Page URL: http://gb.baumpub.com/opinions/225/small-investment-can-mean-big-cost-savings-in-infrastructure-damage
Someone I know just spent an afternoon watching utility crews fix a broken gas line outside his home. It’s an all too common issue; in this case, a road construction crew hit a line while paving.
There is so much underground infrastructure in our cities today that it can be hard to avoid hitting it without serious research before the shovel hits the ground. Most municipalities have moved towards the use of GIS databases to ensure that their services are mapped and recorded, as have utilities. The problem, though, is the need to check every one of those databases to see what lies beneath the ground at that particular point.
The blending of technologies is moving in the right direction to reduce the dangers of striking underground services, but there are still many challenges. Maps can be incorrect – witness the case of the pipeline strike that sprayed oil over a busy Vancouver street a few years ago.
“Call before you dig” services are a great help in preventing underground damage, but only five provinces have such centralized services. In this issue, we talk about some of the other methods that can be used by public works departments and contractors to double-check locations.
Locating tools, ground-penetrating radar and other techniques are available at a reasonable cost, allowing works departments or contractors the opportunity to check before they dig. That material can be entered into a variety of software packages; the use of analytics software to process GIS data is becoming more popular and effective.
Other software is also available that can allow multiple utilities and departments to plot out their projects independently, allowing many users to see what is planned and what is complete, preventing conflicts.
For a municipality, the costs – monetary and public relations – can be high when a utility break occurs. Investing in some options to double-check the maps is an easy and responsible way to avoid those added costs.
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