Communication networks are continually evolving and as these complex networks converge, planners and engineers require the right tools to plan and design networks as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Fig.1 NextGen Network Management.
These planning and engineering teams require tools to:
    1) Strategically plan the deployment rollout,
    2) Optimise the design of a network, no matter the network technology or architecture, 
    3) Streamline the design through automation, 
    4) Track and manage all the network designs supporting fibre densification and 5G build out, and 
    5) Easily share designs and relevant documents to the wider organisation including the field teams.
A complete Geographical Information System (GIS) delivers solutions for all these requirements, and Esri’s ArcGIS platform is the only complete GIS designed with the telecommunications industry in mind. 
The Complete GIS Platform
ArcGIS is a  geo-spatial and analytical platform. It is a system of record for maintaining the assets such as ducts and poles. It is also a system of insight, revealing hidden patterns and relationships, which is critical for rapid decision making. Finally, it is a system of engagement, allowing collaboration across the business, keeping people informed of situations in real-time.
For telecoms organisations, Esri has recently launched the ArcGIS Utility Network, a product which enhances these existing capabilities even more. It plays a role in the system of record, insight, and engagement. Esri designed the Utility Network to support the challenges faced by the industry knowing that telecoms networks are becoming increasingly more complex. The Utility Network substantially increases the precision and completeness of network modelling, while providing additional visualisation and analytics. It also delivers the immediacy of access which modern workforces have come to expect because of the rise of social media in their personal lives, providing enhanced communication, collaboration, and coordination.
ArcGIS Utility Network Is a Step Change in Network Management
What benefits does ArcGIS Utility Network provide?
    1. A Comprehensive Framework – The Utility Network is a comprehensive framework for modelling utility assets and networks. This simplifies the integration of corporate operational systems. It also provides a quantum leap in network representation in 2D and 3D which closely represents assets as they appear on the ground.
    2. Intelligent Modelling – The software combines business rules and logic to maintain an accurate geospatial representation of assets and networks. Therefore, this ensures quality data is entered first time. 
    3. Spatial Context – The software offers spatial information, including a transaction model and editing tools, exposed as REST services. These services deliver network functions to any device, anytime and anywhere.
    4. Flexible Configuration – The software provides the most flexibility ever available to telecom users with the creation, editing, managing, analysis, visualisation, and sharing of network information through intuitive, user-focused maps and apps.
    5. Secure Access – The ArcGIS Utility Network Service provides secure access to content and system capabilities, ensuring that key stakeholders have access only to the content and information appropriate to their role. 
Fig. 2 The Utility Network – Capabilities. 
Capabilities of the Utility Network include:
    1. Structure network  
Structures such as duct banks, conduits, trenches and poles are modelled completely. As in real networks, structure networks can be shared by multiple domain networks. Now telecom and utility networks that share common structures, such as poles can model that real-world configuration within the Utility Network.
    2. Domain networks 
Users can even create their own specialised network models, therefore, developing an automated solution in line with their requirements and workflow.
    3. Diagrams 
Schematic representations of networks for planning and outage management. These representations are automatically created.
    4. Tracking of design projects and their phases 
From planning through to as-built, projects can be fully tracked. This is a powerful capability to avoid the worst-case scenario that can otherwise happen when two designs are created in the same location, duplicating effort.  
Fig.3 Utility Network – Network Modelling
      5. High-Level Design
ArcGIS uses location technology to hone engineering work and provides an all-inclusive view of the network and its surroundings.  Bringing the field to the engineer with remote engineering tools such as street level imagery and access to planning datasets. Therefore, engineers can understand the many environmental and man-made obstacles impacting their work.
Fig 4. Utility Network web application – High level design with integrated street view.
Compelling analytics and robust tracing actions highlight valuable insights to better understand network capacity and automate network routes. Whether its FTTP or backhaul, engineers can input their design rules and rely on ArcGIS to complete the heavy lifting of returning a high-level design that is ready for design verification.
6. Detailed Engineering
The robust rule engine and framework within ArcGIS allows engineers to set up the design criteria and make changes with ease. Import architecture rules and equipment templates and lock down changes to allow for consistent network designs. As a web services platform, ArcGIS allows engineers to design from anywhere using a web or mobile app, or a traditional desktop client. 
Fig 5. Utility Network Desktop client software mapping connectivity.
Along with traditional map views, schematic views are built into ArcGIS. Engineers need to evaluate detailed design considerations. To do so, they use schematics derived from the same solid data foundation stored in the GIS. As designs are completed and ready for permitting and construction, specific equipment details exist in the context of broad, location-based information. Reliable data reinforces tools to determine material and labour estimates based on actual field conditions and generating an accurate BOM is quick and easy.
Summary – The Complete GIS
Most telecommunications organisations already use GIS in some capacity. Yet how they use it is changing. ArcGIS is a complete GIS, meaning that it contains all the elements needed to meet planning and engineering challenges, not just to make conventional maps.
ArcGIS supports real-world modelling, including rich visualisation and analytics. Immediate coordination and collaboration are enabled through mobile apps and web browsers. Key information for critical design work is maintained. This enables comprehensive business intelligence reporting that uncovers hidden meaning and can be shared securely with stakeholders.
These capabilities unite all the phases of planning and engineering. They combine asset details with network performance. With location as the centrepiece, a complete design picture helps improve key performance indicators and business results. 
ArcGIS brings value to every organisation’s engineering, design, and construction teams. Those teams need the best technology to improve their processes and empower employees and contractors. Much of their work relies on the notion of where. The ArcGIS platform, including the Utility Network, modernises network management and lays a solid foundation for the future.
For more information regarding ArcGIS Platform or Esri’s new Utility Network capability, please contact Richard Stevenson, Telecoms Commercial Lead at Esri UK at
Esri are exhibiting at this year’s Connected Britain