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Next Practices Case Study: UtiliSource

Impact of Accurate, Accessible GIS Mapping at the City Level

UtiliSource is installing 374,000 linear feet of fiber optic cable in the city of Warrenton, Mo., this year. As it completes the fiber install, it is potholing and GIS mapping the city’s complete underground utility infrastructure: electric, gas, water, sewer, cable TV and fiber. This ambitious mapping endeavor by UtiliSource is part of the company’s vision for completing its wide range of engineering, planning and design, utility service and construction projects more efficiently with highly accurate GIS maps of buried facilities.

Utilizing Vivax-Metrotech’s RTK-Pro Utility Locator with Survey-Grade GNSS, UtiliSource is recording the precise location of third-party utility locates, locates the company completes itself, and the actual location and depth of utilities from potholes. LaunchPoint software systems expanded its mobile application, SiteRight to allow direct connection to the Vivax. This allowed UtiliSource staff to create custom forms inside the SiteRight application for field collection of various utility types. The Vivax-Metrotech locating device ties into LaunchPoints SiteRight to record utility location and depth data, utilizing the state of Missouri’s GIS base stations to be accurate within a centimeter. By collecting data on locating paint marks and comparing them to the approximately 3,700 potholes it plans to dig, UtiliSource will also be able to analyze the accuracy of locate markings against the true location and depth of facilities.

Timeline and Scope

UtiliSource began its Warrenton, Mo., project in February 2021 and will likely complete it in October 2021. It will be mapping approximately 374,000 linear feet of utilities and completing approximately 3,700 potholes in Warrenton, which is home to 5,200 residences.


Business Case and Estimated Efficiencies

UtiliSource’s broad range of services means that the company often finds itself working in the same areas again and again, so having its own highly accurate GIS maps of the location and depth of buried utilities would allow the company to work more efficiently. Company leadership estimates that it can achieve approximately 15% better time efficiency on projects where they can begin the planning and design stages with an accurate understanding of the location of buried infrastructure, and cut time spent potholing to verify facilities by 50%.

Safety and protection are also primary motivators for this project: Workers’ personal safety can be better guarded with a true understanding of the location of high-consequence utilities. Additionally, because the locator device will capture pictures of locate marks that often become destroyed in the process of mitigating accidental cuts to buried utilities, photographic evidence will exist to prove that marks were on the ground in the event of a dig-in, which helps shield the company from undue liability.


Dedicated Resources

UtiliSource has dedicated a full-time employee (who previously was a construction foreman for the organization) to managing its mapping project, who is supported by three GIS specialists who were hired in the last six months. The company also invested in 25 of the Vivax-Metrotech’s RTK-Pro Utility Locator with Survey-Grade GNSS devices, which are among the first affordable locating devices on the market equipped to capture facility accuracy within a centimeter and relay the data to a map. Finally, UtiliSource is working with LaunchPoint Software Solutions to receive data from the locating devices and load it onto a GIS map (bypassing Google Earth, which is not as accurate as GIS maps). The current download solutions from SiteRite are KML and shapefile. LaunchPoint Software Solutions are working on an API that connects directly to UtiliSources arcgis online organization.

The company also plans to hire three or four additional GIS specialists in the near future, and would need to invest in an additional 35 Vivax-Metrotech RTK-Pro devices in order to give all of its crews the ability to map facilities as they work.


Next Steps

UtiliSource is carefully tracking the time and resources that it is investing in this pilot project and will share its efficiencies gained and lessons learned with CGA as the program concludes and results are analyzed. The company is open to sharing its detailed facility location and grade map with local utilities and the city of Warrenton itself to help improve damage prevention efforts.

For more information about this case study, please contact us. If your organization would like to submit a case study to the Next Practices Initiative, please visit the Next Practices information submission page.



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