AR

Addressing Aging Infrastructure: Make AR Part of Your Solution

GIS data shown through augmented reality technology can help communicate discrepancies during the remediation process for upgrading underground infrastructure. 

By Alyssa Grant 

The Flint water crisis highlights the consequences of aging underground infrastructure and the deeply negative impact it can have on a community. Remediation can be a daunting, complex process. The remediation efforts to replace Flint’s lead and galvanized steel pipes with copper piping will be winding down by the end of the year. As of September 2018, 15,031 pipes have been excavated and 7,233 pipes have been identified as requiring replacement, underlining the scope of this headline-making water utility remediation project. 

Flint is not alone—aging underground infrastructure is a nationwide issue. The 2017 Infrastructure Report Card gives America’s drinking water a “D,” communicating that communities across the country are in dire need of water pipeline upgrades. 

Outdated natural gas pipelines are another concern. Old pipelines can leak, damaging the environment, even resulting in explosions causing property damage and fatalities, like the Merrimack Valley gas explosions on September 13, 2018 that resulted in 80 fires and one death. 

Updating aging utilities can be a complicated task.  Gregory Korte’s investigation on the state of our nation’s natural gas pipelines for USA Today revealed that the aging gas pipelines in Merrimack Valley were acknowledged to be a challenge to remediate:

“. . . Columbia Gas warned state regulators that replacing pipes in places like Lawrence would be difficult. The pipelines were in densely populated areas dominated by paved surfaces. They're intertwined with other utilities in crowded rights of way. " 

Unfortunately, the explosions occurred before improvements could be fully addressed. The costs related to the resulting damage could reach $1 billion

The complexities of underground infrastructure and the delicate excavation that can be involved in remediation underline the need for a sophisticated way to view and share mapping data. Some companies and municipalities are finding that augmented reality technology meets that need. 

What is augmented reality (AR)? This technology interposes computer-generated images in a real-world setting. Imagine being able to see GIS data through a cell phone camera—a scene you might see through the camera’s eye with AR could be a sewer line below a sidewalk intersected by a natural gas pipeline that crosses underneath an adjacent roadway. 

With the Argis Lens, a mobile AR application, that imagined scene is reality. The Lens quickly visually communicates what lies beneath the ground because a picture is worth a thousand words, especially when the complex GIS data of water or natural gas pipelines and sewer or stormwater systems are involved. The Argis Lens dynamically translates GIS data into AR imagery on mobile iOS devices.  

Using AR, underground infrastructure stakeholders can project their GIS data on new job sites to show foremen and construction crews where underground assets are located in real time. In addition, with the Lens, they can confirm that all assets are marked appropriately before excavation begins. Leveraging this technology, these companies are seeing a new level of collaboration between their asset protection teams and contractors because they are using AR to communicate high-risk areas where particular care needs to be taken before digging.

Cities, pipeline, and utility companies can all benefit from increased productivity on the job site, improved communication, and data quality confirmation. As infrastructure below the ground continues to deteriorate and become obsolete, proactive stakeholders with underground assets will turn to new technology, such as the Argis Lens, for more effective solutions as they upgrade and improve what is hidden.

ArcGIS and CAD Featured on Esri

ArcGIS and CAD Featured on Esri

Argis Solutions recent work with Silver Lake Construction Company has been highlighted in depth by Chris Andrews on Esri’s ArcGIS blog. Andrews recognizes the value augmented reality (AR) adds to GIS data, noting: 

 “As a product manager driving 3D, BIM, and other related software efforts at Esri, I’m always looking for applications of geospatial technology that can improve the lives of real users.  We get asked about AR a ton and whether through partner apps, such as Argis Solutions, or through development using our ArcGIS Runtime SDKs, it’s great to be able to report that real partners and customers are building AR applications that are transforming the experience of GIS in the field.  I expect to see much more like this in the future.”

2-Dimensional vs Augmented Reality: What's Next for the Digital Map

2-Dimensional vs Augmented Reality: What's Next for the Digital Map

Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.  The composite view of AR brings that necessary connection between maps and the real world. It is the missing link to a seamless user experience. Users can make better decisions faster because they can immediately interpret their data in context with the world it is intended to represent. 

Practical Application of AR

Practical Application of AR

Argis Solutions is the most practical application of AR available in today's market with expert interpretation of geospatial symbology and application. It is one of those cutting edge technologies that can be shared with today's workforce now and make a major difference in how that team communicates and interprets how the data looks in the real world. 

Augmented Reality Meets Utility Visualization

By Ander Pierce 

A variety of fallouts can precipitate from a damaged infrastructure during excavation: sinkholes from water drainage; suspension of utilities from internet, phone, electric, and gas companies; environmental fallout from sewage or oil; or an explosion caused when a spark hits a damaged gas line. These kinds of accidents cost facility owners hundreds of thousands if not millions in clean-up and damages. Considering the costs and dangers associated with these kinds of mistakes, it is no surprise that safety is the number one priority of many construction and excavation operations. Getting accurate locates is critical to the safety and mission of excavation teams, yet busy and demanding work schedules, deadlines, and poorly mapped areas create direct conflicts with the priorities of safety and precision. Many locate technicians struggle with the balance between accuracy and speed while they rush to complete all of the days open tickets. And, poorly mapped regions slow work and add an element of uncertainty to the technicians and onsite inspectors in the field.

For many One Call Support outfits, the current method of locating underground assets prior to excavation largely depends on a utility locate technician detecting an electromagnetic field induced on the utility for location purposes, and then placing marks along the detected line. Ideally, detected lines are double checked against existing records to ensure accuracy, but often existing records may be inaccurate or nonexistent. Poorly mapped areas that conflict with the locates flagged by technicians slow down productivity and often provides challenges in safely excavating around critical infrastructure.

Updating existing geospatial data with accurate locations can greatly speed up future projects, saving locators hours in the field and giving excavation crews unparalleled levels of confidence in where they dig. Once a line is physically located either by traditional locate techniques or ideally when it is first installed, next generation GNSS receivers, such as the Asteri X3 paired with Tri-Global’s UtiliPad, are capable of marking locates with cm level accuracy. Companies that invest in this kind of highly accurate GIS data collection can reap benefits in efficiency and certainty in the future. When that location data is uploaded into GIS data and paired with augmented reality (AR), locators can literally see the desired line beneath the dirt by viewing the field through an iPad or Android device to double check their work. Additionally, this technology allows onsite inspectors to oversee excavation with remarkable ease and precision.

AR technology is already available to help utility companies and municipalities to create time saving and safer records of their infrastructure. New or existing geospatial data can be transferred into mapping software and used in conjunction with an AR mobile device technology such as the Argis® Framework provided by Argis Solutions. This improved workflow is robust, field ready, and offers superior communication between location technicians and central support. One Call Support Departments and Companies that have implemented AR within their field operations have found the technology provides a higher confidence level in locate operations thus increasing overall safety and accuracy in their excavation while investing in the future productivity of infrastructure maintenance.

Damage Prevention Professional Magazine is a quarterly industry publication with a print circulation of 30,000+ and digital circulation of 70,000+ throughout the United States and Canada, along with a contingent of international subscribers. This publication addresses cross-industry concerns to damage prevention stakeholders. This article was originally published in the Special Issue: Underground Utility Locating