There’s something to be said for “a bird’s eye view,” and Pointivo has provided that for more than 10,000 telecom towers in the U.S. in the past year alone. The company’s Tower Analytics software platform is changing the way engineering firms, tower owners and wireless carriers collect, store and compare asset data.
Pointivo’s Tower Analytics platform integrates imagery from drones to generate a high resolution, 3D digital twin of telecom towers, ground space, roads and terrain. “Our software platform accurately measures dimensions of antennas, location of mounts and even available tower space, and provides that information in a visual application,” says Dan Ciprari, CEO/Co-founder. An end-to-end audit can be completed in as little as 30 minutes. The completed report displays the information broken down by layers, in a user-friendly interface that reveals precise details about the tower.
The company’s AI-driven modeling engine enables seamless 2D to 3D models. Jacob Garland, Chief Technology Officer, explains: “A camera-equipped drone performs an automated scan of the tower using a predetermined, optimized flight pattern. After a quick upload to our cloud platform the structure is recreated in 3D for inspection and a complete analysis.”
In contrast, manually captured data by tower techs can open the door to discrepancies. Over time, engineering firms might notice variances in information across departments. Often firms struggle with captured data stored in various locations, not easily accessed over time by multiple people. Pointivo’s program safely archives past data and allows for side-by-side comparisons of earlier records. “You never know what details are going to be important later. If you can capture the full tower in high resolution, you can go back and see what it looked like on a given day,” says Garland.
Tower owners and wireless carriers use the data for engineering tasks like site design, maintenance and modifications. Accurately collecting this intelligence and the ability to identify assets from a comprehensive digital catalog eliminates the need for return tower visits, saving time and money.
“We’ve worked hand-in-hand with customers to create our digital catalog. We use data collected in the field from the towers we’ve processed, as well as from manufacturing catalogs and technical spec sheets,” says Garland.
The digital twin is not meant to replace climbers. “We will never reduce the demand for skilled labor. We increase the supply side. We fly a tower, collect data and then someone still needs to climb the tower to mount equipment or perform maintenance. We reduce the amount of physical time on the tower and climber fatigue, which makes for a safer process,” says Tom Roberts, Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
With the increased workload from 5G, Pointivo’s system helps alleviate workforce strain by streamlining internal operations. “Gathering measurements and mapping antennas and mounts previously required a tower climb by technicians on-site, armed with a point-and-shoot camera and a clipboard. We’ve converted that to a push-button drone flight, capturing imagery and tower data that then culminates in a 3D record of the tower, accessible right from a desktop browser,” explains Garland.
Externally, the data paves the way for potential financial streams. “Having a complete inventory of available space as well as existing hardware can help identify new revenue opportunities for tower owners and carriers. If there is open space, what kind of load can new equipment put on the tower?” asks Roberts.
The Tower Analytics program is compatible with common technology platforms, so it integrates into any backend system, from legacy databases and customized internal catalogs to software like AutoCAD and RISA-3D. “We can integrate information from a customer’s legacy system, clean the data and then reintroduce it back into the original system. Customers appreciate us offering this alternative,” says Ciprari.
Pointivo is transforming how companies collect, manage and analyze data about their physical assets, according to Ciprari, but the data is of no use unless it’s accurate. Pointivo guarantees “the highest accuracy, meaning +/-0.5 cm over a 120m or approximately 400 foot distance,” which is a key differentiator.
Co-founders Dr. Habib Fathi, Chief Science Officer and Dan Ciprari, CEO, met in 2014 at a technology incubator tied to the Georgia Institute of Technology and Pointivo was born. The first product was developed to assist the residential and commercial roofing industry. It became clear there were transferable benefits to another at-height market and the telecom application went live in 2019.
Ciprari says they are most proud of how they create solutions to solve complex customer problems. Their long-term client relationships speak to that. Garland adds, “We love working directly with customers to understand what their pain points are and how our technology can serve their needs.”
For 2021, the team hopes to triple the volume of towers audited, broaden their customer base, increase business with tower owners and engineering firms, and deepen the integrations of their software. “We are good at what we do, we are hungry to solve problems and we’re open to growing and learning from the process,” says Ciprari.