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3. When utilities are sold, removed, or abandoned.
The best time to document the utility location and other information is the day of construction. A high-accurate GPS device can record the utility location to a subcentimeter level. Unfortunately, locations were not often gathered for older utilities during construction, so we must rely on as- built documentation, digital files, and institutional knowledge to record these utilities. Additionally, as companies merge and acquire new infrastructure, those utilities must be added to the existing database in order to ensure a complete utility data set.
As utilities are exposed, discovered, or marked by line locators, utility owners have a golden opportunity to collect accurate GPS locations for previously installed lines. Even small segments of accurate lines can improve overall data quality tremendously. The GIS system can update those line locations and immediately share that to all key stakeholders.
Utilities are continually removed, abandoned, or sold to other
18 • Texas811 2024, Issue 1
organizations. If the GIS data is not updated accordingly, nonexistent utilities will continue to show on the map. Engineers, excavators, and line locators will be looking for ghost utilities that no longer exist. Planning, construction, and field time may all be delayed due to the inaccurate information.
Mobile tablets with site-wide maps of accurate utility GIS data have replaced the days of rolled-up, dated paper plans covered in redline markups. However, an organization’s digital data can also get out of date if the utility owner is not thinking and planning for utility updates. Newly built or acquired lines must be added to the database, and conversely, lines that are no longer active within the utility system must
be removed or marked as abandoned, whichever is appropriate. Utility operators must consistently focus on collecting and improving the location information of existing utilities, especially when lines are identified through targeted locate efforts or exposed during construction activities. Highly accurate utility information will continue to support Texas811’s effort to work with utility owners and excavators
to reduce line strikes, facilitate damage prevention, and promote public safety. After all, we all want to be able to go home at the end of the day and watch a bladesmith make a beautiful, twisted Damascus Bowie knife.
Chris Akin, GISP, is the President of Paratum Solutions, a privately- owned consulting firm specializing in GIS consultation and implementation solutions.
Chris has been in the GIS industry for over 20 years, focusing on developing, implementing, and managing GIS lines of business, projects, and personnel. Chris has established and grown the GIS programs for several companies and clients.
Paratum Solutions is a Preferred Partner of Texas811 and supports asset and facilities management by providing GIS solutions to utility, municipal, higher education, K-12, and healthcare markets.
The key is making your data centralized, shareable, and accessible.
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