Utilties

Augmented Reality and Public Works Emergency Planning: 3 Ways to Prepare for the Next Natural Disaster with AR

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Learn how our augmented reality visualizer, the Argis Lens, can be an effective tool in planning for the next natural disaster.

 By Alyssa Grant

As our climate shifts to greater extremes, natural disasters have increased in frequency. Floods, hurricanes, bomb cyclones, and tornadoes, including the recent ones that devastated Missouri, are the worst-case weather lottery that no one wants to win. Public works emergency planning is vital and being well-prepared before disaster strikes can save lives and prevent millions of dollars in damage. Many municipalities and counties, like Roanoke County, VA, are shifting to public-facing apps to keep the public informed about potential issues related to extreme weather. Augmented reality (AR) paired with GIS data can be an effective tool in ensuring your municipality and citizens are prepared well in advance.

1.     Quality-Check Your ArcGIS Data

Viewing ArcGIS data through our mobile augmented reality (AR) visualizer provides you with immediate, real-world context. When ArcGIS data is downloaded to our mobile app, the Argis Lens, users can easily visualize underground infrastructure and various flood scenarios. Looking at a 2D map requires translating two-dimensional data into a three-dimensional world. With the 3D visualization capabilities of the Lens, the work of translation is done for you, giving a clear picture of how GIS data exists in reality. The Lens allows you to double-check your data and see discrepancies between it and the 3D world in which we live. Use the Lens to confirm your GIS data’s accuracy so that your municipality can respond to emergencies with more precision.

 

2.     AR’s Utility in City Planning 

Yearly flooding is a way of life for many communities in the United States. As weather events continue to break historic records, areas vulnerable to flooding have expanded. Utilize the Argis Lens as part of your building planning to visualize different flooding scenarios. See with your own eyes, in the field, how 3, 6, or 12 feet of floodwater interacts with the topography and elevation in your city and make city planning choices that can withstand historic weather events. 

 

3.     AR’s Usefulness in the Aftermath

After a tornado, flood, or hurricane, visual landmarks can be obliterated and elevation altered. If you have proactively improved your GIS data’s quality with the Argis Lens, it can also help locate infrastructure that might otherwise be difficult to find because of terrain and landmark changes, for instance, a natural gas valve that needs to be closed to prevent a potential explosion, because natural disasters create scenarios where response time is of the essence. The Lens could also be used in assisting in determining the last known location of people or facilities that have been affected, especially when the physical landscape has been changed beyond recognition.

 In the aftermath of extreme weather, a multitude of dangerous situations are created. Manhole covers can dislodge in flooding, endangering anyone nearby trying to maneuver through flood waters. The technology of the Lens can allow first responders to quickly determine where that danger might be present so that citizens can be warned to keep clear of the area.

 

Be Prepared with AR

“Expect the best, prepare for the worst.” Give yourself the advantage in public works emergency planning. Don’t be caught off guard. Harness the visualizing power of AR and see your data in a new way. Bring your GIS data to life with the Argis Lens.

Recent CO811 Changes: Improving Excavation and Digging Safety in Colorado

Utility Notification Center of Colorado, CO811, an organization created to protect the underground infrastructure of the state and promote excavation and digging safety, has changes in effect for 2019. 

Electric lines, gas lines, cable lines, fluid pipelines—all are part of the complex underground world CO811 manages in partnership with utility owners. The CO811 call center is the point of contact for anyone who wishes to dig near or on public property. Anyone can call and request that underground assets be marked, a necessary step for any construction or maintenance project involving excavation. 

Once CO811 is notified, notifications are sent out to utility owners who might have underground utilities in the area. Then locators hired by each utility company come out and use different methods (mostly radio detection wands) to mark with either spray paint or flags where these underground assets are situated. This is a vital-- no one wants to accidentally hit a power line or a gas line. The Heather Gardens gas explosion in Aurora on November 16, 2018 demonstrates the tragic outcome that can occur during an accidental pipeline strike. This gas explosion, caused by workers striking a gas line while digging underground pathways, killed an 82- year-old woman who was a resident of the Heather Gardens senior community.

Accidents in the past have prompted the federal government to take a closer look at damage prevention procedures. According to a 2016 report on the protocols surrounding the Utility Notification Center of Colorado:

“The United States Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) conducted an adequacy evaluation of Colorado’s enforcement of its excavation damage prevention law, and determined that the enforcement is inadequate, which may eventually result in the withholding of federal funds from Colorado.” 

No doubt there is room for improvement, and without some changes, funding is on the line. 

Colorado took action in 2018 to address these issues with Senate Bill 18-167. On May 25 of 2018, Governor Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 18-167 into law that created a new commission, changed things up for Tier Two members, and changed things for Home Rule cities. 

Effective August 8, 2018, the Underground Damage Prevention Safety Commission was given the authority to review complaints and fine for infractions as defined by the new One Call Law. This is new. Until now Colorado has not had the authority to fine anybody. This will hopefully incentivize utility owners, locators and diggers to pay better attention to safety protocols. The commission will also have the ability to review complaints. 

What does this bill mean for Tier Two members? Tier Two members have until January 1, 2021 to convert their membership status to Tier One and update their underground facility registration with CO811. Conversion is mandatory on January 1, 2019. 

What’s different for Home Rule cities such as Aurora or Colorado Springs and the Safety Commission? Home Rule cities can opt out of the safety commission, but if they do then they need to create their own enforcement commissions. These enforcement commissions need to effectively help mitigate the risks involved with digging. 

The new bill will help promote excavation and digging safety as well as help to preserve Colorado’s infrastructure. Tier Two members converting to Tier Ones, the creation of the commission, the establishment of a penalty plan, and the ability to review complaints are steps in the right direction to improve the safety and surrounding procedures for all parties involved in the digging process. 

If you are GIS manager and want to know how we can assist you in improving your GIS data management, please contact us. Argis Solutions is the leading company for connecting GIS data with augmented reality, and we want to help you. 

 

Colorado | PHMSA. 2018. Colorado | PHMSA. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/safety-awareness/pipeline/colorado. [Accessed 08 November 2018]. 

Medium. 2018. A Look at Six Recent Oil and Gas Disasters in Colorado. [ONLINE] Available at: https://medium.com/the-colorado-lookout/a-look-at-five-recent-oil-and-gas-disasters-in-colorado-1ae0e3b8dee4. [Accessed 04 November 2018]. 

CO811. 2018. SENATE BILL 18-167 Signed MAY 25, 2018 - CO811. [ONLINE] Available at: http://colorado811.org/senate-bill-18-167-to-be-signed-may-18-2018/. [Accessed 04 November 2018].