Construction ride out and FTTx deployments

3-GIS often times finds itself providing both consulting and implementation services to support construction rideout (CRO) activities.  Interestingly, many of our customers approach these activities using different workflows and processes to yield essentially the same result.  3-GIS outlines the methodologies to consider if you are interested in developing a FTTH deployment strategy. 

For whatever reason design firms and providers approach CRO in a multitude of ways.  Some of our customers perform an initial windshield survey of the potential network path and then augment with field personnel collected detailed information while others perform an initial desktop survey and then field the network design as appropriate.  in addition, the data collected varies as well.  Some of our customers collect information only related to the “constructability” of the network path while others go to such detail as defining the exact location of spliceclosures and cabinets while in the field.  Even though a detailed description and justification for each of the methodologies mentioned above, while in of itself would provide for interesting whitepaper, 3-GIS is going to focus on high level considerations of a successful collection. 

Prior to any CRO collection activities it is incumbent upon the designer to define the critical collection criteria. Critical collection criteria is any data element required to support planning, design, permitting and construction.  These criteria may not be self evident at the outset of a project and in order to define properly, a deep dive into the expected output is required.  Expected output can be anything from reporting to construction drawings to permitting.  More often than not, permit and construction requirements drive the data elements required and may include generating plan and profiles, locating all existing utilities and coincidence with environmentally sensitive areas to name a few.  In addition, construction requirements may include items such as the necessity to identify constraints to construction such as access for installation and maintenance, offset from existing infrastructure and location of “long-lead” permit requirements such as railroad crossings, etc.  

By no means is the list above meant to be exhaustive, which further highlights the necessity to document both what to collect and how to perform CRO related activities.  While many of the above may be understood by the design engineer and their field technicians, to properly document CRO it is necessary to perform a deep dive analysis in jurisdictional requirements for permitting while also soliciting input from your construction vendor.  The results of this analysis should provide a framework for what to collect during CRO.

Once the data elements have been defined, consideration should be made to define how to collect each of them.  Design engineers will often times canvas an entire market prior to design and collect all of the data elements required.  While exhaustive, this often times leads to expending resources which were not required as the network design ultimately does not impact 100% of a market.  Ultimately, CRO should be performed after an initial routing and placement of network assets has been performed. This pathing may be at a high level initially if the design engineer has adopted a conventional design approach or may be more detailed if the design engineer has opted for an automated design approach.  Either way, CRO should focus only on areas where design is likely to occur.  By doing so, design engineers will reduce cost exposure to the customer while also reducing the time to construction.

Once the CRO items to collect and the collection methodology is defined, consideration as to the type of scope of technology for collection should be made.  Questions arise such as to whether to collect using a “pen and paper” approach or whether mobile data collection platforms can be used?  Often times, design engineers tend to fall back on what has worked in the past and resort to a more conventional approach of collecting field notes using paper maps and notebooks to create redlines.  While this approach certainly has its advantages, the disadvantages should also be considered.  The requirement to translate the field notes into intelligible design decisions adds another layer of execution and administration that may not be required.  Leveraging technology allows users to directly notate field decisions and transfer that knowledge the designer in either real-time or near to real-time.  Design engineers can also consider allowing their field personnel to directly edit a design rather than providing field notes.  While a significant departure from the past, this technique offers the most efficient use of resources both in the field and office.  Great care should be taken to identify whether one trust the field technician to make a decision or does it simply need to be reviewed by those in the office.  Arguably, more often than not the desktop technician is simply going to accept the field determination. 

As firms approach CRO and defining both what to collect and the method of collection great care should be taken in order to determine what is expected from the effort.  This exercise will provide a basis for success while also limiting the effort to what is necessary versus what is nice to have.  As our customers face more demanding timelines to deliver designs, enabling CRO with technology will allow for more improved collection methods while reducing overall resources required to either satisfy fielding or incorporate their findings into final design.  3-GIS is working with our existing and new customers to provide the tools necessary to reduce dependency on historical processes to satisfy CRO whether in the field using 3-GIS Mobile platform or integrating as-found conditions using 3-GIS Web.

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