KNOWING WHAT’S BELOW WITH A PASSION TO SERVE, DEDICATON TO SAFETY, AND A “Bit” OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Virginia811 embraces its role within damage prevention and the protection of underground utilities with a “passion to serve, dedication to safety.” This, in short, is Virginia811’s mantra, its mission, its core. Striving to provide exceptional service with a relentless pursuit to produce high quality, accurate, locate requests, the Notification Center is driven to protect life and property by ensuring information is conveyed from those excavating in Virginia to potentially affected utility members so they can mark underground utilities to mitigate the risk of accidents. We, as a team, are proud of this work and find it incredibly fulfilling.

One important way Virginia811 improves service is through Ticket Entry software for professional excavators. Through this service, excavators can avoid the time of calling 811 and simply create their locate requests online through a Web Ticket Entry (WTE) platform. Virginia 811 recently launched the Viriniga811 Academy, an online learning platform that allows potential WTE users the ability to train on the ticket entry software at their convenience before setting up an online WTE account. This eliminates the previous need to sit through live training sessions, either in person or through video conferencing, although those options are still available for those not comfortable with online learning tools.

Service is only half of our mantra! With over 600,000 WTE tickets processed annually, Virginia811 wants to ensure these tickets are accurate and clearly convey the information locators need to accurately mark utilities. With such a large number of WTE tickets, Virginia811 directs resources toward auditing about 35% of these tickets. In 2019, Virginia811 was awarded a PHMSA Grant to partner with the Statistical Applications and Innovations Group (SAIG) at Virginia Tech to develop artificial intelligence to improve auditing efforts. This project was a huge success!

Analyzing over 1.3 million WTE locate requests, SAIG was able to create an algorithm that accounts for relationships between variables within tickets that can suggest varying degrees of erroneous information. The result is an artificial intelligence model that can audit 100% of WTE tickets every 30 minutes. This allows, in near real time, directing of tickets identified as potentially containing errors to human auditors who can verify the accuracy of the ticket and, if inaccurate, contact the WTE user to correct concerns. Human auditors still review roughly 35% of the WTE tickets, but with the assistance of AI, the tickets they audit contain a higher probability of needing corrective action than relying on strictly random auditing as in the past. This greatly enhances overall QA/QC efforts, ensuring both service and safety are maintained.

Ultimately, Virginia811, or any notification center, can only play a role in safety if those engaging in excavation activities contact them to obtain a locate request ticket. We must all be diligent and vigilant, never cutting corners. The only way to truly know what is below, and safely excavate, is by contacting the One Call center, whether over the phone or online. Stay safe – and use the free services 811 offers.

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