Page 12 - Texas811 Magazine 2022 Issue 3
P. 12

Technology Alone
By Roger Cox
President ACTS Now, Inc.
as a result of not calling before digging
Let me
Let me give you a little background. I still remember paper maps stacked on a
table or hanging in One Call Centers for the Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) to identify
work sites and approximate location of underground utilities. They did a great job when you think about the tools they didn’t have.
Attending Summits or conferences across the country today, I listen in awe as manufacturers and locators alike talk about the features of their new locating equipment. Shiny new twin-engine, dual exhaust, vibrating, souped up multifrequency, GPS collecting devices that almost see through the dirt. I can’t help but think back to how proud I
was hooking up my brand-new Cable Hound, pressing that green receiver to my ear, holding that little wire and just a swangin’ it back and forth as I located underground lines. I thought to myself even back then, “Oh the miracles of modern technology!”
Don’t even get me started talking about the changes in the excavation industry over the past 20 – 30 years. Not only is the equipment super advanced today but moving from manual drawings to 3-D drawings is the stuff of Star Wars. Incorporating GPS, lasers and optics allowed operators to do their jobs more effectively and more safely.
No doubt about it, technology has been and continues to be a tremendous focus in our industry and rightly so. But there is something that technology hasn’t touched. Let me explain...
About twenty years ago, when I was introduced to national statistics, we were reminded of the importance
of calling before we dig. We still
agree with that conclusion. We were reminded to call because we understood that the number one reason damages
to underground utility lines occurred was that the call was not made. As I remember, the percentage of damages attributed to not calling before we dug ranged around 25%.
Just within the last 30 days, statistics from data collected within the past year tell us that not making the call to 811 before digging is still the number one cause of damages to underground utilities. It now accounts for nearly
30% of all damages. Better mapping, more efficient 811 software and easier to contact the call center. We can call it, tap it or click it and we can do it on our schedule.
I believe the report because it is based on real data. As I listened to the presentation, I made a few brief notes for further consideration. I wrote, “I wonder how much money has been invested in technology changes in
the last 20 years across the industry.” Admittedly, I don’t know, however, it must be in the millions or perhaps billions of dollars. My initial conclusion from that is, “No matter how much we spend on technology, it has not moved the needle on the number one reason for damages to underground utilities.”
10 • Texas811 2022, Issue 3

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