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Application Note

RFTS Integration into an Existing GIS Database

By Pierre Talbot, B. Eng., and Benoît Masson, Eng., RFTS Product Manager, Portable and Monitoring Division

A significant amount of information can be graphically displayed through the use of state-of-the-art
geographic information systems (GIS). Incorporating a GIS will allow you to manage your nework at a
glance as it provides extremely accurate mapping data, which includes the global positioning system
(GPS) coordinates of network infrastructures as well as the mapping of your RTUs, cables, fibers, alarm
display and statistics.

An RFTS should always be designed with an open architecture, flexible enough to be easily integrated
and synchronized with an existing OSS coupled with a geomatic database. A bridge can, therefore, be
created between the RFTS and the GIS-based OSS allowing modifications on the main OSS. These
modifications are automatically reflected in the RFTS without any manual configuration.

One of the requirements of RFTS technology is the ability to integrate and synchronize the RFTS’
geographic information system database directly into the network operator’s GIS database. The network
operator’s GIS database includes two distinct databases. The first one is for cable management; the
network operator knows where the cable begins and ends, in addition to which splice boxes and patch
panels the cables are connected to. The second one includes a physical map; the network operator
physically positions different elements of his network such as cables, manholes, points-of-presence
(POPs), central offices, optical splices, optical amplifiers and add-drop multiplexers. This map includes
street names, buildings, rivers, lakes, etc.; that is, any infrastructure facilitating the physical positioning
of the various elements. From the RFTS, the user can only access the network operator’s GIS database in
read-only mode. This prevents any modification of existing values and allows all of the GIS data to be
accessed from the RFTS. We access the physical positioning of the cable as well as the map from the
network operator’s GIS. We also identify fiber paths in order to see the alarms on the RFTS’s GIS.

Network Operator's GIS


Cable Mgt Map GIS Application


Fiber, Path, Map

Cable Mgt

Figure 1. GIS integration
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A common problem when integrating the RFTS into the network operator’s existing GIS database is
when the two databases do not have compatible data formats. In such cases, the RFTS has to convert
(transform) the data from the network operator’s GIS into a format that is compatible with the RFTS’
format. This can be done in one of two ways: either we convert the data to read the architecture of the
data format or we convert the database into the format already used by the RFTS’ GIS.

Transformation Using the Architecture of the Data

Firmware solutions such as Geographic Data Objects (GDO) from Geomedia of Intergraph can read the
architecture of the data format and display the data without any transformation. For example, if a
network operator has a GIS database in ArcView, the ArcView GDO can directly view and query the data
(see Figure 2).

ArcView Read-only GDO RFTS


GDO ArcView
Network GDO MapInfo
Operator's GIS

Figure 2. Data transformation using GDO

This type of transformation prevents the data from being corrupted because we use the data architecture
to do the transformation. Furthermore, any modification to the network operator’s GIS automatically
reflects on the RFTS’ GIS.

Transformation into a Format Compatible with the RFTS Database

Another procedure used to transform data is converting it from the network operator’s GIS into a format
that is compatible with the RFTS’ GIS database. In our previous example, the network operator’s GIS is
in ArcView format and the RFTS’ GIS is in Geomedia format. In the following example (see Figure 3),
the network operator’s GIS is in ArcView format and the RFTS’ GIS is in MapInfo format. As in the
former example, we can access the network operator’s database in read-only mode, except now, we use
spatial data translation software—Feature Manipulation Engine (FME)—to transform the data format
from ArcView into MapInfo (used on the RFTS’s GIS).
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ArcView Read-only FME 73 RFTS


Network RFTS GIS

Operator's GIS

Figure 3. Data transformation using FME

This type of transformation has one drawback; it may corrupt the data since we are no longer integrating
the architecture of the data. Furthermore, any changes made to the network operator’s GIS must be
translated into MapInfo format before the information is displayed on the RFTS GIS database. Even
though the transformation is done quickly, the need to continuously update the GIS database remains a
tedious task.

Data transformation has a significant impact on RFTS GIS database integration. Before choosing an
RFTS, make sure you understand the type of transformation you will obtain in order to avoid unpleasant
surprises. The GIS database integration is important to physically position the location of a break. But
how you establish the correlation between the optical distance of a fault and its physical distance is
another significant factor.

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