The National Academies

SHRP 2 R01(A) [Completed]

Technologies to Support Storage, Retrieval, and Utilization of 3-D Utility Location Data

  Project Data
Funds: $969,147
Research Agency: Gas Technology Institute
Principal Investigator: William Gale
Effective Date: 9/1/2009
Completion Date: 11/30/2013

Project snapshot. More details below.

(Project Number)
Impact on Practice
Product Status

State-of-the-art model and guide for using and managing 3D utility data. The system will leverage GIS, GPS, and other technologies to acquire, store, visualize, and integrate 3D positional and structural information.
Utilities that are unknown or mistakenly recorded routinely consume resources and cause project delays. The 3-D data model will provide easy identification, tracking, and retrieval of information so that an increasingly comprehensive record of utility information beneath public rights-of-way can be created. Ready access to this information can eliminate costly and dangerous surprises during construction and reduce the time spent on “refinding” known utilities.
A prototype data model was piloted and evaluated in cooperation with Virginia DOT and technology and utility providers in 2013.

The research report, data model, and user's guide are forthcoming. 

Staff Responsibility: Jerry DiMaggio
Project R01A is part of a suite of projects focused on the location of underground utilities.


This project was intended to identify best practices for modeling, structuring, storing, retrieving, visualizing, and integrating 3-D utility data and to develop an innovative approach that leverages recent advances in technologies including, but not limited to, global positioning systems (GPS), ground penetrating radar, and geographical information systems (GIS). These practices would improve the quality and efficiency of storing, retrieving, and utilizing utility records include active and passive detection equipment, with three-dimensional positional and structural information. The project was also intended to demonstrate the collection, management, and use of such information in a multi-utility environment. The overall objective was to reduce the time spent on repeatedly “refinding” known utilities so that resources can be focused on unknown or previously mis-recorded utilities and so that an increasingly comprehensive record of utility information beneath public rights-of-way can be created.
The 3D storage and retrieval data model developed will accommodate large volumes of data, interface with existing design software, and provide designers with a tool to use captured data on underground utilities. The data provide horizontal and vertical location of the facility, as well as information regarding the type of utility that is buried at the location. This information is valuable both for design around the location and for coordinating with the utility owner. Once stored in the system, the underground utility location data are available for future reference.
Status: The project is complete.
Product Availability: A fact sheet and project brief are available.  The research report, data model, and user's guide are forthcoming.
This page was last modified on January 7, 2014.

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