Major cities are deploying traffic signals on fiber networks to improve communication speeds and reliability, allowing for real-time data transmission between traffic management centers and signals. This enhanced connectivity enables better traffic flow control, timely adjustments to signal timing based on changing traffic patterns, and quicker responses to emergencies or incidents. Unfortunately, cities are also facing significant challenges due to vandalism, resulting in widespread outages and disruptions to critical services.
In Norwalk, CT, one such incident occurred where vandals cut fiber cables while trying to steal copper, leading to an extensive outage in the area. The impact of such actions goes beyond just disrupting internet services; it directly affects traffic signal operations, creating serious safety risks for motorists and pedestrians.
Across the country, Departments of Transportation and city officials are grappling with increasing incidents of vandalism affecting the reliability and efficiency of their traffic signals and ultimately impacting their budgets. In addition to the costly materials to make repairs, DOTs need to understand what signals are impacted by the vandalism, which could take a long time without a proper system in place. “The major problem is identifying where the incidents are, then ensuring they are qualified, tracked, and resolved. Today, just identifying the location can take an immense amount of time!” says Lance McGee, VETRO’s Head of Product. A major metropolitan city’s DOT, for example, had to consult five traffic engineers to try to figure out the location of the damaged infrastructure on network maps that were “piecemeal nightmares.” Plus, this DOT has a hub and spoke network, a mix of copper and fiber, that connects intersections throughout the city. The network is for the DOT department only, not its government buildings.
“For a long time, they had been looking for something to model their system because anyone who needed to do work on the network or fix problems had to have a better way to keep track of their assets, especially on a system that had a combination of fiber and legacy copper,” said a DOT spokesperson. “And if someone was out sick or was on vacation, nobody had any clue where anything was located. That’s where VETRO’s platform came to the rescue.”
VETRO provides the only cloud-native fiber management platform that is built to plan, design, document, and operationalize a network. The DOT engineers had gotten to the point where they knew they had to move away from ‘it’s-all-in-our-heads thinking’ and creating maps manually, to digitizing their infrastructure assets in order to have an accurate system of record.
The DOT had been looking for a long time for something that would model the system because they needed a methodology for collaboration—one where they could easily model and create a visual representation of the entire network, which includes 640 miles of fiber, remote cabinets, a centralized control center, and about 40 remote hubs. That’s why they chose VETRO FiberMap.
Rachel Karvia, a VETRO account executive, said that VETRO’s platform is gaining traction because the software is cloud-native and based on an intuitive fiber management system, which digitizes all of the physical assets. “This provides an invaluable system of record for network operators, so they know exactly where each fiber strand is located,” she explained. “And with our open platform, VETRO allows multiple people to access the network data simultaneously. It eliminates poor documentation, and they can track changes and update in real-time.”
In today’s world, effective and efficient infrastructure management is absolutely crucial for utilities and municipalities. Yet too often, these entities still rely on outdated methods of keeping track of their assets. “Let’s face it, when some managers hear about fiber management, they think about fiber for the home (FFTH). They never consider the important role it plays for municipalities or utilities, namely connecting critical infrastructure and managing assets, so they can basically keep the power on and the trains running on time, let alone make sure the traffic lights are working.”
The DOT spokesperson added that using VETRO has the benefit of significantly reducing the time required to fix line breaks. Instead of expending countless hours and resources searching for a break, an employee can be sent out to take an optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) reading and then relay the information back to the main office. VETRO allows for the near-exact geolocation of the break. This feature is especially useful for swiftly identifying the problem’s precise location, resulting in quicker repairs and restoration of normal operations.
According to Karvia, what also sets VETRO apart is its user-friendly interface and elegant design. The DOT had looked at other systems but found that VETRO was the most intuitive and easy to use. They were able to easily visualize both their fiber and copper cable.
VETRO is also helping with the DOT’s long-range planning. “When capital expenditures come along, you want to be able to have a premade plan for expanding the network,” said the DOT spokesperson. “Plus, it also helps us with operational deployment, field maintenance, and the dispatching of staff.”
But it’s not just the DOTs that can benefit from using VETRO software. County government can, too. In one Missouri County, for example, there are eight IT directors for eight different technology departments who will all be using VETRO to manage their fiber assets and fiber expansion in one living document—their entire system of record.
“We’re building out to the wastewater treatment facility, and now all the digital assets are in one place, making it easy for us to collaborate across the entire county,” says an IS Director from the county. “We have about 200 government buildings as well as traffic signals and other infrastructure to manage. VETRO is helping us manage all of it from a single source of truth.”
“The bottom line is that VETRO is a valuable tool for utilities and municipalities that want to manage their infrastructure assets more effectively and efficiently,” notes Jim Freeze, VETRO’s CCO. “It allows them to create a living document that models their networks and makes collaboration with others easy.”
With VETRO, you can have all of your fiber assets in one place, saving time, resources, and costs. So, while it’s prudent to give a lot of thought to your network, you have to get that thinking out of your head and into VETRO software so the job gets done in the best way possible.