The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Bill, signed into law in November 2021, includes $550 billion in new federal investments for roads, bridges, water infrastructure, internet, and other selected major improvement projects. While some of the dollars included in the Bill are a reauthorization of previously agreed upon funding, the new portion of funding ($550 billion) represents one of the largest investments into United States infrastructure in history. Increased 811 ticket volume is inevitable as funding is distributed throughout the next five years, resulting in acceleration of fiber projects, major road reconstruction, new and updated rail line installation, underground water infrastructure improvements, and other large projects.
The 811 system is already dealing with challenges due to labor shortages that directly impact the abilities of facility owners and contract locators to hire field locators. As funds attached to the Infrastructure Bill continue to be dispersed, we will continue to see significant increases in 811 ticket requests. With more excavators breaking ground across the nation, an already stretched system will be stretched even further.
In an environment where damage prevention professionals are already facing challenges, the prospect of additional work creates an urgency for organizations to optimize their approach to damage prevention and set themselves up for success during the busy months and years to come. In order to assess your organization’s readiness, begin by evaluating the following categories: people, processes, and technology.
If there was a 50-100% increase in ticket volume, how would your team handle it? How many people would you need to add to your staff to support the increase in work, and how quickly could you do this? Think about this category not only from a numbers standpoint, but also a skillset standpoint. Is your current team equipped to manage such an increase in volume? What new skills might you need to add to your team from a leadership or business analytics standpoint?
On a scale of 1-10, how mature and operationally efficient are the processes your organization has in place today to support your damage prevention responsibilities? How would this change if there was a 50-100% increase in ticket volume? What are the top two or three areas where you would be challenged, and what can you do to mature these in the time ahead?
Does your team have the right tools and technology to support a 50-100% increase in ticket volume? Where in your processes could your team better leverage technology to increase efficiency, improve accuracy, and reduce risk? How accurate is your mapping data, and does your organization leverage mapping data to improve locator efficiency or screen tickets wherever possible?
The Infrastructure Bill is the largest in history, and the dollars associated have already started impacting damage prevention professionals across industry segments. Macro market conditions are likely to add to the complexities of being successful as damage prevention teams adjust amidst this environment. The Bill presents a great challenge and opportunity, and the time to ready your organization for its impact is now! If you haven’t already, begin evaluating the gaps your team may have in the categories of people, processes, and technology as a great way to center the conversation and prioritize the needs of your program.
Jim Plasynski, KorTerra CRO, leads KorTerra’s customer retention and acquisition strategy. He is focused on maximizing client value and propelling KorTerra’s growth to continually reinvest in its offerings. Jim shared this Infrastructure Bill insight to an eager audience at the national Global Excavation Safety Conference in Phoenix, AZ, in early March.