In October 2020, the Aii (Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure), put together a ‘Damage prevention report card’, rating states’ levels of success regarding the incorporation of everyday technology into their damage prevention laws. Despite a reality where every adult carries a camera, GPS, and messaging app in their front pockets, the field of damage prevention suffers from a lack of technology adoption. Therefore, most states have not yet incorporated the use of these tools in state law.
In 2017, PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) reported to Congress that the use of mapping technologies is able to reduce excavation damage incidents by as much as 67%. Still, to date no change has been made – no state has embedded technology into its law. Although several states have shown improvement, taking small strides toward better technology-enabled communication, advancement has been minimal. Resulting in a decade of 641 excavation damage incidents, costing over $445 million dollars. A sum that does not account for the injuries, economic harm, and inconvenience caused by the damage to cable, phone, broadband, water, sewer, and electric utility lines. The Aii believes that it is time that states swap archaic solutions with innovative technologies, which is why the organization has conducted this report.
The grade is comprised of three key components:
- Positive Response: The state requires a closed communication loop between the excavator and locato
To date – 24 states have positive response requirements that meet the Aii’s definition (California, Colorado, Ohio, and others), but only six have joined this list in the past four years.
- Shareability: The state requires a technology-based platform, accessible by all relevant parties, to share excavation site and locate information.
To date – only 13 states require a technology-based platform all relevant parties can share (California, Colorado, Florida, and others).
- Quality Control: Does the state require enhanced information to be shared between the facility owner, locator, excavator, and One-Call center so that all can view the ticket, photos, maps, or other data?
To date – unfortunately, only Colorado has updated its laws and regulations to require digital transmission of information for better quality control at the work site.
To conclude, despite the technology being accessible by the ‘every day joe’, current excavation damage laws, regulations, and practices are not nearly advanced as they should be. Most states do not require the use of available technology in their laws, such as electronic positive response, ticket status check systems, and quality control portals that allow the attachment of enhanced information. Although most states now have a smartphone application or locate ticket check system available, they are mainly voluntary programs not enforced by law. Thus, many states have not earned a higher rating in Aii’s report card, which they would have if certain practices leading to excavation site safety were mandated and enforced.
You can find the full report card here: