20 Dec In coming years, the construction industry must use technology to reduce costs while increasing safety of infrastructure projects.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE), our nation’s infrastructure earned a C- in 2021. While this is the first time in 20 years that U.S. infrastructure risen above a D, such low grades continue to impede national economic growth and detract from the health and safety of our society.
After years of talking about infrastructure, our federal government responded in November 2021 by enacting the U.S. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which will provide $1.2 trillion to fund massive improvements and additions to the nation’s infrastructure. As the public and private sectors begin to plan for the coming wave of new infrastructure projects, they must quickly develop improved processes and tools to ensure that projects are completed efficiently and safely.
One area that historically yields inefficiencies and cost overruns is associated with the damage underground utilities often incur during construction. In its DIRT Annual Report for 2020 https://commongroundalliance.com/Portals/0/2020%20DIRT%20Report_09.29.2021_Final4.pdf?ver=2021-11-03-143123-490 , the Common Ground Alliance estimated the annual societal cost of damage to buried utilities in the U.S. to be approximately $30 billion. This estimate includes direct costs (e.g., facility repair) and indirect costs (e.g., property damage, project delays, business income loss, and medical bills), but fails to account for environmental damage.
One of the root causes of damage caused by “strikes” to underground utilities is the lack of accurate underground maps. These utilities consist of a varied and dense array of pipes and cables, including drain, water, natural gas, oil, internet, sanitary and storm sewers, cable television, traffic signal, fiber optic, electric power, process piping, and steam. Surveyors, planners, designers, and contractors typically begin by attempting to locate existing underground infrastructure so that the construction crew knows what to avoid while digging. They contact the various utilities involved and cobble together whatever existing maps they can find. Many maps are out-of-date or inaccurate; most are two dimensional and lack depth information. Consequently, in the U.S., an underground utility line is damaged at an astonishing rate of about once every six minutes.
The Prezerv team is tackling this very problem. We make use of AI and nondestructive technologies, such as ground-penetrating radar (GPR), to efficiently develop accurate underground 3D maps.
Prezerv: preventing underground accidents so our above-ground communities thrive.