Minnesota Pilot Program Update: GPS Enabled Locating Systems

The first and ongoing phase of the Minnesota Underground Utility Mapping Project Team (UUMPT) was to introduce two leading GPS underground utility locating systems to communities across Minnesota. The goal of introducing these locating systems was to enable facility operators to map utilities more accurately in a timely manner and to increase awareness of this new capability. The results to date of this pilot project highlight that it has become easier to attain high quality, accurate underground utility maps, and the benefits of doing so should have a significant impact on reducing damages of underground utilities.

Since the publication of the article “Gopher State One Call Launches Statewide Pilot Program” in the fall 2021 issue of dp-PRO, this pilot project has continued, and new facility operators are constantly being added to the pipeline of interested parties.

The pilot project participants have embraced this effort of putting new technology into the hands of Minnesota facility operators and contractors. The GPS-enabled locating systems being used are the Vivax-Metrotek vLoc3-Pro RTK locator, supported by UtilityLogic, and the GPS utility mapping solution provided by Subsurface Solutions using the Radiodection 8100 locator. The project was initiated in August 2020, and the methodology includes a 30-day trial of either system with the support of UtilityLogic or Subsurface Solutions. The support includes training, mapping software and data management capability. Each participant’s experience is reviewed upon completion of their trial.

To date there are more than 20 municipalities, two major facility operators and four contractors who have participated in the program. This project summary is the result of personal interviews with each participant:


• Ability to capture GPS data efficiently while locating without loss of locating productivity (Several of the pilot project testers have found the GPS enabled locators so useful they have arranged to purchase the equipment and put it into permanent use.)
• More accurate locating
• Increased trust in utility maps
• Able to “walk back” to previously GPS located lines and features
• Easy to use; a small learning curve
• Customizable feature descriptions
• Direct link capability via the cloud to facility operator GIS system
• Not much gear to carry around
• Easy to update infrastructure maps with more accurate data
• Simple, stable and affordable locating and mapping options
• Captures features
• Reliable
• Easy to map an entire development
• Eliminates a second trip to the field to capture accurate line and feature data


• How to differentiate more accurate maps from less accurate maps (Separate map layers based on accuracy level and collection method were used by several pilot project participants to address this concern.)
• Affected by trees and time of day, as is true with all survey equipment

This effort of putting new GPS enabled locating technology into the hands of Minnesota facility operators and contractors has been very successful. GPS-enabled locating mapping systems have been evolving for several years and will continue to improve capabilities. This pilot project highlights that these systems provide highly accurate GPS data, are easy to use in the field by all skill levels of personnel, provide an easy process to update utility maps, and are cost effective. The use of these systems should result in more accurate maps, leading to a reduction in underground damages. In addition, this capability should improve efficiency in design engineering projects by having an increase in accuracy of facility operator maps.

If you have questions about the technology being used in the UUMPT pilot project, contact Joe Rubbelke, Director of UtilityLogic at sales@utilitylogic. com or Travis Beran, President of Subsurface Solutions at travis@subsurfacesolutions.com.

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