What Every Business Needs To Know About Subterranean Utility Networks

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Emily Burn

As a result of the rising rate of urbanization, businesses have begun to rely on subterranean utility networks that are both more sophisticated and larger in scale. It may come as a surprise to you to learn that utility surveying has been around since the turn of the 20th century. Underground utility locating and mapping, ground penetrating radar (GPR), and buried utility detection are all examples of how important utility surveying has become in the process of identifying and mapping subterranean infrastructure.

In the beginning, humans employed electromagnetic locators, which were the very first instrument ever developed for the purpose of locating the complex network of pipes and wires that lay buried beneath the earth. Since its first examination, the theory of EM field detection has not undergone any significant changes.

Since its invention in the 1970s, the electromagnetic (EM) locator has seen significant development. In the past, it had a needle-based analogue display, but as technology has advanced, new EM locators have digital displays and are more effective, small, and user-friendly. It is now also capable of providing essential data such as the signal’s directional information, current, and intensity.


In the early days of utility locating services, surveying was done with the assistance of a handful of handy instruments and the only electromagnetic (EM) locator that was available on the market at the time. Because fiber optics weren’t as widely used at the time, utility locators could only pinpoint metallic infrastructure. In a similar vein, the Global Positioning System (GPS) technology was not extensively used since it was expensive and even its stations were far apart. The information on the placement of subsurface utilities was scaled on paper.

In the past, the company that provided utility location services had straightforward guidelines, which included the need to lift and trace every conceivable object in order to obtain the necessary data and eliminate any possibility for error. These are, and will continue to be, the most important aspects of every underground utility locating survey you conduct. Although the philosophy and the mechanism of the locator have remained the same throughout the years, the locator itself has evolved over time.

A mobile GPR survey, also known as ground-penetrating radar systems, are new pieces of technology that were developed in the early 1990s. These radar systems can look through the ground to the surface below. The usage of utility locators is finished here at this point in the process. However, in order to obtain the data that is both the most accurate and the most up to date, many companies that provide utility locating services still choose to employ both GPR and cable locators.


The process of locating utilities and conducting surveys is becoming more challenging with each passing day as a result of the high pace of development. We have gone a very far way in a very short amount of time, having transitioned from physical copies to digital data. Not only that, but GPS and other GNSS systems are no longer in use. Instead, point cloud data is merged with 3D modelling of the subterranean utilities in order to determine the precise location of the utilities.

These days, providers of utility location services employ GPR and electromagnetic locators to offer an integrated solution for locating, gathering, and mapping data. This is done with the intention of saving customers time and money. The very best element is that the data is quickly delivered in accordance with the client’s specifications.


Following the 10 below-mentioned methods, all of which have been tried and proven over the course of the past four decades, is the golden rule for achieving success in the process of discovering and surveying subterranean utilities. First, let’s have a look at:

Ensure that your personnel has the necessary expertise and has gone through the necessary training in order to carry out the underground utility locating and survey in a professional manner that goes above and beyond the requirements of the customer.

Make sure the customer provides a written specification of their requirements and expectations.

Get yourself ready. Establish communication with both your client and other businesses in order to collect and comprehend all of the regulatory information, such as legends, scale, clarity, and so on.

In order to confirm your results, you should collect topographical survey data.

First, carry out an initial examination, and then, using the statutory documents as a guide, conduct a visual assessment. Examine ancient documents, surface features, and overhead wires before making use of any locators, and map the relevant aspects of the environment accordingly.

Conduct the electromagnetic survey in a systematic manner.

Ensure that your GPR device is positioned appropriately. Keep in mind that this is not a replacement for the cable finder because it is also subject to the laws and principles of physics and can have an effect on performance.

Make use of a reliable marking system that is straightforward in its explanation and conforms to the specifications.

When gathering your data, choose a strategy that is effective, precise, and thorough, and don’t forget to take photos and videos for backup.

Your customers are now able to get the info you have prepared for them.


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