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Understanding The Pros And Cons Of Utility Mapping

Utility mapping is an activity that is used to help locate underground wires and piping safely. This is an essential part of the civil engineering process, it helps to save an extensive amount of time and money on accidental utility stikes that create delays as well as reparative work. When project planners hold an accurate utility map they are able to project costs on a much more accurate basis.


However, it must be said that there are a certain number of challenges that come with utility mapping. Surveyors have had years of problems in dealing with the accuracy of records as well as dealing with hidden objects that can make for a much more difficult of a task.


What Technologies Are Used In Utility Mapping?


Throughout the past few years, the Subsurface Utility Engineering have discovered unique ways of dealing with some of the many challenges that are associated with mapping and locating the underground utility infrastructure. Geophysical technology is being used in conjunction with non-technical means such as historical records as a way to understand subsurface infrastructure information as completely as possible.


There are various technologies at play, but some of the most common include:


Electromagnetic Induction (EMI)


This is an alternative to the highly popular Ground Penetrating Radar method, however, EMI uses electrical currents that are supplied via a transmitter to induce the primary magnetic field. The receiver is set to the correct frequency and the deflection of the magnetic field is identical which helps to locate any subsurface utilities. EMI is espcecially useful in areas where GPR is hindered by high-moisture soil, however, overlying metal objects can affect it.


Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)


GPR has been the go to method for utility mapping. This process will send out directional electromagnetic waves in the GHz and MHz frequency range and will use that signal return to help identify where any subspace utility is located.


Understanding The Benefits Of GPR For Utility Mapping


GPR technology has been proven to be highly accurate and is able to locate both non-metallic and metallic utilities. The vast majority of surveyors prefer GPR for utility mapping surveys due to its ability to:


Acquire data at a rapid pace


Operate at a low cost


Offer high resolution imagery


Unfortunately, GPR can be affected by moisture in the soil and oblique measurements. However, when GPR is used in conjunction with other technologies like radio detection it can help to offer a highly accurate mapping result.