Page 13 - West Virgina 811 Magazine 2021 Issue 2
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ween GIS and Mapping?
fit it into their busy schedules. I know some of you old guys (like me) are saying that maps have worked just fine for a hundred years and “that’s good enough for me to do my job.” I get
it. Of course, in 1849 a covered wagon was better than walking from Joplin, Missouri to Sutter’s Mill but if you were to make the same journey today, you wouldn’t expect to see many such wagons on the highways. The truth of the matter is that GIS has been around a long time. Efforts in the late 1970’s and 1980’s were not widely successful, in part because the original use of this technology was expensive. Additionally, long range benefits were projected, but rarely realized, owing to the limitations of the available technology. That is definitely changing. You may remember the excitement of One Call systems in the early days of relational databases, digitized maps and getting away from paper maps into a spatial environment whether members were ready or not.
All of us in this industry know the value of accurate land base and facility maps. Technology is in place to make
By Roger Cox
President, ACTS Now, Inc.
both maps a reality. What we need is a file system to house all the data that we have. In the past we’ve used everything from the memories of the retired folks who knew where most everything underground was, then card files and handwritten notes on maps that were later transferred to an electronic file. The GIS system is a living repository
of all things data for your system. Naturally, the GIS system uses maps as the basis for all things going forward but integrates many kinds of data
layers using spatial locations to tie back into the system. The system can be customized to your specific needs. An example would be, “when do I need to replace the water line between 2nd and 3rd Street because it has exceeded the threshold for reliability?” You establish the parameters, correctly identify assets, record new installations and repairs (all of which you already do somewhere) and the GIS system can then feed you information necessary to help you manage your operation, remind you
of potential risks and help you make better and informed decisions, whether it is an operational or budgetary issue.
I think in the past, one of the selling points I often heard was “move your assets (including maps) into a GIS system and by doing so, you’ll make
it easier for the 811 system to send accurate ticket information to you.” That’s important! But frankly that is just a byproduct of why you should
be interested in finding the best system for your operation. And the most important reason to move to
GIS is that it makes it easier for you
to keep up with your assets that you are responsible for everyday and that the data (and maps) will be there after you and I are gone. The next manager and your system will be in your debt. Create a legacy!
After talking to my friend who has the unique ability to make technical things less technical, I’m even more excited about the role GIS will play in our industry in the upcoming years.
Just think about it and see what you can do!
2021, Issue 2
West Virginia 811 • 11

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