Posted by Daniel Gardner
When I started with Clearion just over a year ago, I was doing general support but I gravitated quickly toward actively supporting our telecom contractors simply because of the volume of work. Our main telecommunications customer brings on lots of new contractors on a routine basis.
To support them, we have their tablets shipped directly to our office in Atlanta where we setup the Clearion tools along with integrated, mapping grade GPS devices and then ship the tablets back out. This allowed me to learn the Clearion software and our installation process quickly but serving these customers over the phone and via web-based meetings also allowed me gain greater, in-depth knowledge of the telecom contractors’ side of the house and the engineering world where our solution is implemented and applied.
Clearion is used a lot for maintenance and repairs to telecom transmission lines. When an errant back-hoe hits an underground fiber line, contractors are deployed to splice the line and get the signal moving through it again. In addition, our largest telecom customer is also in the midst of an immense job where they’re completely rebuilding their telecom infrastructure across many states and Clearion is used for that, as well.
One of the things that I noticed when learning the system is that different categories of clients/contractors have their own separate databases and mapping platforms. For one customer, their environmental consulting groups collect and map critical data (e.g., wetlands, environmental hazards). They also have engineering teams who map potential engineering routes which can be informed by the environmental maps. Construction crews then use the engineering maps to build the telecommunications infrastructure. Later, yet another team collects data and documents the exact location of where the structures were built (“as built”). Clearion pulls all of this information together into a single platform that becomes a place for collaboration among these different groups.
Just picking up the engineering process and language has been helpful. Engineers call me now and say things like, “I have an engineering long line cable plunk. Can you help me?” and I can. I’ve learned the difference between transmission and distribution lines—and now understand that telecom contractors call transmission “long line.”
By spending a lot of time talking with contractors in the field who are using Clearion, I continually gain new ideas of how we can better support them from minor tweaks to broader suggestions of how we can help streamline workflows and make Clearion as user friendly as possible.
One example is the Clearion ribbon and how it appears on different devices. Some of the higher quality tablets, similar to those that police and patrol officers use, have lower resolution, truncated ribbons. Rather than recommend that our customer not purchase those tablets, we recently recognized that we have an opportunity to reconfigure which buttons take priority and place those front-and-center on our ribbon.
Even small nuances like that, which can streamline the data collection process and minimize frustration, can make a big difference in the field. If we weren’t on the phone daily providing support, we may not have noticed.
It’s a rewarding experience.
Note about our author: Dan started at Clearion just over a year ago in our three-month internship program. With an undergraduate degree in geology from Kent State and masters in geosciences from Georgia State, he was interested in geography, geology and GIS. He is the perfect fit for Clearion’s small, tight-knit group of GIS fans so we hired him full-time the minute his internship ended—and we’re grateful for his hard work, attention to detail, excellent customer service skills and product development insights.