Nulca, the organization for utility locating professionals, recognizes the critical role the locating function plays in the underground damage prevention process and that locators are essentially a limited resource. In order for those involved in damage prevention to better assure quality locates and more efficiently utilize the limited available locator resources, Nulca encourages parties to consider and adopt these best practices:
Project managers should consider providing advance notice to the locator(s) involved with substantial projects (example: buildouts of fiber optic cable installations for entire communities); use non-disclosure, confidentiality agreements with the locator to assure continued confidentiality of the proposed project; give two to four months advance notice of general location and extent and type of anticipated work, which will assist a locator in planning resource allocation, and the information may remain general enough to safeguard proprietary competitive information.
Nulca, the organization for utility locating professionals, recognizes the critical role the locating function plays in the underground damage prevention process and that locators are essentially a limited resource.
Ticket Volume Thresholds for Extended Locate Time
States and One Call systems should consider authorizing a rolling per day ticket threshold. Once the threshold ticket count is exceeded for a day, any excess volume will count towards the next business day’s ticket threshold and the excavation start date would be extended to the next day accordingly. This would allow for pacing of location resources based upon reasonable expectations.
Enforcement of Emergency Ticket Criteria
Emergency tickets are a critical component in the overall underground damage prevention process. However, they frequently consume an oversized proportion of locate resources because they cannot be planned for and tend to disrupt normal locating operations.
Timing of Scheduled Emergencies
Where practicable, the excavator should not schedule an emergency excavation at the start of a work day. Allowing for even modest additional normal work hour time for locating fosters better quality locates.
Nulca recognizes that the private utility sector is vastly underserved within the excavation notification systems across North America. The “One Call process” currently notifies public member companies, leaving many users with the impression that all utilities on site have been located. Nulca suggests the following techniques to enhance the process to prevent utility damages:
• One Call systems should add a message to system users that private utility lines may exist on excavation sites and refer them to an appropriate location to obtain further information. This location could be on the One Call system’s own website or the Nulca website.
• One Call systems should add a “page” on their website defining private utilities for its respective state and consider providing a method for private utility locating firms to add their contact information to a list of private facility locators. This could include links to the private utility locating firm’s website. If a web page cannot be added to the existing site, the system can provide a link to the Nulca website which contains an extensive listing of companies involved in private facility locating.
Over-notification and the likelihood of mis-notification of the intended area of excavation can almost certainly be reduced if the communication throughout the system – from excavator, to notification center, to facility operator, to locator – includes virtual white-lining of some sort depicting a map of the actual intended area of excavation.
GPS General Location Data
Notification centers should consider adding GPS location data to tickets being supplied to locators. Excavation location should be identified by latitude/longitude, U.S. National Grid, and/or other GPS location information in addition to common street address to assist in verifying location, as well as the locator’s route planning and assignment of locating work.
Standardization of One Call Laws and Processes
It would be beneficial to both locators and excavators if, where possible, One Call systems could standardize processes across the country. Wait times, ticket life, tolerance zones and size of tickets, for example, often change across state lines. This makes it difficult for both locators and excavators when trying to mobilize staff to other areas.
Nulca realizes that these are not new suggestions in many cases. We further realize that the locating industry must live up to its responsibilities within the framework provided. We also understand that damage prevention will only improve when all parties are communicating with one another and working together.