Vermont Bands Together for Broadband With Mobile Map Truck

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ECFiber, a communication union district in east-central Vermont, is using new technology to help expand its service in the area. The municipality, comprised of 31 communities, is relying on a high-tech van to report information that will be used for buildout plans. According to VTDigger, to start planning, the district needs to collect data on utility poles in the towns that are to be added.

In order to map the 429 mile area, ECFiber enlisted the help of Honey Badger Analytics, a Minnesota-based company that provides tech savvy solutions for data systems, storage and collection. The company’s answer is a Mobile Mapping Unit, which relies on cameras and laser scanners atop a van to map and measure each utility pole that it passes. The van’s findings will then be matched with a collection of photographs taken by a ground team.

Honey Badger’s Brad Folta explained to VTDigger, “I call the work we do ‘locational analytics’ because we are taking the exact location of millions of points and processing them to identify each utility pole and get an exact height of every attached wire and ‘see’ where the wires go, and link this data to the photographs.”

This technology, if successful, will streamline the surveying process, which was previously done by one person, on foot, making expanding broadband coverage a slow and strenuous process.

The data collection being done currently could be incorporated into plans by spring and possibly implemented with construction as early as next summer, according to VTDigger. District leaders anticipate this project could help facilitate broadband expansion for other areas of Vermont as well. 

Vermont’s nine communications union districts – municipal entities formed to build communication infrastructure – are the state’s response to rural, poorly-connected, communities. The plans for a broadband buildout come at a time when more individuals are relying on the internet to stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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