Connected Nation Projects: A Perspective from our GIS Services Division

Bowling Green, KY. (September 25, 2019) – At Connected Nation, our GIS Services division is working on many projects across the country that are key to closing the Digital Divide and getting people the benefits of broadband in our increasingly connected society. Some of these are specific to state and local programs while others are internal and will will assist in our mission to increase broadband access, adoption and use. GIS, or Geographic Information Systems, plays a critical role in this mission. A few of our current projects are highlighted below:

Connected Nation Ohio (CN Ohio) – As CN Ohio works on objectives in broadband mapping, business and residential surveys, and local technology planning, GIS resources are being deployed in multiple ways. One emphasis is on processing, formatting, and mapping provider service area boundaries as we are in the midst of our statewide provider data outreach and collection process. In conjunction with our Engineering and Technical Services (ETS) team, we’re working with each provider to acquire the most granular spatial and attribute data—that we are able—for input into our GIS for later analysis and mapping efforts. Often this requires back and forth communication between CN and the provider multiple times to allow for GIS to get the data in a useable and accurate state to derive meaningful statistics and develop mapping products. Inadequate or inaccurate data will only lead to end products that lack the utility they should for end users, whether that is the decision makers that can bring about broadband or the resident looking to acquire it.

Another focus of our attention is preparation on the mapping product side of GIS. We will be creating new and improved static and dynamic interactive maps in addition to various analyses. Therefore, critical to the development is the examination, processing, and formatting of non-broadband datasets, which is well underway, and at the same time, thinking about various cartographic design elements to bring that data into the fold. Attention is also being placed on thinking about what layout- specific map adjustments can be implemented. Mapping technology has improved significantly over the years, and we are taking advantage of that. It will be seen on both the static and dynamic fronts.

Connected Nation Texas (CN Texas) – With the project having just started in June, CN Texas and the GIS department are in the initial stages of fulfilling program objectives. Provider outreach and data processing is underway, and this process will continue into November given the size of the state and the number of broadband providers. In addition, as with CN Ohio, innovating on the mapping front for program deliverables will be a top priority as we head into 2020.

Minnesota’s Office of Broadband Development (OBD) – Our work continues with OBD in relation to the Border-to-Border broadband development grant program. We continue to create grant application vs. grant build-out maps to assist OBD in closing out projects, in addition to preparing for further verification field work with the latest trip occurring in mid-September. This field verification work is an important process in the program, which has been greatly decreasing underserved and unserved areas in the state since 2014, and the program is still continuing today. Data and trip planning has largely been completed by GIS and our ETS teams. ArcGIS Online, the Collector app, and various other tools are of great assistance in this effort. Results from the verification trip will go into data and map updates at the end of October.

ArcGIS Enterprise Amazon Web Services Cloud Implementation – The GIS Services division has also been using the latest cloud deployment tools to deploy and upgrade to the latest ArcGIS Enterprise product line to go along with our prior organizational move to the cloud environment for other elements. This will allow us to stay up-to-date and make use of the latest technology offerings, whether it is from the GIS industry or Amazon Web Services. There are a number of tools that exist today that were not available in the past that simplify deployment and upgrades.

The above are just a sample of the projects our GIS Services department is currently involved in, but we also provide a multitude of other technical services here at Connected Nation.

About the Author: Brian Dudek is the Senior GIS Analyst at Connected Nation. Brian uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping technology to create static and dynamic, interactive maps, through the analysis of demographic, economic, and broadband data.

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