Knowing how to locate underground utilities is important for the safety of everyone involved – construction workers and residents in the area. If digging commences without knowing the approximate location of any underground utilities, it can cause damage to water and sewer lines, gas, electric, and communications systems, causing service disruptions, resulting in expensive repairs, and leading to serious injuries.
Utilities are Buried Everywhere
There are more than 20 million miles of underground utilities spanning the United States. Reports indicate about 38.6 million people will start digging before they know where the underground utilities are located, and they will cause injuries and damages. You should always have underground utilities properly marked before starting to dig.
Properly Locating Underground Utilities
By properly locating underground utilities, or by calling 811 to have underground utilities marked, you can decrease the chances of damaging underground utilities when you dig to less than 1 percent. While sometimes searching for underground utilities seems like guesswork, it has become advanced technological perfection in recent years.
Electromagnetic locating is effective in finding underground utilities. These devices are omnidirectional. They are basically antennas wrapped around a sphere that lets the user have a complete 360-degree view of what lies under the ground.
Before the new equipment was invented, underground utilities had to be located perpendicular to a line and swing back and forth to find the path. Now the line can be approached from any direction and it can still discover the utilities. Knowing the exact location of underground utilities is especially important when gas lines are involved, because an explosion could result.
Integrating the Devices with Updated Equipment
Omnidirectional antennas have been integrated with new apps for mobile devices that include GPS. This will let the user apply digital paint on a satellite map, so they will have future reference. That way, on any return visits to the site the user can pull up the map and then see where the utilities are located so they will know exactly where to start.
Thanks to advanced technology, the mobile app can be integrated with geographic information systems (GIS) to allow the user to add data while making a layered visual that provides multiple data sets. You can then create a complete, useful image of what is underground, so you will know how to proceed with future projects.