Utility As-Built Data: Potential Savings of $500 Million Annually in the U.S.

The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recently released a report prepared by a team led by our own Phil Meis. The report, An Impact and Value Analysis of Requiring Geospatial Locations for Utility Installation As-Builts, illustrates the current practices within State Transportation Agencies and their collection of georeferenced as-built utility data within their right-of-way. The report also looked into the real and perceived barriers to collecting georeferenced as-built utility data for both utility companies and right-of-way managers.

For many state agencies, utility infrastructure data has not been documented in a consistent, geospatially accurate and exchangeable format. This accepted practice however leads to what some have often described as a utility data conundrum. This conundrum however manifests itself into real issues that impact project delivery, the traveling public and businesses and communities that are adversely affected by delays during construction. Not having standardized and quantified utility data can often lead to unnecessary decisions to relocate utilities where having true as-built data will allow decision maker to make more informed decisions about whether a utility conflict can be designed around or must be relocated. The uninformed decisions lead to increased costs to utility owners which eventually get passed down to the consumer. In addition not having accurate georeferenced utility data in the right-of-way can lead to serious accidents, injuries and deaths.

The research team contacted state right-of-way managers during the annual American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials (AASHTO) in the spring of 2019. From these discussion the team was able to conduct literature reviews of state publications regarding data collection practices and follow up and conducted follow up interviews with state agencies and utility companies.

Based on the results of the interviews and literature review it is estimated that over $500 Million dollars could be saved annually in the U.S. through damage prevention and reducing the cost and scope of conducting Subsurface Utility Investigations to ASCE standards to provide engineers with the level of data needed to make informed decisions about utility conflicts.

The top three barriers to collecting and eventually sharing accurate as-built data were:

  • Proprietary Information
  • Resources for Collecting Data
  • Homeland Security Act Infringements

GEO.works’ online permitting system is or can be integrated with a secure 3D utility data repository to manage and store these data based on ASCE’s new as-built or as-installed standard. Workflows and required attributes based on the standard can be configured and customized to meet the requirements of your agency. The Montana Departement of Transportation and over 50 agenices in Europe have adopted GEO.works’ utility permitting system. The system was designed primarily for utility permits however it is highly configurable and customizable and offers a module based installations to match your requirements. The system has been used to meet other permitting requiremetns such as outdoor restaurant permits and oversize and overweight permits. GEO.works is a web-based permitting and GIS system built on open standards and allows the managment, storage, updating and modeling of utility data.

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