Excavation continues to be a leading cause of damage to underground facilities in the United States. Excavation damage was cited as the cause in 20% of the significant pipeline incidents in 2007. Effective damage prevention programs are necessary to protect underground facilities and to ensure public health and safety, environmental protection and continuity of vital services. Central to all damage prevention efforts is effective communication of accurate and timely information among excavators, one-call centers and underground facility operators. In 2005, the Commonwealth of Virginia, federal government, industry and other key stakeholders in the U.S. initiated a pilot project to enhance the one-call damage prevention process through the use of global positioning system (GPS) technology. Virginia was chosen as the location for the Project due to its mature, active and inclusive damage prevention program. Additionally, coincident with the implementation of the Pilot Project, Virginia’s one-call center developed and implemented enhanced mapping capabilities that complemented the Project technology. Certainly, the potential for application of the technology in all states was a driving consideration throughout the Project. Phase I of the Virginia Pilot Project, completed in December 2007, focused on improving the locational accuracy of facility locate requests submitted by excavators to the one-call center. This was achieved by the development and use of electronic white-lining. The Project Team combined existing cell phone, Internet and GPS receiver technologies with the development of specific software applications and enhanced one-call processes. Project data indicate significant improvements were achieved in one-call process costs and efficiencies. These improvements enhance the benefits of such programs to all stakeholders and significantly improve underground facility safety. This paper describes the results from Phase I and the minimum requirements for implementing the technology. The results will be shared and promoted nationwide to encourage other one-call centers to consider incorporating the processes. The paper also describes the status of subsequent, related phases of the Pilot Project. Phase II will involve the application of GPS technology to locating instruments and the development of electronic locator manifests. Phase III will involve the integration of GPS and mapping technologies on excavating equipment. Finally, the paper describes the relevance to other damage prevention programs in the U.S. and other countries.

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