GIS Has Helped Jio in Creating a Global Record

This kind of geo-enabled process engineering and automation has resulted in tremendous efficiency and scheduled gains for Jio in our network build stage and are is one of the main reasons behind the success of commissioning such a huge greenfield network in the shortest time, which is a global record, shares Milind Deshpande, Senior Vice President of Reliance Jio in an exclusive interview with AGI India.

What does the future look like at Reliance Jio? What are some of the upcoming plans?

JIO is now the undisputed leader of telecom technology and infrastructure in India with the largest 4G customer base, the largest share of data and VOLTE voice traffic and a world-class next-generation, Pan-India broadband network. In the past 4-5 months, JIO has become the digital lifeline for Indians.

  • Jio’s vision stands on two solid pillars – Digital Connectivity and Digital  Platforms.
  • We have kickstarted all the 5 accelerators of growth of Digital Connectivity:
  • Mobile Broadband
  • Jio Fiber
  • Enterprise Broadband
  • Broadband for SMEs and
  • Narrowband IoT Service

In the next 3 years, Jio can connect over half a billion mobile customers, over a billion smart sensors and over 50 million Homes and Businesses. Further, on the basis of development of in-house capabilities, Jio will also launch world-class 5G service in India using home grown solutions, easily upgrading our all-IP 4G network to 5G.

Jio Platforms will develop 4G & 5G technologies, Cloud Computing, Devices and Operating Systems, Big Data Analytics, AI & ML, VR / AR / MR, Blockchain, NLP and computer vision etc. to provide services in the fields of New Commerce, Education, Healthcare, Agriculture, Smart Cities, Smart Manufacturing …and Smart Mobility.

How would geospatial information and technology be leveraged in your future plans?

All of Jio Digital Connectivity’s Accelerators require detailed 2D mapping to building footprint level and in some cases building indoor mapping. Narrowband Internet of Things (NBIoT) has tremendous potential in outdoor and agriculture applications requiring classified Land Use Land Cover (LU/LC) data, imagery etc. Jio’s GIS Team will endeavor to fulfill these requirements in the coming years.

Modern image acquisition techniques like drones, mobile mappers etc. will also be tried out. 5G RF planning will require extensive 3D urban mapping. Jio will evaluate multiple technologies available for this purpose and develop its own solution.

Jio has initiated the use of Geospatial Big Data Analytics in providing cost effective, high quality, custom tailored solutions for wireline enterprise / SME customers. Geospatial Big Data Analytics is also being utilized to continuously improve upon the mobile coverage and performance. We plan to continuously improve upon these techniques.

We will also continue to enhance our Geospatially-enabled work processes in for expanding network in new areas, enhancing existing network in brownfield areas, Network Operations and Maintenance. Further, our customer acquisition and activation processes are also geo-enabled. We will continue to improve on these using newer technologies like Real Time GIS.

You have on a previous occasion mentioned that up to 60% of Jio business processes now rely on geospatial technologies. Can you elaborate on this and how did you measure the transition?

That is correct. Building a telecom network from scratch and later operating it involves several complex business processes spanning multiple departments like planning, engineering, real estate, construction, finance and accounts, operations and maintenance etc. All of them have to work in sync with each other without any cracks or drops in the underlying business process. Another important aspect is that telecom, or for that matter other utilities, networks are all deployed in public domain where engineering drawings are impossible to create. Ast the same time, these network assets need to be depicted in a visual form at their correct location so as to avoid damages, disputes and be able to reach them quickly when needed. This means the answer to “Where is my Asset?” is vital.

Modern GIS systems are inherently workflow-enabled. Jio has made use of GIS systems to automate all business processes so that we are able to locate the assets correctly on ground and. In in our GIS and ERP systems, trigger various non-spatial processes (e.g. renting of a site or payment to a contractor) only after certain spatial events are completed. This way we have geo-enabled many of our processes right from the stage of network planning through site suitability / RoW survey, site / RoW acquisition, construction monitoring and Go-Live using a combination of desktop, web and mainly mobile applications.

Further, after network As-Built and Go-Live, our O&M Team uses the same data and other mobile apps to maintain the network where processes are integrated with ERP system thereby ensuring geo-enablement of material management and contracting.

What kinds of benefits did Reliance Jio accrue by applying geospatial information and technologies in your workflow?

This The kind of geo-enabled process engineering and automation we have deployed, has resulted in tremendous efficiency and schedule gains for Jio, in our network build stage and are one of the main reasons behind the success of commissioning such a huge greenfield network in shortest time, which is a global record.

Further, even after commissioning, our O&M Team can patrol the entire network, conduct preventive maintenance across the whole country in an efficient manner with geo-enabled business processes and integration between GIS and other enterprise systems.

Incremental network build is a continuous activity in any telco. Here also, extensive use of GIS platform and geospatial big Big data Data analytics has ensured optimum expansion of network thereby reducing the number of sites and fiber deployment.

Was it easy to convince your senior management to adopt geospatial technologies? How did you overcome those challenges? What is their outlook on this issue now?

Jio’s senior management is visionary and forward looking. Back when we started to build Jio’s network, GIS was one of the first technology platforms put in place. Our GIS vision, implementation, process automation was being monitored at the highest level in the beginning. So, no, it was not at all difficult to convince Jio’s Senior Management about using geospatial technology in network build. In fact, the management has been encouraging many other teams to explore how this technology can benefit other business areas at Jio.

Jio plans to continue using geospatial technology to power its future businesses – mobile, home and enterprise / SME wireline as well as 5G. Our management realizes the importance of geospatial technology and is regularly reviewing progress and possibilities in of enhancing its use at Jio.

What can the geospatial industry expect from Reliance Jio in terms of partnerships and collaborations in future? What are your expectations from them?

Jio believes in growing businesses through partnerships. Our partners have contributed significantly to our strengths across many of our business areas and we are inviting even more start-ups to join forces with us. In the geospatial technology area, we welcome partners having innovative solutions as well as strength and competitiveness in traditional GIS activities like mapping, survey and field work. Working with Jio is a rewarding experience for any partner due to our style of challenging the best out of all of us, thereby continuously improving the efficiencies of operations, which helps the partners not only on Jio projects but also elsewhere.