2020 Virtual Content - 2021 Dates Coming Soon

SPAR – Surveying & Mapping – Subsurface Utility Mapping

Jun 04 2020
10:30 am - 12:00 pm

SPAR – Surveying & Mapping – Subsurface Utility Mapping

Track Name: Thursday 10:30 AM - 12:00 AM
Session Date: Jun 4 2020 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Lesson learned from 150 years ago in Boston help us to implement cloud-based tec

As one of the oldest American cities and the site of many important events during the country's founding, Boston's rich history gives it an obvious allure. But that history and culture isn't limited to what can be found above ground. Many of the large infrastructure projects completed between the late 1890's and the late 1920's in Massachusetts are still in use, providing vital energy, communication, water, and transportation systems for our growing communities. The preservation of this infrastructure and insights gleaned from the practices used to create it can provide us with valuable lessons in how to continue standards of excellence in a major development, even as we use emerging new technologies to do the work. Just as Boston's infrastructure has been preserved, so have many of the development drawings, archives, and prints from a forgotten era. While many cities commonly face missing or damaged documentation from vintage projects, Boston boasts a wealth of legacy documents that chronicle the ingenuity, hard work, and focus of the forefathers of development, engineering, and surveying. In some of the earliest examples of subsurface investigations we have, Boston engineers, designers and constructors working on the revolutionary 1890s subway system collaborated on subsurface investigations to uncover complex and aging facilities. Insights from the Boston Transit Commission's reports illustrate just how important it was for the team to understand the existing site conditions before completing the final design. One of the great challenges in subsurface utility mapping and underground damage prevention programs today is the lack of reliable, accurate data on which we can base project planning for subsurface investigations. The consequences of that go beyond delays and inconvenience - reports from the Common Ground Alliance reveal that underground excavation damages in the U.S. rose by 20% between 2016 and 2017 costing stakeholders at least $1.5 billion. Fortunately, there is good news. Advancements in survey and mapping instruments that work in unison with cloud-based solutions have enabled the digital documentation of new works by non-survey-based professionals such as engineers, inspectors, and contractors. Gathering data from numerous subsurface utility locating professionals can be challenging, but using Builterra's cloud-based solution the data can be processed and standardized for CAD and GIS formats; a remarkable advancement for today's practitioners on large and small projects. Further advancements in digital storage mean we can accomplish better, more thorough recordkeeping as well. Building information modeling (BIM) technology that is widely used by managers for 3D documentation of building projects can also be applied to underground environments. As decision-makers, owners, designers, and constructors move forward in their development projects, principles from the 1800s, like the importance of good documentation, still ring true. Our perspective is grounded in experience, and that experience tells us that best practices often involve blending traditional and established principles with innovative thinking.


Michael A Twohig

DGT Associates Inc

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