Month: July 2016

Giving Back to School Backpack Drive

By Vanessa Jimenez-Browne, Land Use

At Md7, we strive to incorporate our core values into our daily work product and overall attitude.

When Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around we are keenly reminded to donate our time and money to those less fortunate. During past holidays, we have held competitive food drives, adopted families, and volunteered at various non-profits in the area. But what about the time in between? Times of need may swell around the holidays, but there are certainly communities and individuals that could use a helping hand every other day of the year. Md7 has created a Giving Back outreach committee to spearhead philanthropic efforts to last throughout the entire year.

As a member of the Giving Back outreach committee, it’s been a pleasure learning about the altruistic pursuits that each person harbors. Whether it be caring for homeless, youth, Veterans—to name a few—everyone seemed to have their passion project that drives them to give back to their community. One thing that we knew for certain, we didn’t want to just hand money to big organizations, we were looking to foster partnerships and relationships with local not-for-profits that we could more closely work with throughout the years.

For our Summer 2016 endeavor, we have chosen to participate in SAY San Diego’s Back-to-School Backpack drive. We have received 100 backpacks that need to be filled with a set list of school supplies. Md7 has held a back-to-school backpack drive in the past and it was met with great warmth and success. Not only has this project succeeded in getting Md7 employees involved, it has also presented a wonderful opportunity for their family members to take the initiative and become accountable in putting together a backpack of their own to give to someone in need. We chose SAY San Diego because it is a local organization that emphasizes addressing more than a single need or problem by providing solutions and support for youth and their families in matters relating to low-income needs, mental health, education, etc. We currently have 17 backpacks complete and are on target to complete our goal of 100 total packs by August 5th. We are encouraged by the great success with this project and are already discussing our next ventures and a larger end-of-the-year event!


Pokémon Invade Md7 Offices

By Tom Leddo, Vice President

A couple of years ago I attended a SIG event (Special Interest Group) focusing on augmented reality (AR) that was hosted by EvoNexus, a San Diego based, non-profit, technology incubator that helps accelerate the growth of entrepreneurial companies in the southern California area. They also provide excellent networking opportunities in the San Diego tech community.

As an ole wireless, real estate guy with no technology experience, I lacked the vision at that time to see the practical implications of AR and couldn’t understand how it would play out in the market place. I believed it had value, but I wasn’t able to grasp it.

Personally, the only application of AR I had experienced was the yellow, computer generated line that appears on television as the first-down indicator for a college or pro (American) football game. Now my vision is beginning to expand. The most obvious, well known example is Pokémon Go, the augmented reality game that uses the GPS on your iOS and Android smartphones to capture and even battle virtual creatures overlaid on real images through your smartphone camera.

Pokémon creatures are everywhere and everyone is either playing Pokémon Go or making fun of people who do. The Md7 offices in both the USA and Europe and the Md7 team members are no exception. The first documented capture of a #Md7Pokemon was made by Lynn Whitcher, Md7 General Counsel, in our headquarters in San Diego. As she walked down our hallways, Lynn was surprised to find a round, fuzzy, purple Venonat peering around the corner at her. She captured the creature (once on camera, and again with a Pokéball) and an addiction was born!

Pokémon Venonat spotted in the Md7 San Diego office. Photo by Lynn Whitcher

Lynn has even begun to become friendly with a few. Since the initial capture by Lynn and her subsequent befriending of the creatures, other Md7 team members have been also become friendly with Pokémon within Md7. Captures have been made from San Diego, to Seattle and all the way our Maastricht office in The Netherlands. The entire collection of photos can be found on Instagram via @md7llc and #Md7Pokemon.

For those of us who are not into Pokémon Go but are interested in other examples of AR technology, checkout this recent article in USA Today that features “five more cool AR apps” – Yelp, Blippar, Google Translate, Crayola Color Alive and Star Walk 2. While I may not have fully appreciated the market value of augmented reality when I first heard about it at the EvoNexus, SIG event a couple of years ago, I see it now. And I also expect we will see a lot more of it in the near future.


Responsible (and Accelerated) Deployment of Small Cells

By Sean Maddox, Land Use Project Manager and Tom Leddo, Vice President

The much anticipated rollout of small cells appears to have finally arrived. The wireless infrastructure industry has been forecasting the small cell boom for the last couple of years and while the current wave is not as big as initially anticipated, the work is rolling out, and along with it a lot of new challenges. It’s clear that business as usual (which arguably no longer works even in the macro-site context) has no place in small cell deployments.

Some of the hurdles include:

  • developing new deployment models, including internal tracking and project milestones tailored to small cell polygons and clusters, rather than macro-site systems,
  • negotiating bulk attachment agreements with a variety of municipalities, utilities and pole/infrastructure owners,
  • rapid, large scale deployments at a low cost per node; and of course
  • working with local municipalities to develop guidelines for deployments specific to small cell technology.

In our opinion, the last issue is the most significant challenge we face at this time. On the one hand, operators have an immediate need for large-scale, efficient deployments in the rights‑of‑way. On the other hand, municipalities need to maintain the architectural and historical integrity of their communities while faced with an extraordinarily large volume of applications crossing their desks and (often) antiquated code, guidelines, and processes designed for hundred-foot towers. Given the stakes, the wireless infrastructure industry must take the lead to bridge these issues.

