Canada’s largest communications company, Bell Canada (Bell), leads the industry in providing world-class services to consumers and businesses across the country. Residential services include fiber-based TV and Internet, connected home, home phone and national wireless, while its wide range of business communications services extend to data hosting and cloud computing. Bell also operates an extensive network of retail outlets across Canada.

To deliver the next-generation services its customers demand, Bell invests heavily in research and development to advance its network infrastructure and design innovative solutions. With 22 million subscribers, multiple business segments and more than 60,000 employees, Bell operations generate massive volumes of data. The company is constantly seeking ways to better use that data to support effective broadband network investments, ongoing service improvements and efficient operations.

Collaboration, visualization and analytics for better planning

Geospatial data for network planning

As a long-standing consulting and IT services provider to Bell with extensive knowledge of its operations and goals, CGI recommended use of data visualization and geospatial technologies to increase the effectiveness of Bell’s network planning process. Initially rolled out as a proof of concept several years ago, the initiative has evolved into an enterprise-wide geospatial data platform that is helping Bell to unlock powerful data insights for network planning, analytics and much more.

Prior to the geospatial data platform initiative, most network planning activities were carried out autonomously, with little consultation between the planners responsible for different geographies. Additionally, planners often used manual, paper-based processes, making it difficult to analyze multiple data sources or share information with one another.

Bell needed a way to make the data accessible via a web application so planners could better collaborate. In addition, they aimed to make it easier for planners to visualize and analyze large amounts of complex data.

New geospatial capabilities make immediate impact

CGI worked with Bell to rapidly deliver the new collaboration and visualization platform proof of concept using a low-code approach, agile methods and continuous delivery mindset, completing the initial version in just four weeks.

The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) was created using commercially available technologies, Bell data assets and data services from geospatial data leaders such as ESRI and Google. It allowed multiple layers of data such as areas of interest, fiber segments and engineering components―to be viewed, searched, visualized and printed in support of network planning activities.

Scaling from MVP to enterprise-wide

CGI evolved the platform through agile sprint deliveries with a continuous improvement approach to include more data sources, functionality and mobile capabilities. Bell quickly recognized the value such a solution could deliver to other areas of the business. Word spread quickly as more data was integrated from across Bell’s production environments, leading to a queue of additional business domains wanting to use the platform.

Requests were prioritized and CGI began training additional Bell resources how to configure the low-code platform to meet unique business needs. A key advantage of the platform was its ability to accommodate additional use cases very rapidly, scaling well to meet new needs. As a result, Bell decided to forego a planned enterprise data warehouse investment and instead use the CGI solution as the enterprise geospatial data platform.

Today, more than 225 layers of spatial data are housed within the platform’s data warehouse, refreshed periodically, with new layers added during each sprint. The geospatial platform ecosystem is responsive to any data need, including the ability to upload data on the fly for specific analytical needs.

By harnessing the power of spatial data to support its continued business optimization and growth objectives, the platform helps Bell advance toward its goal to be recognized as Canada’s leading communications company.