in a real-time map then you can plan remotely in times of crisis.  Traditionally, it is has been the process of telecoms to dispatch “windshield” crews to survey damage in the field.  This can be a rare occurrence when using your GIS system correctly.  A GIS disaster and storm response strategy will allow you to avoid premature, dangerous and costly actions.
  3. Act Precisely
    Once you’ve created a remote plan, you can streamline dispatch for resolution and repair for network problems.  GIS visibility into your entire footprint will help speed up recovery services to get everything restored.  Knowing the exact location of the outages allows you to direct crews proactively to the prioritized and damaged areas.  Your GIS should also divide and prioritize SLAs properly.  Doing “ride outs” can be a rare situation if you are using a real-time GIS monitoring system correctly.  Make sure you tag different types of damage to specific equipment so that you can manage and prioritize your SLAs.
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