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Integration of Digital Technologies into Underground Utility Asset Management

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Document pages: 26 pages

Abstract: Installation, detection, maintenance, mapping, and management ofunderground utility assets present challenges to owners, engineers andcontractors. Industry-wide practices include the use of geophysical and similartechnologies to determine depth and location, and 2D as-built plans integratedwith GIS databases for information management. The feasibility of incorporating3D BIM models of the subsurface to replace the 2D plans to improvevisualization and data management is examined in this paper. Obtaining anaccurate image of the underground infrastructure would help minimize excavationaccidents due to equipment-utility collisions and prevent property damage.Further, the inclusion of automated data collection and sharing featuresrealized through BIM technology can enhance operations of smart cities. Theresearch methodology consists of a state-of-the-art review of the currentunderground utility management systems, combined with statistical analysis ofsurvey responses received from utility providers and one-call centers in theU.S. Three categories of utility practices are identified based on the level ofdigital technology integration. It is found that a vast majority of utilityfirms have adopted GIS databases with 2D plans, depth and other assetinformation, while a smaller percentage of providers have achieved full GIS-BIMintegration, incorporating a wide range ofasset data. Future progress on broader implementation appears to beconstrained by the digital literacy of personnel and high costs of technology acquisition and application. A three-step frameworkfor converting 2D plans to 3D BIM models is also presented and discussed. Theprocess model proposed for this purpose allows the utilization of commerciallyavailable software with minimal need for additional coding.

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