Google Earth for Fiber Mapping: Blessing or Curse?

Google Earth Fiber MappingIs Google Earth for Fiber Mapping a blessing or curse? Over the past 15 years of doing GIS business in telco we have seen a major shift off of desktop GIS tools and onto Google Earth. Google bought and launched the Google Earth platform we all now know in 2005, leveraging technology and the Keyhole Markup Language (KML) originally created by Keyhole (fun fact, a CIA funded startup). It became wildly popular for a number of reasons – it’s easy, it’s loaded with imagery and data, it’s fun, it’s gorgeous, it’s flexible, and it’s free!!

But is it great for laying out fiber networks? Well, yes to a point. Works fine for drawing digital mapped sketches and measuring distances. Handy for cruising a route in streetview looking at utility poles and drops. It’s a quick tool and it works. But the GIS guy in me cringes every time an ISP says they’ll send over their network map KMZ file. Why? Because Google Earth is notoriously unstructured. It isn’t a GIS and it doesn’t ride on a database. The same flexibility that makes it so quick and easy to use is also its Achilles heel. No two fiber design engineers will organize the mapping in the same way. Colors and styles as opposed to attributes are often used to signify important feature characteristics. Endless folders are used to organize projects and plans. And the order to the map chaos often resides in exactly one person’s head.

In fact, more often than not, we will be sent the wrong KMZ data. Happens all the time. Oh did you get “network.kmz”? Meant to send you “mynetwork.kmz”. Oh no sorry wait I should’ve sent “mynewnetwork_june_bob.kmz”. That’s the nature of a fast changing unmanaged network mapping file resource. Versions abound.

This is all good for a while perhaps. But sooner or later everyone needs a database. For networks it’s got to be a geospatial one because it’s all about the map. And centrally managing your network mapping and exposing it to all who need it is what we are all about with VETRO FiberMap™.

We respect Google Earth – and of course we love to fly around in it. And we understand that all of the mapping that may be laid out already must be leveraged, whether it is a KMZ, a GIS file, a relational database, or a CAD drawing. So we built import and export tools for you, including KMZs. Best of both worlds.

We also know you are probably trying to track circuits in a spreadsheet if your mapping is in Google Earth. That’s OK, but we feel your pain there too. If you’re looking for more information on how to migrate your circuit data into our platform, maintain and manage it… Contact Us Today.

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