A Damage Prevention View of the Infrastructure Bill: Are you leveraging the right technologies to maximize your efficiency?

Written by: Mitch Stendal, President, KorTerra

Ticket volumes have been steadily increasing and there are no indications of a slowdown, especially with additional investment stimulated by the recent Infrastructure Bill. However, organizations are faced with constraints in terms of budgets and resourcing, making it crucial to rely on tools that support damage prevention efforts to ensure the maximum efficiency of their workforce. Those involved in these efforts should critically evaluate how their damage prevention tools and technologies aid them in each stage of the process to minimize human intervention and maximize the productive time of their field personnel. This can be done in various ways, but the most critical metrics to watch are the ability to reduce the amount of overhead required to support field personnel and maximize the number of tickets each locator can take on.

The Importance of Automation and UI/UX Design

The first and most critical step is to have a ticket management solution that provides strong automation capabilities. This not only drives efficiency, but also reduces errors. Customers should look for damage prevention tools and technologies that can automate all processes outside of the activity of locating itself. That starts with routing the tickets to the right field staff at the right time, automating the collection of field data, and automating communication back to the call center and excavator.

One element often overlooked in terms of efficiency is good UI and UX design. A software product can have complex capabilities, but if it is difficult to use and hinders locators from doing their job, it can limit productivity. When evaluating software tools, customers should consider how easy it is to configure, how intuitive the tool is, how easy it will be to bring new users up to speed, and how efficient it is for users to navigate the tool and get back to their work.

Leveraging Machine Learning for Efficiency Gains

One field of technology with massive potential for improving damage prevention efforts is machine learning. In today’s fast-paced world, time is a precious resource, and machine learning can help individuals involved in damage prevention by streamlining their efforts. This has been demonstrated through the implementation of risk scoring, which enables utility owners to focus their damage prevention efforts on activities such as auditing tickets that require heightened scrutiny, thus ensuring safety during the excavation process.

Machine learning can also bring about significant benefits in terms of resource allocation in the field. For instance, it can assist with workforce management and load balancing of the locate workload among those in the field. With the help of machine learning, damage prevention teams can work more efficiently and effectively, ensuring that resources are allocated optimally, leading to safer excavations.

Using Business Intelligence Dashboards

Business intelligence (BI) dashboards are another great tool which help to increase your efficiency by allowing you to visualize and analyze certain data and metrics which are crucial to your business. What you look for in your BI dashboards will depend on your role in damage prevention at your organization and your responsibilities, but in all cases, you should focus on what is actionable, and what really matters. Actionable meaning where having increased visibility would drive different actions to produce a better result. Regarding what really matters, it’s important to keep an eye on the end goal. Be cautious of being distracted by “vanity metrics” which are interesting, where it’s possible to succeed in that metric, but still fall short of your overall goal.

Business intelligence is incredibly powerful and can drive decisions that are better informed and more prompt, but it’s important to focus on simplicity. A dashboard that’s overly cluttered or has too much going on will limit your ability to draw meaningful conclusions from the data and pick up on patterns, trends, and relationships in your data.

Maximizing the Impact of Risk Scoring Data

One damage prevention tool that has been a topic of conversation in recent years is risk scoring. Risk scoring is a methodology used to assess the likelihood of damage to buried facilities during excavation. It involves analyzing various factors and assigning a score, which can then be used to prioritize tickets for further review or intervention.

The real value of risk scoring lies in the interventions it can enable. While the score itself is interesting, it only becomes impactful when it leads to a change in behavior that results in an improved outcome. The specific intervention required will depend on the scenario at hand. For example, addressing a known risky excavator that has caused line strikes in the past will require a different approach compared to addressing a locate with a high degree of overlap between the proposed excavation area and buried facility lines in that area.

To reduce the occurrences of at-fault damages by utility operators, consider focusing on interventions such as routing the ticket to a senior locator, triggering an audit review, or implementing a watchdog process. These interventions can have a significant impact on preventing damages and improving outcomes.

Where do you start?

The best technology advice for organizations right now would be to conduct a thorough evaluation of potential technology partners before making any purchasing decisions. It’s important to consider the vendor’s track record in delivering new capabilities. Are their features well thought out and valuable, or are they rushed and of limited utility? It’s also essential to assess the vendor’s longevity and whether they are committed to building a long-term partnership with your organization.

It’s also essential to look beyond the initial features and consider the ongoing support and relationship with the vendor. Consider talking to other organizations that have experience working with the vendor and assess their experience with the vendor’s ongoing support. Having a reliable vendor that you can work with productively is crucial for success in damage prevention. Carefully evaluating potential technology partners can help ensure your organization invests in damage prevention tools and technologies that meet its needs and has a long-term commitment to supporting its success.

About KorTerra, Inc.

KorTerra is the leading provider of damage prevention software, protecting billions of dollars in underground infrastructure. For over 30 years, the leading stakeholders in gas distribution, pipeline operation, telecommunications, electric distribution, contract locating, and city, county, and state governments have trusted KorTerra as their damage prevention solution. KorTerra helps mitigate risk and ensure the safety of field personnel by providing secure software platforms for processing 811 locate tickets, tracking and reporting asset damages, meeting regulatory compliance, and more. Explore additional solutions at korterra.com and follow KorTerra on LinkedIn.

Media Contact:
Paige Nygaard – KorTerra, Inc.