The Crisis of Unmapped Utilities feat. Geoff Zeiss

Ep. 6 |
January 13, 2022

There are few people in the world who know geospatial mapping and utilities better than Geoff Zeiss, our sixth guest on the 4M Utility Strategy Podcast.

Our latest podcast is a mile-a-minute masterclass on the state of utility locating, the future of utility mapping, and the issues we need to tackle as an industry.

Geoff talks about documentation standards in various countries and the clear added value demonstrated by centralized national record systems.

He also explains why that progress would be difficult to achieve in North America through governmental initiatives alone, leaving it up to the industry to propose a viable and affordable solution that lives up to the challenge of keeping our society in good service.

Geoff Zeiss has more than 20 years experience in the geospatial software industry and 15 years experience developing enterprise geospatial solutions for the utilities, communications, and public works industries.

His particular interests include the convergence of BIM, CAD, geospatial, and 3D.

In recognition of his efforts to evangelize geospatial in vertical industries such as utilities and construction, Geoff received the Geospatial Ambassador Award at Geospatial World Forum 2014.

Currently Geoff is Principal at Between the Poles, a thought leadership consulting firm.

From 2001 to 2012 Geoff was Director of Utility Industry Program at Autodesk Inc, where he was responsible for thought leadership for the utility industry program.

From 1999 to 2001 he was Director of Enterprise Software Development at Autodesk.

Prior to Autodesk Geoff was Director of Product Development at VISION* Solutions. VISION* Solutions is credited with pioneering relational spatial data management, CAD/GIS integration, and long transactions (data versioning) in the utility, communications, and public works industries.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Key Takeaways

Utility locating is more dangerous than flying in an airplane.

It’s simply unacceptable that our workers have to risk physical harm to maintain our infrastructure. Contractors shouldn't have to run the risk of striking a utility that doesn't appear on the plans or ground markings they are given. Utility locators shouldn't have to walk for miles in heavy traffic to pinpoint utilities that could have been GIS-located upon installation or mapped remotely. We have to change the way we map our infrastructure, because the risks are too big and the solutions are too accessible to prevent them.


The biggest problems are caused by the utilities no one is looking for.

The utility companies aren't looking for utilities they don't own. The One-Call teams aren't looking for utilities that they don't know are there. And these days, you might even find active fiber optic cables inside “abandoned” or “unowned” pipelines. Even with the best individual efforts to locate utilities properly, this is a recipe for disaster. We need to work together as an industry to address the shortcomings of past documentation standards.


Co-hosts: David Horesh (Director of Marketing) and Ophir Wainer (Director of North American Business Development)

Just in case you missed it, in our previous podcast we had a fantastic talk with Gary Huffman on how utilities can serve customers smarter, cheaper, and more reliably.

And stay tuned! On our next utility strategy podcast, we're hosting Douglas Gransberg!

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