Industry stakeholders joined forces March 14-16 in Orlando, Florida, at the luxurious Rosen
Shingle Creek for the 2017 CGA 811 Excavation Safety Conference & Expo. This annual event
is dedicated to providing excellent educational content and networking opportunities to the
underground utility industry. Delegates from multiple countries came together to share their
ideas, solutions, and differing perspectives in a concerted and cooperative effort to reduce the
pervasiveness of underground utility damages affecting vital infrastructure around the globe.
CGA Committee Meetings kicked off the activities at the Rosen Shingle Creek on March 13, a day before the Conference & Expo began. This consortium of innovative, volunteer-led meetings represents the concerns of those involved with utility damage prevention. The message of damage prevention was not isolated to these committee meetings however. Educational opportunities permeated the Rosen hallways. A selection of workshops gave participants a truly in-depth experience in their chosen area of interest with topics ranging from sophisticated technologies, such as global navigation satellite systems and ground penetrating radar, to crucial financial and legal topics, such as damage investigation and claims resolution.
Later in the week, a full capacity crowd attended the CGA Annual Meeting, where outgoing
president Bob Kipp shared the stage with new CGA president Sarah Magruder Lyle.
Vendor Outreach Sessions offered exhibitors the opportunity to demonstrate how they are effectively making strides in damage prevention with their products and services. These classroom-style presentations gave exhibitors a platform beyond the exhibit hall to reach interested attendees.
The nearly 70 Conference Sessions provided 45-minute educational presentations, delivered by industry experts, covering subject matter meaningful to each stakeholder group. To help attendees decide which sessions best suited them, sessions were categorized within 10 industry
tracks, with 5-8 sessions running concurrently.
Four industry-specific Summits focused on pipeline, water, fiber optic and locator training.
Attendees were able to listen to, and interact with, a panel of accomplished industry leaders who discussed opportunities and challenges specific to their industries. This free-flowing dissemination of ideas provided a lively Q & A between the audience and panelists.
With all of these events and a sizeable crowd of industry professionals to connect with, the Poken event management platform made the experience quite effortless. Attendees could connect with one another by giving each other a “high four” which, in effect, exchanged a digital business card. It also assisted attendees in collecting digital information about every session, special event, and exhibitor booth they visited for further exploration post-conference. You could see attendees’ faces light up with intrigue every time their Poken glowed green.
about every session, special event, and exhibitor booth they visited for further exploration post-conference. You could see attendees’ faces light up with intrigue every time their Poken glowed green.
Attendees also had an opportunity to visit the 100+ exhibitors in the exhibit hall during the event, as well as enjoy a special Welcome Reception in the exhibitor area. From virtual reality experiences put on by the CGA and UTTO, to video reels played on the monstrous LED truck monitor, courtesy of Virginia 811, to the numerous impromptu hands-on demonstrations that were put on by all of the exhibitors, there was something for everyone.
A number of exhibitors presented at the New Locate Technology Forum and the New Product TED Talks, which occurred in the USIC Damage Prevention Theater, located in the center of the exhibit hall. Wednesday evening’s festivities marked a momentous occasion in the industry, as we celebrated the 10th Anniversary of 811.
The final day of the Conference brought in many fresh faces for 811 Safety Day, hosted by Sunshine 811. An event designed specifically for the professionals working in the field, it included free educational sessions, live demonstrations, as well as the opportunity to learn from exhibitors by visiting their booths in the exhibit hall. Many of our exhibitors graciously donated prizes for the Exhibitor Prize Give Away. Seth Feist of Avista was the Grand Prize winner of an Australian trip for two! Also, congratulations to Janet Stochla, who received a full conference registration for the 2018 CGA 811 Excavation Safety Conference & Expo for being the most active Poken user!
As this year’s Conference & Expo wound down, there was one more special event. It wouldn’t be March in Florida without golf, and so the Annual Call Before You Divot Classic gave attendees the opportunity to play Shingle Creek’s newly redesigned golf course.
As a first-time attendee, this was a whirlwind experience of diverse and rich opportunities. When I wasn’t strolling through the exhibit hall viewing the exhibitors’ wares, I was attentively listening and jotting down notes in the sessions, summits and other special events. It was inspiring to see the level of determination and passion that participating stakeholders demonstrated over these three days. The camaraderie evidenced by those in the community was unmistakable as every time I sat down next to someone, they always had a story to tell and a helping hand to lend. A big thank you goes out to all of the speakers, exhibitors, sponsors
and attendees. We hope to see you all at next year’s CGA 811 Excavation Safety Conference & Expo in Phoenix, Arizona!