The following table outlines these two points of views from a high level.

responsible_small_cell_table

 

The Challenge

Mobile operators need to deploy a lot of new technology quickly and at a low cost due to their saturated market space. Based on the latest technology, one of the best ways to do this is to mount small cells on utility and light poles in the right-of-way.

Local officials want to make sure the latest technology being mounted on these poles is deployed in a manner that is consistent with the look and feel of their community so that their citizens (ideally speaking) can have access to bandwidth without even knowing where the rad centers are located. Many local officials are just now being exposed to small cell technology for the first time, leading to small cell approval processes being shoehorned into macro-site build processes.

As carriers and municipalities work through newer deployment models, frustrations have arisen on both sides. However, at the end of the day, mobile operators and local officials both just want to meet their customer’s/citizen’s expectations.

Is it possible to satisfy the consumer and the citizen in each of us?

At Md7, we believe the answer is yes – small cells can be deployed and even accelerated in a responsible manner.

 

Five Tips for Responsible and Accelerated Deployment of Small Cells

The following are the top-five tips that the Land Use Team at Md7 has generally found not only satisfy the local officials, but also actually accelerate deployments for our customers.

1. Treat people with respect. At Md7, “respect for the individual” is one of our six core values. Simply put, treat each person as you would want to be treated. If we treat each person we encounter as we want to be treated (even if they are opposing us on an issue), life is just more enjoyable.

2. Approach your municipality early. And often. For most jurisdictions, small cells are part of a new world. Therefore, as soon as a project is in-house (and subject to client consent), approach the jurisdiction with the project. The more visual materials available, the better. Getting the planning office involved early on allows for mutually agreed upon designs and government buy off. Bring in updated materials as they become available to continue the earlier dialogue and to help avoid expensive and time-consuming design revisions.

3. Aesthetics matter. The look of the final constructed project matters a lot. It matters to the municipalities, it matters to the citizens, and it matters to every future deployment. An aesthetically displeasing build leads to community distrust. Keep the wires tight and equipment small. Remember, this may be someone’s home. The look of the deployment must fit the look of the neighborhood.

4. Take the long term approach. If you push an approval request through in an irresponsible manner you may, in some circumstances, actually get on-air more quickly. Or, more often than not, you may actually delay your deployment through multiple rejections and resubmissions. Not to mention, you will damage relationships with the key decision makers within a community and often scorch the earth for future deployments.

5. If the municipal code or local guidelines are out of date, work with the municipality to update them. Md7 has actually done this in a few occasions. Many municipalities don’t have the time or resources to draft new code or guidelines for a technology they have never seen. By taking the time to educate them on the new technology and even giving them examples of code or guidelines from other municipalities, the goodwill you create more than offsets the time and cost to your projects on the front end.

The wireless consumer is also a citizen. The people who earn a living developing wireless infrastructure ultimately serve the same individuals that local government officials represent. The Land Use Team at Md7 has found that practices such as these not only smooth out the entitlement process, but actually accelerate deployments – particularly in the rapidly developing arena of outdoor small cells.

 


Old code, New tricks: The Challenge of Deploying Small Cells when the Municipal Code is Outdated

By Sharon Gretch, Zoning Manager

‘Change is the heartbeat of growth.’ – Scottie Somers

Outdated wireless code. The bane of jurisdiction staff and telecommunication professionals alike. Old code that may not address new technology, much less consider changes in Federal law.  As my grandmother used to say, “If you don’t like it – change it.” Wise woman.

A key factor in building a better city, a better county, a better community is to have a solid zoning code. We understand and want to be a part of that; working hand-in-hand with the communities in which we do business. Given the speed that wireless technology is morphing, many jurisdictions, though industry savvy, do not have a full understanding of what technology is available and how this technology can be utilized to best integrate into their communities.

There is code out there that hasn’t been changed since 2003 and technology has radically evolved in 13 years. The way we use data/video today was virtually science fiction when a lot of these older codes were adopted. Yet, there are a few municipal codes that are stuck in a time where the Blackberry PDA and even the Motorolla Startac were the hot consumer buy of the day. Why? Time and staff. Jurisdictions do not have the time or the personnel to amend code. They are busy facing the unique challenges of their communities; slaying those home grown dragons one at a time. They don’t have the time to contemplate, research and propose best practices as fast as the cell sites evolve.

Resultantly, we’re left doing the best we can to provide a design that works for our clients and the community under limited scope. The outcome – a monopole in the front yard of a residential district. The code says we can…but should we? Things like that create angry citizens, bad PR for our clients and, worst case; moratoria where progress can come to a screeching halt.

This is where we can facilitate change. We have the ability to provide the education, industry know how and access to our diverse library of wireless codes from across the United States to build a better code.

Taking the time to address code changes can be a benefit to both the community, jurisdiction and client.

  • For our clients? A huge benefit – time to market. Even though the process can initially be time consuming, reduction in confusion, refined process and clear code makes for a much speedier process down the road.
  • For Jurisdictions? Breaking down the old code and creating a code that meets the needs of a growing community; matching the unique community culture with the code

And that’s what this is what Md7 is all about – serving our clients, our neighbors and our communities to the best of our abilities with respect and integrity.