….modern technology is really amazing and we take it for granted every single day. Today a client sent me an email with an aerial view of some buildings we are planning on connecting via point to point/multi-point wireless bridges. These buildings are in a remote location with no internet access at all. We’re going to change that. Anyway, as I’m doing some quick discovery work to send back some questions I have about the image I realize that what I’m doing would have taken a lot of money, a lot of resources, a lot of skill, and a lot of hardware to do just 10 years ago. Let me break it down for you:
My client went to what I’m assuming would be Google Maps or some other online mapping site to find the location online. This alone was not available 10 years ago. Google Maps started in 2005 with no satellite imagery. With a few exceptions, Mapquest started serving up Satellite images of locations in 2006. Prior to this, I’m assuming, one would have to order maps of locations from a cartography company like the one Mapquest was born out of. If no maps were available one would be required to visit the site and perform a professional survey just to get distances, angles, etc. This would require surveying equipment, plane trips, etc. Now it’s as easy as logging online and entering the address. From there you can calculate distances using the mapping software and even more.
Keep in mind that the “simple” things mentioned above require my client to have access to sophisticated satellites up in space that provide the images that are served up to him. Then he sends a screenshot of the image through email, maybe from his wireless laptop, that travels to his access point, which travels to his router, which travels through his modem to his ISP while stopping a few times at different hops along the way. Then seeing as we’re across the country from one another the data travels through many more hops until it reaches MY ISP, then served to my modem, router, access point and to my laptop. I also received it on my phone which receives it’s data from wireless towers that are scattered across the landscape to give us access to this data almost anywhere these days. All of this happens in just a few seconds. It must have only taken a few minutes for the whole scenario to unfold from him pulling up the map, getting the screenshot and then sending the image to me many miles, and states, away.
Just to kick it up a notch, and this is where it hit me how cool this is, I wanted to check the angle of the locations of the different sites. I needed to get a quick idea how many fell within 30 degrees of each other. The bridges we use are Ruckus ZoneFlex 7731’s. They have a generous 30 degree beam width that makes aiming them super easy and allows for putting in fewer bridges by using multi-point instead of just point to point, thus saving the client some money. I pulled out my Samsung Galaxy Note (coolest phone I’ve ever owned BTW) and opened the Android app Smart Tools. Using the protractor tool I overlaid the image to my laptop screen and measured the angles to get a better idea of what I was looking at. So cool.
This happens to me all the time. I’m busy doing something that I normally take for granted and all of a sudden it hits me how far we’ve come. In just 10 years time or even less, we have made things that used to take so much more time and resources take just a few minutes. In an age of exponential technology growth I’m really looking forward to the things that will be possible in just another 10 years time. Printable houses anyone?