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Ending the Era of Single-Use Data Collection

"Data silos" is a topic that keeps cropping up at tradeshows and in conversations with leaders in our industry.

Data silos are problematic for many reasons, but I want to focus on how they can lead to short-sighted decision-making and wasted resources.

Data Collection for Make Ready

Most of the data collection our teams perform is for pole attachment requests. We do mapping, measurement, make ready, and pole loading for utility poles that communication providers want to attach to.

Occasionally, this data gets a second life during post-construction inspections or to assist the safe design of overlapping application requests. In most cases, however, it's more of a one-and-done situation.

But this approach doesn't take full advantage of the value data offers. Data is often used to solve one issue without asking if it can address multiple priorities or pain points. So instead of harnessing data to its potential or projecting the future value of work done, teams end up gathering the same information multiple times.

Sample field photos with node information pulled up

Breaking Down the Silos

It doesn't have to be this way. Make ready photos and measurements could be re-used by different groups to provide ongoing, meaningful value:

Storm response 
Viewing the most up-to-date version of a pole can help first responders sort through who needs to be contacted and what work needs to happen.

Distribution groups
Make ready and pole attachment data can be used to view and update equipment records, or prepare for field deployment in advance.

Communication providers
Providers can look at the most recent attachment information and see if they want to compete, or maybe find a different region/route.

Second Life

Our team is working on features to prolong the useful life of the data you collect in the field. Whether it's a pole lookup page, improved online deliverables, or a way to track and improve the proficiency of your staff—we want your tools to be aligned with what makes your hard work more valuable.

In the meantime, here are a few things to consider that might affect whether or not your data collection gets a second life.

Data Transparency - Are you willing to show a bit of how the sausage is made if it creates more value for your end customer?

Data Costs - How much money are you spending to collect data that may or may not provide helpful context to your customer? (i.e. taking a photo vs mapping by hand)

Data Query-ability - How easy is it to do flexible reporting based on what you've collected? Have you given teams the ability to do more with your data than they asked for?

Data Interoperability - Does your delivery format work well with your customers' systems?

Scope Literalism - Have you tried to read between the lines to find ways to go above and beyond for your customers?

I'd like to see single-use data collection projects dwindle as software, workflows, and communication improve in our industry. I'm also excited to write more about the features we're building that address data silos in a meaningful way—at least in our small corner of the telecom/utilities space. If you have thoughts or ideas, please comment below or reach out at hello@katapultengineering.com!

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