Katapult Engineering 2019 Review
Updated: Mar 20
As we start the beginning of a new year, we want to take a minute and reflect on some of the exciting events that took place over the past 12 months. As usual, this year seemed to fly by! In case you missed it, here's a quick recap of some of the major things that happened this year.
1. Launch of Katapult Pro v3.0 and Katapult Pro Training
On January 1st of last year, our software development team pushed Katapult Pro's biggest update yet, featuring a new design and user interface alongside new features and performance improvements. Additionally, we published a series of 18 videos walking users through each step of the Katapult method.
2. Onboarding New Clients
In the first quarter of 2019, we on-boarded seven new teams varying in size and scope of projects. Some of the new teams were embarking on their first aerial OSP projects, and others had decades of experience in distribution design, electrical make ready, and third-party attachments. When possible, our engineering staff was utilized to train and equip these new teams. Due to their extensive experience managing projects from start to finish in the Katapult Pro platform, these staff members helped new clients get a leg up and become proficient in the system in just a few focused training days.
3. System-Wide Distribution Audit in New England
In February, we were awarded a contract to photo document distribution poles using Katapult Pro in the New England region. A slightly different workflow is used for these large scale audits, but this project helps to develop new features in the Katapult Pro platform. Because of the weekly volumes of photos taken and the multitude of locations those photos are associated to, the workflow has been the perfect testing ground for new features that assist automatic photo association—a tool used in almost every other workflow. The biggest feature that was developed out of necessity for this audit was Katapult Pro Offline Mode for mobile devices.
4. Fiber Hyper-Builds
In the past, our engineering team has performed surveys and basic engineering services for third-party attachment requests for our local power company, PPL. Last year, we started performing the necessary make ready engineering and loading analysis for each application. Historically, the annual volumes have stayed right around 8,000 poles, or 152 poles a week. This year, several major fiber builds increased this number of poles by nearly 3X. Due to FCC pole attachment timelines, it was critical to improve efficiency and find ways to increase our throughput with our current resources. In an effort to ensure our team members' job security, we avoided staffing up temporarily only to introduce layoffs after the project was completed. Instead, we relied on our existing engineering staff and had exceptional help from a strong summer intern class. From a software perspective, these increased volumes resulted in the development of highly-specific complex attributes that dynamically improve the data stored in Katapult Pro to better export to deliverables, such as our comprehensive make ready report. A great example of this new type of attribute can be found in our CU Entry Tool, which runs as a small program in Katapult Pro but is stored as an attribute for smooth exporting.
5. Lots of Interns!
This summer, we had more than 15 interns augmenting various business units at Katapult Engineering and Katapult Makerspace. These talented students from a wide variety of majors got chances to learn about and work on many different projects over the summer. A small intern team managed a local OSP engineering project full-stack, while others assisted in data collection and processing as a part of larger teams within the company. Of this group, five have accepted full-time positions. Two of these five have already joined our engineering team, and the others will join the software development and makerspace teams in the spring!
6. Katapult Pro Version 3.1
In October, we pushed a few major updates to Katapult Pro that were developed in the first nine months of the year. The most notable feature pushed was Offline Mode, which allows field crews to continue editing the design and placing time buckets in areas with poor/no cell reception. Other tweaks included improved Make Ready features and photo uploads, as well as the ability to undo a time bucket and center map on GPS—both of which are helpful for field crews.
7. Future Focus
During the last few months of 2019, we started to focus on our goals for 2020 and the items that we wanted to hit hard early in the first quarter. As we discussed in a previous article, the first goal for 2020 was to push more robust offline deliverables such as our Photo Form and new Map Prints. In future articles, I'll start to dive more into these new features, as well as the next major direction for the Katapult Pro platform. Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading! Questions or comments? Call us at (717) 432-0716 or send us an email at email@example.com