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Summer 2003
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Quality Management Based on Geodata

T-Mobile Deutschland Uses GIS for Network Management

By Peter Feuerborn and Dr. Ralph Heider, PRO DV Software AG

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The ergonomically designed Q-GIS screen with three visualized inquiry results.

Just a few years ago, wireless phones were as rare as cars were in 1910. Now it seems that everyone, from soccer moms to CEOs and from schoolchildren to senior citizens, has a wireless phone. Some people speculate that someday mobile phones will be our only phones.

The more people use wireless phones, the more intensely the people who operate mobile phone networks compete with each other. Given equal technological quality, the companies that compete the most successfully are the companies that provide the best customer service. T-Mobile, a Deutsche Telekom AG subsidiary, is using GIS technology to integrate its spatial database management systems and to help its customer service representatives provide customers with quick and accurate answers to their service questions.

T-Mobile is part of Deutsche Telekom AG's rapidly expanding empire of telecommunications services. Although currently Europe's number one telecommunications carrier, Deutsche Telekom AG, along with its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, never stops looking for ways to improve its products and services. T-Mobile's Service Centers, located throughout Germany, employ more than 4,000 customer service representatives.

Monitoring the T-D1 Network

In the telecommunications industry, high demands are made on both the quality and optimum efficiency of mobile radiotelephone networks. At the same time, geodata is gaining recognition by providing the basis for meaningful analysis in the industry. For internal target groups—such as alarm management and marketing—and for external users who need information on network provisions, tariff models, etc., an Internet-based spatial information system with dynamically generated maps is considered a precision tool.

At T-Mobile, the quality and performance of the components of the company's important T-D1 radiotelephone antenna network are subjected to constant monitoring to guarantee the best possible functionality. To maintain this quality monitoring, the Department of Area-Related Data and Analysis at T-Mobile understood that an Internet/Intranet system would provide the best, most efficient, and optimum results.

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Personalized legend definition.

To this end, the department sought a partner who could help provide the right solution. After extensive effort, the department chose Esri Geoinformatik GmbH Business Partner PRO DV Software AG of Dortmund, Germany. PRO DV Software then conceived and developed the system that is used in T-Mobile's Intranet. The system is based on a geodata server using Esri technology. The server's data and functions are integrated into different specialized applications, thereby increasing the ability of each application to make meaningful statements.

Part of the system is an application called Q-GIS—based on the geodata server. It helps analyze the qualitative situation of the T-D1 network on the basis of virtually any number of definable spatial and chronological inquiry scenarios. Sample scenarios could be inquiries about the absolute workload of mobile switching centers in a large city or about the relaying rates of base transceiver stations in the region of the Nürburgring during a Formula 1 race. Up to three inquiry results can be visualized in the resulting map.

Q-GIS Architecture

The system is designed for use with a browser in an Intranet. Performing the automatic daily processing of large quantities of data, while conducting fast online calculations on the basis of this data, was met successfully with modern database management system (DBMS) techniques and optimized SQL inquiries.

Business Logic is the title given to the component of the system requiring and allowing for user interaction with the data. This is distributed through the user's browser using Java Servlets and Applets. Integrated Logic, developed by Pro DV, provides the integration between the Business Logic environment and the GIS software components using ArcIMS by means of JavaScript and HTML. The Oracle DBMS can be accessed from the servlet as well as ArcIMS. The data is administered using two database structures, depending on its use within the system. The Q-GIS database contains all the imported and processed measured data values and user-dependent data such as the configurations of reloadable settings and legend definitions for individual visualizations, whereas the geodatabase provides the basis for the geodata server. It contains all spatially related information that can be made available to other applications in the same system. Essentially, this refers to place or location data in the form of specialized tables; vector data such as points within a town; street data or polygon surfaces, which are stored in the database as firmly prescribed or freely definable parameters; and grid data for use as map backgrounds. This information is made available as geo-objects with the help of ArcSDE. Data creation and updating are done utilizing ArcInfo 8.x.

Q-GIS—The Information Basis for Quality

The basis of the information for the system is formed by the values measured daily by the T-D1 mobile radiotelephone antennas throughout Germany. Overall, several million data records accrue every day. These consist of the directly measured values of the individual cells and the rates derived from them; the spatially aggregated values of the existing cell groups; and the chronologically aggregated weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual values of those previously mentioned. The additional introduction of new parameters and calculation formulas is supported by the system.

The system allows the simultaneous dynamic observation of three different situations to be represented on the screen using coloring, symbol coloring, and symbol size. To take advantage of these visualization options, color and/or size intervals can be defined for each parameter and cell type, which can be saved as a user-related legend. In addition, absolute and percentage comparisons can be displayed. These visualization configurations are available to users through fast and clear inquiries and can be used as the basis for further configurations. The configurations can also be e-mailed to those wishing to examine and discuss them. In addition to the functionalities of pan, zoom, print, and full display, the system offers location-related data inquiries and hyperlinks at the click of the mouse.

The services of the geodata server on which the system is based offer the user a spatially related search using place name, region, specially marked area, cell name, cell number, and other criteria. The results of the search are displayed as a "hit list." From this list users make their choice, and the corresponding area is displayed at a practical zoom level.

These geodata services are used in the same manner by other applications within T-Mobile. In addition, a special geodata server front end exists for administration purposes, which is also based on browser technology.

For more information, contact Peter Feuerborn, manager (e-mail: peter.feuerborn@prodv.de, tel.: 0231-9792-129) or Dr. Ralph Heider, project manager (e-mail: office@prodv.de), Business Unit Location Based Services, PRO DV Software AG.

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