Viewing Map Data

It’s very useful to map your pole and premise data in order to make sure they are complete and to identify anomalies, such a apparent gaps between poles or to premises that may indicate some missing data or conduit. Google Earth Pro is a great free tool for doing this. It can open .kmz files and import SHP (shapefiles) and display the data overlaid on it’s usual map or satellite imagery. Some people prefer the free open source QGIS, which has more features but is more complex to use and only works with shape files (.SHP). Sources of data include:

  • Pole surveys usually supply a kmz file as well as other formats and info. WG&E can supply you with a KMZ or SHP file with you pole inventory for applications.
  • OLIVER: MassGIS’s Online Mapping Tool – Search for your town, then click the icon in the upper right for the data export wizard. The KML export doesn’t seem to work, but the Excel and SHP exports work. The SHP file can be imported into Google Earth Pro and saved as a KMZ file. The assessors parcel data is particularly useful. There is also Title 5 and protected openspace overlays that show where building is restricted. Spreadsheets with premise data are also available.
  • The MB123 middle mile has a kmz file available at: MassBroadband 123 Maps & Data

Sharing this data with neighboring towns can be a great help in identifying and resolving edge cases where premises in one town are served by poles in another town.

Viewing Autocad Design Files

WG&E or other design contractors might supply you with an AutoCad file (.dwg) for viewing. There are several ways to view this without having to purchase the expensive AutoCad software. AutoDesk, the maker of AutoCad, offers several viewers at Unfortunately, these only run on Windows. Another alternative that works on all platforms is the AutoDesk Online Viewer . You can set up a free account and use it in your browsers. You upload and save the dwg file and do your markup online. There’s a 30-day count down, but you can keep extending it indefinitely. This is stored in the cloud so you can share it by sending the supplied link URL to anyone. By clicking on “Comments” in the upper right, a side bar opens on the right where you can create and store markups with the Markup link and tools at the bottom of the window. When you save these, you can create screenshots or send share links to marked up areas for others to view. Also, there are viewers for iPad and other tablets with both free and pro versions. The free viewers do allow markup, but not actual editing.

Craig Martin of Shutesbury has created an online tool for finding nearest neighbor pole and premise distances. You can access it at: GPS Coordinate Neighbor Finder.