In 2014, for the fourth year running, PelicanCorp held a draw at the annual Common Ground Alliance (CGA) show in the US, with the prize being a trip for two to Australia. Last month we caught up with the winner, Mike Sullivan, president at Alberta One-Call, when he took his trip to Australia accompanied by his wife, Julie.
The rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) is throwing a spotlight on the underpinning of the national Dial-Before-You-Dig service: the accuracy of the information on underground asset location provided to it by local councils, energy utilities and other asset owners.
Dial before you dig is a great service for anyone planning to dig a hole in the ground, but it relies on the owners of buried infrastructure to provide accurate information on the location of that infrastructure, and that is sometimes sadly lacking.
A year ago, in January 2014, an article in the Sydney Morning Herald carried the headline: "Here's what those crazy markings spray-painted all over Sydney pavements mean."
Dial Before You Dig has teamed up with Australian trenchless consultant company, Trenchless Advisor, to produce a new method for verifying the competency of directional drillers.
In the hyper-digitised world of today the management of data on the location of underground infrastructure is something of laggard, despite the potentially fatal consequences of incorrect or absent date.
You don’t have to go very deep before you hit underground infrastructure, and you don’t even have to be digging up the ground to worry about where it is located: a fact that was brought home with very painful and near fatal consequences to an unfortunate Jack Russell terrier in the Victorian town of Northcote.
Stories of diggers and drillers hitting buried gas pipes, water mains and power cables are numerous and, in many cases, nasty. Explosions follow, people die: from fire or electrocution. One particular incident was a train wreck, almost literally.
Age has weakened them, the years condemned them with corrosion and now America's gas pipes are leaking, and exploding, in ever increasing numbers, especially in New Jersey.
Victoria's Country Fire Authority (CFA) and the United Firefighters Union (UFU) are locked in a long-running dispute over the CFA's ability to provide the specialised services needed to rescue people trapped in collapsed trenches.
Despite rules and regulations, codes of practices, training schemes and long experience trench collapses with fatal or near-fatal consequences still occur all too frequently.
Being able to call up or go to a web site and get information on underground infrastructure before you start digging a hole is something we tend to take for granted in Australia - after all, the Dial Before You Dig service has been around for 25 years.
Pictured above (L to R) Dave Street, Business Development Manager for LinesearchbeforeUdig and Mike Guthrie, Performance Manager for Northumbrian Water.
Northumbrian Water Group has become the latest utility to join LinesearchbeforeUdig, the UK’s free to use, online enquiry portal for information on underground utility infrastructure.
It goes without saying that the dial-before-you-dig service is only as good as the data it holds about what is being dug into: if the horizontal and vertical positions of underground infrastructure are not accurately recorded dial-before-you-dig can, at worst, give diggers a false sense of security.
“A bar owner spoke of his disgust after he was forced to close his premises for an entire day last week, after workmen hit a gas pipe at Market Square.” So ran the report in Northern Ireland's Ulster Star newspaper.
Can you imagine being able to look down to the ground at your feet and 'see' every bit of buried infrastructure, see whether it's a power cable, gas pipe or a sewer, and how deep it is?
It was definitely a case of the cure being worse than the disease. The technician of a US gas supply company looking for a gas leak managed to puncture the underground gas line causing a much larger leak which resulted in an explosion that destroyed a club house, injured 17 people and caused $1.3m worth of damage.
Have you heard the term 'big data'? It's a rather inaccurate but often used term to describe the rapidly growing discipline of data analytics - bringing together multiple disparate sources of data and analysing these for new insights. And underground infrastructure is just source of data that is coming with the ambit of data analytics.
Mechanical excavators are wonderful pieces of engineering. They can chew through asphalt, be fitted with attachments that will break up concrete and, most importantly dig big holes in the ground very quickly.
If a picture is worth a thousand words then Western Power can successfully argue that when it comes to safety, a map is worth much more, not just for itself and its customers but for the utilities who are members of the national Dial Before You Dig service (DBYD).
The UK capital is suffering from a spate of underground explosions - caused mostly by water penetrating buried high voltage electrical infrastructure