5 Mistakes In Utility Mapping that Airborne GPR could have prevented them

Integrated Systems
Picture source: www.seattletimes.com
March 24, 2023

Are you getting ready to take on a big construction or excavation project? There's one really important step you can't forget about: utility mapping. This means figuring out where all the underground utilities, like gas lines, water pipes, and communication lines, are located, so you don't accidentally damage them and end up with a huge mess on your hands.

But watch out! There are 5 common mistakes that people make when doing utility mapping, so it's important to be aware of them.

Let's Talk About Those Mistakes And Make Sure You Have All The Info You Need To Get The Job Done Right!

1. Not Conducting a Comprehensive Survey: Utility mapping involves locating all underground utilities, including gas, electric, water, and telecommunications lines. One of the most common mistakes is not conducting a comprehensive survey and missing some utilities, which can lead to serious safety hazards and unexpected delays during construction. For instance, in 2015, a gas leak occurred in a Seattle suburb during construction work. The leak was caused by a contractor who struck an unmarked gas line while digging, resulting in an explosion that destroyed several buildings and injured several people. The cause of the accident was traced to inaccurate utility mapping, which failed to identify the location of the gas line.

Source: www.seattletimes.com

2. Relying on Outdated or Inaccurate Information: Another mistake is relying on outdated or inaccurate information about the location of utilities. Utility maps can become outdated quickly, particularly in urban areas where new utilities are constantly being added or updated. Using outdated maps can lead to damaging existing utilities or missing new ones. That was the case in 2019, when a water main break occurred in a residential area in California, flooding several homes and causing extensive damage. The cause of the break was found to be due to construction work that damaged the water main, as the contractors did not have accurate information on the depth of the main.

Source: www.scvnews.com

3. Not Using the Right Technology: There are various technologies that can be used to map utilities, such as ground-penetrating radar, electromagnetic locators, and utility locators. Using the wrong technology or not using any technology at all can result in inaccurate mapping. In 2020, a construction crew in Florida hit a natural gas pipeline, causing an explosion that injured several workers. The cause of the accident was traced to inaccurate utility mapping, which failed to accurately identify the location of the gas pipeline.

4. Failing to Account for Depth: The depth of underground utilities can vary, and failing to account for this can result in inaccurate mapping. This can be particularly problematic in areas with multiple layers of utilities or in areas where the ground is not level. Five years ago, a utility company in the UK was fined after it was found to have relied on outdated utility maps while excavating for gas pipelines. The company had failed to update the maps and did not conduct a comprehensive survey, resulting in inaccurate mapping and damage to existing utilities.

5. Lack of Communication: Lastly, a lack of communication between utility mapping teams and other construction teams can result in inaccurate mapping. Communication is crucial to ensure that all teams are aware of the location and depth of utilities and can avoid damaging them during construction. In 2016, a construction crew in California hit an electrical line while digging, causing a power outage in the surrounding area. The cause of the accident was traced to inadequate communication between the utility mapping team and the construction crew, who were not aware of the location and depth of the electrical line.

Why Airborne GPR Should Be Considered As A Preventive Measure Against These And Other Mistakes.

Utility mapping is a crucial process for any construction or excavation project, but common mistakes can occur. These include not conducting a comprehensive survey, relying on outdated or inaccurate information, not using the right technology, failing to account for depth, and a lack of communication between teams.

To prevent these mistakes, consider using  airborne ground penetrating radar technology (GPR), which can provide more accurate and comprehensive utility mapping, identify a wide range of subsurface features, and reduce the risk of damage to underground utilities during construction work.

Here Are Just A Few Of The Benefits Of Using Airborne GPR:

• Drone-mounted GPR systems can access sites that are typically very difficult, dangerous, or impossible to do with traditional ground-based methods.

• Survey time is much faster with a drone using pre-programmed automated missions. The drone is able to perform the survey grids much faster than traditional methods.

• Survey accuracy is increased by utilizing the drone's GPS signal. Each survey line is perfectly straight and evenly spaced out, whereas traditional methods are much less accurate.

• Drones can perform value-added services on-site and gather additional data useful for data interpretation, such as magnetometry, imaging, and ortho-mosaic mapping. Drones can also be equipped with various other sensors, such as methane detectors, thermal cameras, LiDAR mapping sensors, etc.

It can also cover large areas quickly and efficiently, making it a valuable addition to any utility mapping process.

Ask Experts For The Best Advice

SPH Engineering is a leading provider of drone-based GPR solutions that can help you map underground utilities with greater accuracy and efficiency. Our team of experts can help you identify the best solution for your specific project needs and guide you through the entire utility mapping process. If you're interested in learning more about how our airborne GPR solutions can benefit your project, we invite you to schedule a call with one of our experts today.

Contact us to learn more about Utility Mapping with Airborne GPR!

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