Leveraging GIS for environmental sustainability: Reducing impacts and costs

Businesses globally are striving to reduce their ecological footprint and optimize resources, and telecom network operators are no exception.1 However, in today’s rapidly changing landscape, it can be especially difficult to deploy optimal networks in a timely manner that also account for varying environmental factors including avoiding hazards, protecting biodiversity, and minimizing impact. By integrating geographic information systems (GIS) into their processes, telcos can make more informed decisions by synthesizing and visualizing complex data in a spatial context.


How can GIS be used to create more informed maps?

Starting with a base map of an area, users can add “layers” of data that function as transparent sheets providing details of the area, such as topography, census data, telecom service coverage, etc. Stacking these layers helps give further insight into a specific area. For example, one layer might show property boundaries, while another might show areas that are susceptible to erosion. These layers help users visualize complex data in an accessible format, aiding in decision-making.

GIS layers can be static or dynamic, depending on their purpose. Static layers relay foundational information like infrastructure maps and soil sample data. Dynamic layers can incorporate real-time information, helping leverage data like population density and weather forecasts. A static layer of soil sample data can help avoid critical habitats and prevent future repair costs, while a dynamic layer of endangered species or unstable land can inform companies to avoid sensitive areas, steer clear of migration routes, and proactively reduce potential ecological disruptions—ensuring networks are deployed in a manner that is both environmentally conscious and cost-effective.


How can GIS data be used to optimize network routing?

Existing network data is a key component in optimizing resource allocation and reducing waste. Coupled with geospatial analysis, this data can help network operators visualize and identify optimal routes for cables, reducing the need for excessive trenching that might cause ecosystem destruction.

Moreover, maintaining data on current network utilization and availability assists in crafting smarter, more sustainable routes that maximize the use of an existing network. Network operators can identify both high-demand and underserved areas and optimize expansion paths. Additionally, by avoiding high-risk zones, unnecessary environmental damage can be prevented, saving both time and resources.


How can GIS help find cost-saving opportunities?

GIS further enables industries to proactively predict and conduct efficient maintenance or repairs. Through proactive identification of maintenance needs, field operations can be streamlined to reduce travel and consumption. As such, GIS synthesizes important data that helps to reduce truck rolls and more strategically deploy resources, leading to more cost-efficient operations.


How can GIS help reduce overall impact?

At all decision-making levels, GIS assists teams in taking informed action that creates more sustainable and efficient fiber networks. Through optimized resource allocation, reduced environmental disturbances, and streamlined operations, GIS empowers telcos to achieve their connectivity goals while minimizing their ecological footprint.

Incorporating a GIS-based network asset management system, such as 3-GIS | Web, can radically improve efficiency by integrating previously disparate information into a single, easily navigable system that helps teams visualize and strategically act with the most pertinent information available.

By leveraging GIS technology, environmental preservation can be prioritized, valuable resources can be conserved, and robust fiber networks can be intellectually constructed to meet growing connectivity demands.

1Partington, Angela. “Environmental Issues in Telecoms.” Capacity Media, March 10, 2022. https://www.capacitymedia.com/article/29ot4oe12l25efyhle328/top-story/environmental-issues-in-telecoms.

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