American Locator is a magazine dedicated to the protection of underground infrastructure. It “gets to the heart of recent news, updates, technology and processes focusing on damage prevention in the underground utility industry”. Heading up the June 2017 issue was a lengthy interview with PelicanCorp CEO, Duane Rodgers. Here’s a summary of what Duane had to say.
Duane ran through the history of PelicanCorp, explaining how in 1990 he, as a software engineer, had been called on to write a Windows-based One Call system for Melbourne One Call Systems, the forerunner of Dial Before You Dig. This was adopted by other states and by the late 90s needed a rewrite.
Duane relates how he took control of the software from DBYD and formed a joint venture with DBYD to rewrite the program and make it more web-based.
Over the following years, the software was taken up by several Australian states and was also in use in New Zealand.Supporting the product for the various customers and ensuring its compliance with different legislative regimes was becoming a substantial task, and it was then, 2007, that Duane combined all the businesses fulfilling these tasks into one, founding PelicanCorp.
Now with PelicanCorp having operations in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Europe the US and Canada Duane has in depth knowledge of the different legislative regimes and the way they assign responsibility for damage to underground infrastructure.
His comments provide much food for thought for legislators responsible for these regimes, especially this one, which American Locator chose to breakout and reproduce at the head of the interview. “…Regarding the current North American model, I would challenge some people and say that maybe their model is not the best one out there.”
Duane points out that, in Australia, liability for damage to underground infrastructure rests unequivocally with the contractor responsible, no matter what information they have been given, whereas in North America “there is always a lot of discussion about who did what and who is liable for what.”
He draws attention to a scheme in Canada called “Alternate Locate Agreements” under which contractors can gain permission from a utility to commence work without waiting for information on any buried infrastructure, if they employ digging practices considered safe. “Contractors like ALAs as it means they don’t have to wait days and days for paint on the ground locates,” Duane says.
Duane doesn’t explore ALAs in depth, but American Locator considered them sufficiently important to include a sidebar with the interview explaining them in detail.
One thing that emerged from the interview is that the traditional names — Dial Before You Dig in Australia and One Call in the US —are becoming rather outdated: contractors no longer pick up the phone and dial for location information; they go the web, or the PelicanCorp smartphone app.
“Our call centres in Australia and New Zealand are mainly contact centres now, most of our input comes from our online website or iPhone apps,” Duane says. He makes the point that with 8000 first time users of the service in Australia every month, ease of use is paramount.
American Locator magazine, available six times a year, addresses the challenges others shy away from and asks the questions on everyone’s minds, bringing unique information to your doorstep.
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