A group of vendors and MSOs has created a forum that aims to promote the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for broadband engineering and operations, and to develop baseline standards for the technology itself.

The Broadband GIS Leadership Forum is comprised of charter representatives from Comcast Cable, Cox Communications and overbuilder Seren Innovations. Representing the vendors are Broadband Services Inc. (BSI), Fishel, Mastec and Kanotech Information Systems Ltd.

Noticeably absent from the vendor grouping is SPATIALinfo, a Colorado-based provider of GIS software and systems.

SPATIALinfo Executive Vice President Lenny Melamedas said the Forum has done some initial reaching out, but noted that his company has yet to receive a formal invitation to join the group.

"But it's good to hear that folks in the industry are waking up to some form of standardization of [GIS]," he said, noting that BSI and a number of MSOs already use SPATIALinfo products. "The key for us is that any standard that endorses an open set of data where everyone can access it without using proprietary formats is good for the industry. We want to be part of this," Melamedas added.

In a press release, the GIS Forum noted that its charter members have agreed to open participation to the entire industry, and pledged that recommendations and processes emerging from the Forum "will be non-commercial and unbiased, particularly regarding software and vendors."

Following an initial meeting held in May during the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers Cable-Tec Expo in Philadelphia, the Forum is slated to meet again this Thursday in Atlanta. Initial discussion topics have included data modeling, data attribution, application interface standards, the sharing of case study data and recommended guidelines and processes for GIS system implementation.

Creating standards for GIS will have a positive impact on cable's bottom line, the group claimed.

"Cable operators have faced significant price and implementation obstacles to the adoption of GIS technologies," said Corey Walker, Director of MapVantage GIS for BSI, in a statement. "The ability to provide operators with a standards-based approach would lower the cost of GIS implementation, and facilitate the use of GIS data across the enterprise to improve operating margins."