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Efficient Telecommunications Management: Automated Attribute Population and Updates with SGIS Desktop – An In-depth Research

Published on: 12.10.2023


In the realm of telecommunications, the infrastructure comprises elements such as handholes or manholes, galleries, pipes/tubes, telecommunications distribution cabinets, antenna towers, relay towers, lattice towers otherwise referred to as “self-supporting towers” and poles, and, notably, various types of cables including optical, coaxial, data, and copper.

Efficiently planning, installing, expanding, and maintaining this infrastructure requires its comprehensive digital creation and management. Geographic Information System (GIS) data and appropriate software provide a natural and effective platform for overseeing telecommunications infrastructure. This is because the infrastructure can be accurately represented as points and lines, with each element linked to a wealth of attribute information. As a result, GIS proves to be an invaluable tool in this context.

State regulatory authorities responsible for telecommunications markets have defined a standardized structure for telecommunications data that telecommunications operators must adhere to, when submitting their information. Furthermore, each telecommunications operator has the autonomy to design a customized data structure for their specific telecommunications registry, as per their requirements. This balance between regulatory guidelines and operator flexibility ensures efficient data management in the telecommunications sector.

In the following text, we will provide a detailed description of how to input attribute values, using a telecommunications infrastructure example with SGIS Desktop software.

SGIS Desktop - A Practical Approach and Solution

In this discussion, we’ll illustrate the process of filling in specific fields within an attribute table using two examples from telecommunications networks.

Our first example involves an underground optical cable network running through ducts, connecting manhole to manhole or manhole to an optical distribution cabinet or point, and all linked to a single host. Please note that to protect data privacy, certain values will be adjusted.

In the layer list, locate and select the ‘OK-16-01.shp’ layer, representing optical cable 01. Clicking on ‘Attributes’ opens the attribute table. To populate the ‘ID_KBL’ field correctly, allocate 2 positions for the cable number, 2 positions for the optical cable code, and 4 positions for the incremental value, starting from 347.

To fill the ‘ID_KBL’ field, start by clicking on it. You’ll see a confirmation in the status line of the attribute window, indicating that you are working with this field, marked as “Selected Field is ID_KBL.” The next step involves clicking the ‘Edit Tools’ button, which opens an additional toolbar.

Now, when you click the third button, it will first ask for confirmation (previous data in this field will be cleared; in our case, the field is empty). Click ‘Yes’ to confirm. Next, a dialog box for entering a template for incrementing will appear. For example, you can enter ‘0105xxxx’. In the subsequent dialog box, enter the starting value for the increment, like ‘347’. This process will automatically populate the field, starting from the first segment as ‘01050347’ and ending at the last segment as ‘01050378’.

The value entered in the template follows a specific format: numbers or letters become part of the field value, and if there is a letter ‘x,’ it serves as a placeholder for the increment. The number of ‘x’ characters in the template determines the number of positions reserved for the increment. You can see the result displayed below for reference.

In the second example, we are dealing with an underground network of copper cables within a cable duct. You’ll observe that the fields APOINT and ZPOINT are currently empty. To complete these fields, you should populate them with the connector identifier, which is ID_NAS from the ‘connection.shp’ layer, or the distribution identifier, which is ID_ZAV from the ‘distribution.shp’ layer. This step is essential for proper data organization and connectivity in the network.

The decision of whether to populate the APOINT field with a connector identifier or a distribution identifier hinges on where the cable segment begins, whether at a connector or at a distribution cabinet. Similarly, the choice for filling the ZPOINT field depends on whether the cable segment concludes at a connector or at a distribution cabinet.

In practical terms, this means that filling one field, such as APOINT in the ‘cable.shp’ layer, involves retrieving a specific value from the attributes of another layer. You can accomplish this through the ‘Attribute Tools’ > ‘Link Data’ option available in the main menu. This data linkage is crucial for maintaining accurate and comprehensive records in your GIS system.

Attribute Tools - Link Data Tool

This tool initiates a new form that allows you to establish data links. To use it effectively, you need to define values in the “Initialization” section, specify relations in the “Relation” section, and configure settings in the “Settings” section before clicking the “Link Data” button.

