Distinguishing Locate Risk

Safe digging is the driving factor behind one call ticket management – both to preserve infrastructure and prevent injury – so it’s important that utilities and municipalities are armed with the right tools to minimize risk to both. This process starts with identifying high-risk excavations. There are many factors that go into identifying risky scenarios. A few that immediately stand out are awareness of facility type, geographic location, and the excavating party. Additionally, understanding the type of work to be performed can provide great insight into the risks that are present with a dig, particularly those involving explosives or horizontal directional boring.  

Hundreds of thousands of excavations occur in North America daily, and the more damage prevention teams work to identify high risk scenarios, the lower the risk of a large-scale damage becomes. Leveraging intelligence related to the top risk conditions and highlighting these so they are easily identifiable is particularly important for screeners, dispatchers, and locators. Damage prevention personnel can be more equipped to take meaningful action and minimize risk in these scenarios, including the likelihood of damage, injury, or in some situations, even loss of life. 

Impact of damages also needs to be considered when implementing effective strategies for protecting infrastructure. The costs of replacing assets, as well as the impact of damaging a particular facility, should be examined, too. Any asset owner is aware that fiber is valued above coax, transmission is more critical than distribution, and your mains are looked at with more importance than a service line. That said, location of assets and who is impacted in an instance of a damage or a service interruption also needs to be assessed. The accuracy and understanding of GIS/mapping data is vital in assisting damage prevention teams with prioritizing risk. This data should be leveraged to help prioritize high value assets/locations. With so many different components to screening and dispatching tickets, having a clearer picture of excavations that encroach on your most critical infrastructure is paramount. 

Knowledge and awareness are key to safe excavation. When you lack a detailed understanding of the data in front of you, risk increases for both locator and excavator. Ticket management companies are continuously looking for ways to improve their software, and some of them are now focused on providing damage prevention teams with a higher degree of notifications and risk assessment related to their tickets. As technology evolves, so does the expectation of a zero-damage world. By providing more actionable insights into risk, ticket management companies are doing their part by empowering utilities and municipalities to make increasingly educated decisions on how to handle certain excavation projects.

About the author: Matt Hill, Customer Success Manager, has been with KorTerra for 11 years. He is focused on partnering with users to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction and comprehensive utilization of KorTerra products.