From Awareness to Advocacy: MISS DIG 811’s New Roadway to Damage Prevention

In 2014, the State of Michigan passed PA 174, the MISS DIG Act, for the protection of under-ground utilities. As part of that legislation, MISS DIG 811 was tasked with educating all stakeholders and the public. We needed to evaluate how to reach such a broad audience and effect substantive reductions in damages to facilities to bring about real change with a limited staff and budget.

The Old Roadway
MISS DIG 811, like many One Call Centers, set up a series of Damage Prevention Associations (DPA’s) throughout the state. The DPA’s were hosted by Damage Prevention Liaisons, who served as mediators between the utility companies, locators, municipalities, and excavators. This was a successful model for many years and served an important function in establishing awareness, which we have carried into our new roadway. The DPA’s and liaisons fostered a forum where discussions could take place to resolve issues that affected all stakeholders (locate issues, lack of dig ticket, incomplete or thorough scope of work, etc.). Additionally, the DPA’s allowed stakeholders to connect with one another directly, which assisted all parties in expanding communication when onsite issues occurred.

Why a New Roadway?
One of the biggest changes initiated by PA 174 was that each stakeholder group now has defined responsibilities and recourse if other stakeholders do not meet their requirements as set by PA 174. The result of the communication established through the DPA’s and PA 174, in association with years of advertising, was a saturation point of awareness, with professional excavators in particular. This is illustrated by the data from our Newtin First Time Caller Survey.

The New Roadway
MISS DIG 811 has restructured our entire outreach to reflect the requirements of PA 174, building on the foundation of years of advertising and DPA’s. The New Roadway begins with awareness, which leads to education and fosters advocacy.
Awareness : Having knowledge or cognizance
Education : The knowledge or skill obtained or developed by a learning process
Advocacy :Active support

MISS DIG 811, along with our Public Awareness Committee Partners (Consumers Energy, DTE, SEMCO, and TransCanada), concentrates our efforts on raising general awareness through traditional media outlets (cable TV ads, billboards, and web banners). Each partner also provides monthly damage information so that we can direct our efforts towards
communities where damages have spiked. We also target root causes of damages. This year, those causes are homeowners, tent rental, and landscaping. We received SDP Grant funding from PHMSA to provide tree tags and banners to half of the nurseries (338) in Michigan. We have applied to receive the same funding in 2018 to reach the remaining half.

MISS DIG 811 participates in stakeholder committees to provide awareness to each stake-holder group of MISS DIG 811 message and changes, including:

• MDPB – Michigan Damage Prevention Board*
     • TIME – Ticket Initiation Management and Execution*
     • MUCC – Michigan Utility Coordination Committee*
     • GUIDE – Geospatial Utility Infrastructure Data Exchange*
     • MISS DIG 811 Gold Shovel Standard and Great Lakes Foundation
*Meeting minutes and additional information for these committees is available at www. Click on the Committees and Best Practices tab.

MISS DIG 811 has established an Education Team made up of education specialists drawn from our existing staff that has combined experience in the Call Center, Member Services, and Remote Ticket Entry training. These education specialists schedule seminars and training sessions (onsite or remote), and host weekly statewide conference calls (see MISS DIG 811 Live! article, page 46, spring 2017 Damage Prevention Professional). They cover our certification program and provide state-certified Waste Water, Drinking Water, Surveyor and Engineering CEC’s and CEU’s. Our Education Team also educates excavators, utility companies, municipalities, engineers, and designers.

Stakeholders elevate their investment in MISS DIG 811 through the benefits they receive from our education and certification offerings. Stakeholders then share these benefits with their peers and become advocates for the MISS DIG 811 process.

MISS DIG 811 will begin to implement the education to advocacy roadway. Advocacy can be achieved by offering partnerships with associated stakeholders to promote MISS DIG 811 on their websites, building departments, and trade organizations. This will, in turn, bolster the awareness piece of the new roadway.

MISS DIG 811 believes our best assets are a properly educated stakeholder, whether that be the MISS DIG 811-certified member of an excavating crew who moves from one company to another and, before digging, asks his or her new employer where the flags are; the municipal water department locator who kept his or her state licensing credentials with the aid of MISS DIG 811 CEC’s and who lets coworkers know they can get the same value from MISS
DIG 811 education; or utility company dispatchers who know how to best use the MISS DIG 811 process to keep their crews safe and productive, and share their success with others in their company or at industry events.

Bruce S. Campbell is CEO of MISS DIG 811. He can be reached at The strategy discussed in this article has been adopted by the MISS DIG 811 Board of Directors as a part of the CEO’s three-year plan.


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