In our specific scenario, ensure that the ‘cable.shp’ layer is actively selected. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. From the dropdown list in the “Changing values field” section of the active layer, choose the field you want to populate, such as ‘APOINT’.
  2. Select the layer from which you want to extract values as the “Selected Layer”. In our case, it’s ‘connection.shp’.
  3. In the “Condition change field” dropdown list, pick the ‘ID_NAS’ field, from which the values will be taken.

Please note that the tool automatically recognizes the data type of the active layer [POLYLINE] and the selected layer [POINT], which is displayed beneath the layer names. This recognition helps populate the dropdown list with relevant geometric relationships, making the process more intuitive and efficient for you.

We have selected the relationship ‘Polyline starts at the point’.

In the ‘Settings’ section, by default, the ‘Edit empty fields or…’ option is checked, while ‘Append to Value’ is unchecked.

  • The first checkbox implies that in the ‘OK-16-01.shp’ layer, elements with either an empty ‘APOINT’ field or a field containing a user-defined value will be populated.
  • The second checkbox means that values satisfying the defined relationship will be added to the ‘Changing values field.’ If left unchecked, the previous value is cleared, and the field is filled with the value from the ‘Condition change field.’
  • The ‘Additional Condition’ option allows for an extra selection condition. By marking the ‘Condition field’ and choosing a field (in our case, ‘ID_KBL’), the ‘Pattern’ field is populated with a value from the first element (01010000). This option is particularly useful when multiple elements meet the geometric condition. In such cases, it selects the element containing the relevant code at the designated position. For instance, we’ve chosen ’01’ from the start and then clicked the ‘SP’ button.

Before Executing the 'Link Data' Action

Prior to executing the ‘Link Data’ action, you have the option to adjust the value 0.110. This value is expressed in meters and signifies the tolerance level used when identifying elements that meet the geometric relationship defined by the user.

The ‘Link Data’ action is responsible for filling the ‘APOINT’ field with values from the ‘ID_NAS’ field. You can review the results of this action in the ‘LOG’ memo located at the bottom of the form. This log provides valuable feedback and ensures you can verify the process effectively.

Next, let’s make a modification to the ‘Selected Layer.’ We’ll choose ‘distribution.shp’ and specify the ‘ID_ZAV’ field for population. All other settings will remain unchanged. When you click ‘Link Data,’ the following results are obtained:

Completing the Cable Segments Data

In our workflow, we first populated the ‘APOINT’ field for cable segments whose starting point matches the connector’s position, using ‘connection.shp’ and the ‘ID_NAS’ field. Then, in the subsequent step, we did the same for segments whose starting point aligns with the distribution’s location.

Now, we will work on the ‘ZPOINT’ field in the active cable layer. We’ll repeat the process, filling it from ‘connection.shp’ and ‘distribution.shp.’ However, there’s one key change in these steps: we’ll modify the geometric relationship to ‘Polyline ends at the point.’ This change is important because the ‘ZPOINT’ field needs to contain identifiers of connectors or distribution cabinets located at the end of the cable segment. This ensures comprehensive and accurate data for your network.

When you access the attribute form, you’ll have the opportunity to review the outcomes of filling the ‘APOINT’ and ‘ZPOINT’ fields in the four data population steps. This allows you to verify the data accurately and make any necessary adjustments.

We opted to check the ‘Condition field’ box and set values to distinguish results when there are multiple elements satisfying the geometric relationship. This decision came after conducting a geometry check on identical elements in both the ‘connection.shp’ layer, which represents connectors, and the ‘distribution.shp’ layer, representing distribution cabinets. We performed this check before initiating data population using the ‘Link Data’ form.

It’s important to note that if these point elements didn’t contain geometrically identical elements, then when populating fields using the ‘Link Data’ form, there wouldn’t be a need to establish an additional selection condition, as confirmed by the ‘Condition field’ checkbox.

The ‘Link Data’ form streamlines data population by transferring values from a selected layer to the active layer. This transfer is based on a defined geometric relationship between elements in both layers. By automating this process, it significantly reduces manual data entry and saves valuable time.

The provided example involved filling in APOINT and ZPOINT, and it included a total of 812 cable segments. These segments were successfully completed in under 5 minutes using the method described.


Kiro Gorgiev

Elena Gorgieva