TDS Telecom’s Taylor McMaster started as an intern with the company in January of 2014. In a short time Taylor, along with nine of his coworkers, have already had a big impact.
According to TDS Telecom Manager of Network Infrastructure and Outside Plant, Michael Ritchie, the team of interns was created to transfer land parcel data to the company’s new Geographic Information System or GIS from its older, and less reliable, Computer Aided Design or CAD system. Mike says, “Our CAD system has limited capabilities for analytics and it may not be 100 percent spatially accurate.”
The new Geographic Information System will help Ritchie and others in several ways. They’ll be able to more accurately identify potential customers before a network expansion. Also, they’ll be able to see if TDS is missing out on any potential customers right now. Finally, they’ll be able to get a better idea of where the company’s equipment is out in the field in relation to customer homes or businesses. “As our services become more distance sensitive that becomes even more critical,” says Mike.
At first it appeared a lot of the data to complete the project needed to be entered into the new system manually. The task was expected to take three years. Using some existing technology and crowd sourced data from the web the team was able to automate a big part of the process. As a result they saved the company money and time. “We’re probably looking at 2 1/2 years at the longest to complete this,” according to Mike.
Taylor, now a full-time network specialist with TDS, says the extra six months will give the team time to focus on developing more uses for Geographic Information System data and work on completing conversions for any ILEC or cable TV acquisitions.
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