Connect the dots is a puzzle building activity containing a sequence of numbered dots, letters or other symbols to reveal an object by drawing lines between the dots.
Locators connect dots (locate marks) to build accurate depictions of underground infrastructure. Unfortunately, the exact location(s), type(s) and number of many facilities have been (and continue to be) inaccurately documented which presents unique challenges for locators to ensure that all the dots are accurately connected.
Underground facilities exist almost everywhere and may twist and turn in many configurations or patterns. Trying to connect the dots using inaccurate facility records, inadequate equipment or insufficient training is clearly problematic.
Placing a locate request to a notification service (one-call centre) does not guarantee that all buried facilities at a site will be located. A low-cost, easy and quick-to-use tool to identify all buried facilities at a work site does not exist.
Ground disturbers often discover unknown facilities during construction which can put people, property and the environment at risk, and cause major delays leading to project cost overruns.
Although locating technologies continue to improve, it is unlikely that a single technology will ever be developed to locate and characterize all facilities for all site conditions. Locators with limited knowledge are not conducive to effective damage prevention management. However, project owners can mitigate facility related challenges by integrating policies and procedures that require adequate qualification and training in the proper use of the equipment, acceptable pay scales to retain a qualified workforce, and enough time for proper operation and locating procedures. Damage prevention stakeholders continue to report that “locating and marking practices are not sufficient”. Clearly inefficient education and training is the root cause of many facility damages.
Damage prevention stakeholders must share in the responsibility of connecting the dots by ensuring locators have proper (certified or industry-endorsed) training that verifies their knowledge and skills.