Recent Trends in GIS Improve Damage Prevention Process

How many times have you sent a locator to mark a site only to find that your utilities are a safe distance away? Unnecessary field locates waste time and resources. Fortunately, with GIS technology, needless locates are avoidable.

Ticket management software merges ticket information with mapping data. Users can then see a map with ticket location and all underground facilities in relation to the dig site alongside the ticket itself.

Multiple facility types can be displayed using different color schemes to indicate which are present. If you have aboveground and underground facilities, they can be color-coded to quickly indicate whether the underground locate will impact your facilities.

The benefits of integrating GIS with facility maps improve the damage prevention process in a number of ways:

Expedited Locate Time
With GIS mapping, locators can create the most efficient route for their day and get driving directions if needed. Viewing underground facilities on a ticket map speeds up the time it takes to find the dig site and aids in quickly locating the facilities.

Increased Safety
GIS integration provides up-to-date mapping data, enabling more accurate locates. The most current information available is in the locator’s hands onsite through the facility map in their ticket management system. This increases visibility for field users, making it easier to compare the location of underground facilities versus where digging will occur.

Another key safety feature of this technology is the ability to create buffers around high-profile facilities. Many companies set up special alerts based on how close a locate ticket is to their high-profile facility. If a locate falls within a certain number of feet from or within a buffer, the utility company knows to proceed with extra care.

Reduced Costs
A dispatcher can screen tickets through GIS asset maps and choose whether to manually or automatically send them. For example, tickets coming within a certain facility buffer may be automatically sent to a locator to visit the dig site. All other tickets can be screened manually by dispatchers to determine whether an onsite visit is required to mark or clear facilities. Any tickets that are cleared in the office do not require a locate, eliminating the cost of visiting a dig site. This process saves time, vehicle expenses and labor that would have been spent locating facilities.

Increase GIS Accuracy
Companies can note any GIS discrepancies found on their facility map. If a locator is at a dig site and notices a facility is not mapped accurately, or that there is new pipe in the ground, the inconsistencies can be noted and sent to a GIS department.

GIS Integration Implementation
Integrating GIS data within damage prevention software facility mapping can be easy
depending on the complexity of the GIS data. A common method of GIS integration includes the use of hosted map data. If an organization hosts its own GIS data, that information can be linked to by the software provider. If the organization does not host
its own GIS data, the software provider will typically ask that the organization send the GIS data as Shape files (this is a GIS standard file).

This GIS mapping information is then uploaded into the system and will automatically populate within a facility map whenever a locate ticket is opened. These files can be easily updated in the system if the maps have changed or continue to change over time.

By implementing a ticket management solution with GIS integration and facility mapping,
underground utility owners and operators will reduce the costs of unnecessary locates and create efficiencies within the organization. It also allows for safer digging practices for everyone using the GIS system.

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