5 reasons city governments are turning to GPR technology for utility detection

Cities around the world are coming to understand that what is below ground has a direct impact on what is above ground. Whether it’s the likes of Big Ben and Parliament in London or the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center in New York City all the way to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and Suncorp Stadium of Brisbane, historic cities worldwide have complex, and many times under-documented, systems of pipes and assets underground that are just as important as the tourist sites up top.

With this growing understanding of locating, documenting and maintaining these sub-terranean systems, city governments are turning more and more to Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) technology to help untangle the criss-cross of utility pipes and more.

Recently, the Brisbane City Council (BCC), the largest local government in Australia, made the strategic decision to adopt the new Leica DSX utility detection solution into its asset management field operation. The software will be used for preventive maintenance of underground utilities and incident response tasks where excavation work may be required on as-needed basis.

“We are excited that Brisbane City Council is one of the first adopters of this revolutionary GPR solution and, after three months of use, have already benefited greatly in productivity with less time spent on-site,” said Brad Keane, C.R. Kennedy Subsurface Detection Specialist. “The combination of accessibility to world-leading technology, C.R. Kennedy specialist in-house consulting expertise, and national-wide service and support facilities will deliver Brisbane City Council with superior performance along with sustained economic benefits.”

As the largest distributor of Leica Geosystems solutions in Australia, this contract award reaffirms C.R. Kennedy’s leadership in providing the most advanced underground detection solutions to professionals to support with safety, management and automation of underground detection and mapping tasks. Leica Geosystems and C.R. Kennedy showed great customer-focus during the roll-out, especially also when providing support for the custom Brisbane City Council spatial grid system, meaning that all detected utilities can now be seamlessly incorporated into existing subsurface models.

How do cities benefit?

With the GPR technology of the DSX, city governments are in for a world of painless integration. Here’s how:

  1. Anyone can locate, map and maintain.
    The DSX represents a significant change in how GPR technology is used in the field with a simple detection workflow that anyone can understand. The DSX can be used by non-experts to complete area mapping or grid surveys that allows in-field decision making with high confidence. The ease-of-use of the DSX package allows all members of the team, regardless of experience, to arrive at the same result.
  2. Cities have instant verification and documentation of underground assets.
    The DSX utility detection solution uses advanced software coupled with high-accuracy positioning technology that allows for instant visualisation, analysis and documentation of underground utilities detected.
  3. Results are automatically processed for quicker action.
    Users no longer need to interpret individual scans and manually pick targets on multiple radargrams. After the grid survey is completed, the GPR data is automatically post-processed and suspected targets can be instantly analysed with the help of the intelligent DXplore software. This software compares selected targets to a library of real-world GPR responses by applying machine learning processes. When the identified assets are accepted, a digital utility map is then generated in the field within minutes, with the results directly exportable to CAD and GIS software.
  4. Risk of utility strikes is significantly decreased
    Locating and mapping of the vast utility network of a city can be a lengthy task but is a prerequisite to safe excavations. Although network owners have plans of their assets, they are sometimes inaccurate. Many governments globally have implemented recommendations and even regulations describing best practice detection processes, using cable locators and GPR systems prior to excavation, minimising risk of accidentally striking a utility, threats to the safety of on-site crews and neighbourhoods, reducing damages and their consequences such as lack of access to media (water, gas, electricity and the Internet) and traffic disorganisation. With the simplicity and portability of DSX, municipalities now have a chance to provide contractors and excavators with a solution that reduces all of the above risks, especially in situations in which plans are unavailable, outdated or inaccurate.
  5. Integration of utility information into GIS systems to make cities “smarter”
    In the past few years, increasingly more cities decided to pursue vision and strategy of a “smart” city. Mapping of utility networks in a GIS system is a good starting point. Smart utilities are the ones that are accurately mapped – existing and new – in a digital format for instant access, sharing and updating, and with precise coordinates for quick and easy relocation. In a nutshell, smart utilities allow asset owners and municipalities to make informed and reliable decisions immediately. Each detection and mapping project performed by the DSX can be exported to a GIS system of a municipality or to CAD software to assure up to date and precise information as a base for informed decisions.

Craig Robertson, Australia & New Zealand regional director of at Leica Geosystems, said the Leica DSX is another example of dedication to serving customers with innovative technology solutions.

“With the Leica DSX utility detection solution, users with limited GPR knowledge who need to locate, avoid or map underground utilities in a simple, fast and safe way now have the technology they need to keep their cities safe,” said Craig Robertson, Australia & New Zealand regional director of at Leica Geosystems.  “Working with C.R. Kennedy, we are honoured to bring solutions to the Brisbane City Council and other city governments worldwide.”

Learn more about the Leica DSX here.

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