Dial Before You Dig has developed a data collection and reporting tool, the Infrastructure Damage Reporting System (IDRS), which is designed to build a comprehensive picture in relation to damage incidents associated with excavation activities nationally.

Since its inception in 2013, over 125,000 incidents have been reported across the telecommunications, power, water and gas sectors.

This is now providing valuable insights into the nature and causes of incidents where infrastructure is damaged.

IDRS is populated by Dial Before You Dig asset owning members, providing accurate and comprehensive data for reporting information about damages that occur to their assets.

It is simple to use and the analysed results are presented in a comprehensive, customisable, on-demand report which allows members to better understand where, how and why these damages are occurring.

Secure and confidential

IDRS is set up to ensure members’ data is kept confidential on secure Australian-hosted servers, allowing them to view their respective data securely with the ability to compare it against national trends.

It enables asset damage data to be viewed within a broader context (e.g. individual incidents can be evaluated against trends over time and wider regional views), resulting in more meaningful insights and conclusions.

Education and damage reduction

Not only has IDRS aided the understanding of what’s happening to assets, it has been a valuable tool for utilities and asset owners in their damage reduction initiatives, including:

    • Highlighting specific areas for damage prevention stakeholders to focus their limited resources to achieve the greatest results
    • Awareness sessions, education and training targeted to specific groups
    • Increasing requests for location services by local contractors and excavators
    • Improving the identification of underground assets among locating professionals through best practices education and training
    • Improving safe excavation practices

Today, IDRS is used to collate and report on both underground and above ground asset incidents and enables users to analyse the cause of these incidents. Dial Before You Dig and its members can use these results to drive improvements in their operations and develop programs that will help avoid future incidents.

Any damage to an infrastructure service provider’s asset has an impact on the community whether it is power, gas, telecommunications, water, etc. Damages can have safety, economic and environmental impacts for all concerned; preventing one incident from occurring can, in many situations, prevent injury or fatal outcomes.

As the volume of historical data increases over time, the benefits to the community and the economy through fewer disruptions to vital services will continue to grow. Being able to quantify the impact of asset damage incidents and finding ways to reduce these disruptions is the true value of this tool to the Australian economy.

Case Study – Ergon Energy (DBYD Queensland member)

Ergon Energy (now combined with Energex to become Energy Queensland) saw the opportunity in 2014 to capture not only underground asset damage incident data but also above ground assets incident data.

At that time, Ergon Energy was responsible for delivering power to 97 per cent of Queensland and had a wide-ranging network consisting of over one million poles, approximately 160,000km of overhead conductor and 7,000km of underground network.

With a large volume of above ground infrastructure, these assets were at a higher rate of contact with third parties than underground assets.

Ergon Energy has produced customised monthly statistical and spatial reports on business related metrics such as:

    • Restoral costs
    • Number of hours to rectify
    • Number of customers impacted
    • Customer downtime

To date, Ergon Energy has uploaded ten years of asset damage data into IDRS and continues to provide ongoing regular monthly updates.

In Ergon Energy’s case, it has refined its reporting requirements to align directly with its safety awareness strategies, in turn allowing it to focus on key safety messages to the wider community around engagement, education and enablement.

Case Study – SA Water (DBYD South Australia member)

An opportunity was recognised during 2015 to utilise and develop IDRS for SA Water. The aim was to enable local data management and reporting, as well as national reporting with a focus on damage caused by SA Water construction and operational activities.

In this case, the member was focused on the damage caused by its own internal and external workforces on both its own and other members’ assets during its Capital Delivery construction program across the state.

Key attributes include:

    • Consistency of data capture based around common occurrence, cause and consequence prompts
    • Data management is extended through supply chain with site-based reporting (via mobile application), office-based reporting or validation via web browser interface and data verification with security levels for users
    • Data management allows for the front-end user (initiating constructor) to manage their own data sets and have automated, self-managed reporting
    • Verification and consistent reporting (from common data sets) can extend through SA Water to National Dial Before You Dig level within the same system

IDRS was rolled out to SA Water’s primary infrastructure delivery partners and internal workforce.

Data input and management can be used from a web-based office environment or via a browser connection to IDRS, and for field use in real time using mobile devices.

Customised data fields were created in IDRS for SA Water’s reporting requirements and once enough data was captured, self-generating statistical and spatial report charts were able to be produced.

SA Water produces a regular Essential Services & Excavation Report which is distributed to its management teams.

Delivery partners are also able to self-generate individual reports for their management teams, all from the same data sets.

The data and information generated is providing additional intelligence by quantification of the risks and opportunities for, and to, SA Water and its delivery partners, supply chain, fellow service providers and Dial Before You Dig collective state customers.

Intelligence benefits IDRS is providing include opportunities to deliver new strategies to improve customer service impact, improved asset information and reduced operational risks.

In addition, it has enabled wider stakeholder engagement and service provider collaboration, targeted workforce education and quantification of associated (community) costs, as well as environmental, public health and safety risk reduction.

Dial Before You Dig continues to encourage more of its members to share information on IDRS. Similar international initiatives have delivered encouraging reports as the quantity and quality of information received continues to improve.

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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