Is 811 Broken? A Two-Part Virtual Networking Event Explores Issues and Best Practices

As part of the 2021 Global Excavation Safety Conference VIRTUAL, KorTerra’s Tom Hall, Vice President of Business Development, facilitated a lively and informative two-part roundtable discussion that addressed the question: Is 811 broken? This provocative inquiry inspired attendees from across industries to share damage prevention experiences, best practices, and ideas as well as ask questions of one another.

A wide range of industry experts and stakeholders attended both networking sessions, representing several parties focused on damage prevention, including excavation, utilities and facility owners, and One Call centers such as NC811 (North Carolina), MISS DIG 811 (Michigan Utility Notification System), Arizona 811, and others.

The first session of the conversation took place on the opening morning of the conference, and the second on day two.

Topics discussed in the recorded sessions included:

Accuracy and timeliness concerns related to using contracted locators versus in-house locators

• Reporting capabilities from both the utility and One Call perspectives • Private line locate processes

• Issues and potential solutions related to abandoned facilities, old infrastructure, and inactive or obsolete lines

• Damage prevention awareness, education, and advocacy

• Patroller programs and quality control

• Lack of continuity within the One Call process and ticket management systems

• The need for trust and balance of responsibility among stakeholders

• Effective ways to bring people together and level the playing field

Discussions occurred and resources were shared in the chat function of the virtual sessions as well.

Is 811 broken? While everyone could agree that there are specific areas needing improvement, responses were mixed among the group. Some feel that overall, the system works but needs to evolve and improve in specific areas. Others think that yes, in some states, 811 is broken to a certain degree. Laws, processes, and accountability vary from state to state. The conversation illustrated a point that we should all remember: Different stakeholders face different challenges, but we are all passionate about finding resolutions, protecting assets, and saving lives.

The conversation can’t stop here. All parties must have a seat at the table and be heard. Working together, we can address and resolve those challenges for all. Conferences like this, and continued communication among all stakeholders will allow for the sharing of best practices and an opportunity to fix what’s broken. The value of bringing industry experts together to share insight, offer solutions, and learn from one another cannot be overstated. This is how we will arrive at and develop best practices for all stakeholders so that we can reach zero incidents together.

KorTerra is the leading provider of damage prevention software, protecting billions of dollars in underground infrastructure. KorTerra provides secure cloud and mobile platforms for processing 811 locate tickets, tracking and reporting asset damages, meeting regulatory compliance, and more. Learn more at help