Page 6 - Tennessee 811 Magazine 2021 Issue 2
P. 6

By Jason Kouba
Damage Prevention Liaison Tennessee811
Good Locates Start With Good Maps
What is the importance of mapping when it comes
to locating underground utilities? You’ve heard it
a million times within the industry, “If I had x-ray vision I would never mis-mark a line.” Unfortunately, we have yet to reach this point and must rely on mapping and our equipment to accurately locate a facility buried in the ground that we cannot see. Let’s take a look at the three key players in providing mapping and the roles they play in performing accurate locates.
Let’s start with the utility owners as this is where the initial mapping starts. Many people involved in a project rely on the accuracy of these utilities maps to design and plan their projects. As a utility owner, having accurate maps can provide crucial data in project planning which helps save money on said projects. By knowing what facilities you will be dealing with on a project and approximate locations of these utilities, you can determine whether or not utilities may have to be moved, whether or not you will
have to cross them, and how much time should be budgeted and dedicated to exposing and working around existing utilities. Some operators have made it a point to improve the accuracy of their maps and have even started using GPS technology to map their utilities. If you are a utility owner and you don’t currently have
a program in place dedicated to improving the accuracy of your maps, maybe now is a good time to look into it. With ticket volumes continuing to increase year over year, the longer we wait to improve our maps, the higher the chances of having utilities damaged during excavation.
The next player with a key role in using mapping and GIS data to prevent damages to underground facilities is the one-call center. Tennessee 811 relies on GIS data provided by the member utilities to accurately dispatch locate information to its members. While it
is important to have the most up to date information available, it is the responsibility of the member utilities to keep this information current. If a utility has added service areas previously not included in data provided to the one call center, they will not be notified when tickets are called in for these areas unless you have submitted an update to Tennessee811. It is a good idea to check your GIS data that has been provided periodically, and at an absolute minimum annually. See page 8 for more on GIS and utility databases from our IT/GIS team.
Outside of utility GIS maps, there is other important mapping data that the call center needs to utilize. When an excavator calls in a ticket, they must provide an accurate address and or area of excavation. They also need to be able to provide driving directions from the nearest intersection to their area of work being called in. Being sure that this information is accurate when calling in tickets
4 • Tennessee811
2021, Issue 2

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