Scalable Integration of Geospatial Technologies for 3D Utility Locating and Mapping
Over a past century, the majority of our critical infrastructure has been buried often with little or no as-built location documentation. As we plan to renew and rebuild our decaying infrastructure and facilities, it is more difficult than ever to map the underground in our busy thorough. One of the greatest challenges facing any design team today is how to map the underground environment with the same Standard of Care and precision as the above ground built environment. While many assume that the national “One Call” systems in each state play an important role in mapping utilities it is frequently misunderstood that the One Call System was only intended to perform a Damage Prevention Role and have little or no role in mapping the underground for designers. For the past 30 years, Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) professionals have provided an engineering discipline dedicated to locating and mapping the buried facilities and it has been proven to be one of the safest methods to locate our utility lines both on public and privately funded projects. However, for the past 3 decades SUE services has been a boots-on-the-ground locating and mapping service which is quickly becoming incompatible with worker Health and Safety Concerns and tighter survey budgets. With the advent of modern mobile Lidar systems, the future of 3D mapping has been clear; integrate all the above and below ground remote sensing systems into a single mapping platform.
Today however the combination of 3D Laser Scanning technologies, 3D underground imaging and multiple geophysical technologies combined with 3D software platforms make it possible for designers to acquire high-value, true three dimensional electronic files in the planning stages of a project. With design teams moving to BIM models the need to capture large data sets in 3D early in a project design cycle is critical. The lack of accurate underground utility information exposes project owners and designers to great intangible risks and only a high speed mobile 3D data collection program can identify these risks early in the design stage. Failures to obtain this high value data in the early stages of projects in Las Angeles 405 highway project and Sydney Australia’s Light Rail project has confirmed that the risk can be in the tens of millions of dollars when projects teams use poor and inadequate subsurface information early on in a project design. Merging traditional SUE technology with GPS, Laser Scanning and Multi-Spectral technologies through applications software such as AutoCAD Civil 3D will not only open a new era in project planning and design but close the gap in the Damage Prevention Process for underground stakeholders and save lives by preventing accidents. Identifying failing facilities, water and sewer line breaks, potential sinkholes is now possible through the continuous mapping and detection with a 3D Mobile Mapping Platform. These platforms become economically sustainable investments when the data is used to update assets owners GIS databases.
This paper will illustrate the advent of the new Geospatial sector dedicated to providing 3D mobile mapping platforms of the future.