Dial 811 to Know What's BelowAnyone who may come in contact with underground utility lines should be aware of the new three-digit national toll-free number to call before beginning any digging project.
The new number, 811, is used to locate underground lines on jobsites or dig locations (large or small) before breaking ground. The 811 number connects callers to their local One Call Center, a service that contacts local utility companies to come onsite to visibly mark the approximate locations of utility lines for any digging project--even those that only penetrate a few inches into the earth.
The impetus behind the creation of a single national number began after years of documented digging accidents resulting in utility damage, service outages, injuries and in some cases, even deaths. In 2002, Congress recognized the significance of these accidents and passed the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act, a law calling for the creation of a toll-free national number to call before digging. Fifteen stakeholder groups representing a broad cross-section of the utility infrastructure industry unanimously requested the creation of a three-digit national calling number and continue to back its implementation. As the national organization responsible for promoting effective damage prevention practices for all underground facilities in North America, the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) was designated by the Federal Communications Commission as the organization responsible for promoting awareness and use of the new national 811 number. Although there are 62 existing One Call Centers across the United States, establishing 811 as a national number eliminates the confusion of multiple numbers and continues to provide a free and simple utility location service.
According to the CGA, there are roughly 700,000 unintentional underground utility damages each year. As a result, in 2005 alone, studies estimate that approximately 50 people were killed. The CGA also reports that only 33 percent of homeowners who have taken digging projects into their own hands have called to have their lines marked before beginning projects. This has disrupted services to entire neighborhoods, harmed diggers, and resulted in fines and repair costs. Although surveyors typically don’t dig into the ground at great depths, the setting of pins, survey markers and monuments constitutes breaking ground. If an accident occurs when pounding survey stakes into the ground and the One Call number was not utilized beforehand, surveyors could be held liable for any damage.
In order for the request for marked utility lines to be processed, all 811 calls must be placed at least 72 hours prior to digging. Surveyors working on large surveying projects must plan ahead to request that all jobsites be marked in time for the surveying tasks. Once the lines are marked, workers will know the approximate location of all utility lines and can dig safely.
Every digging project--from installing a pin, constructing a large building, planting a tree or installing a mailbox in a yard--requires a call. Knowing what’s below will protect workers, neighbors and the community at large.
For additional information on digging safely, click to www.call811.com , or POB's "Call Before You Dig" from May 2003.
Michigan Utilizes Online Host for Surveying ExamOn April 30, it became easier for Michigan residents to take their examinations to become licensed professional surveyors. In an effort to move from print to computer-based testing, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth (DLEG) in Lansing, Mich., contracted PSI licensure: certification of Las Vegas to conduct the Part IIB-Michigan Principles and Practice of Professional Surveying examination program. PSI, a host for a variety of services such as construction, surveying, real estate, insurance and other professional licenses, provides examinations through a network of computer examination centers throughout various states across the nation.
To expedite the surveying examination process, candidates can register for their exams online through PSI. Upon completion of the online registration form, candidates are prompted to choose from a list of available testing dates and locations and then report to the examination site on the scheduled day.
Prior to the development of the DLEG’s new contract, the professional surveying exam was only offered two times a year in two locations across the state of Michigan. With the help of PSI, the Michigan Principles and Practice of Professional Surveying examination is now offered in five locations across the state with multiple testing dates throughout the year, allowing more opportunities for candidates to take the exam. Since the exam is also completed in its entirety by computer, test-takers receive their scores immediately after taking the exam.
“This [new contract] is potentially a good thing for surveyors in Michigan,” says Roland Self, executive director of the Michigan Society of Professional Surveyors (MSPS). “It provides more locations and more opportunities to take the [professional surveying] exam.” And, Self adds, “Those who fail the exam also have more opportunities to retake the exam.” With the new exam system through PSI, a test-taker who tests unsuccessfully can call the day after completing the exam and retest as soon as 90 days or later.
To ensure that the examinations accurately measure competency in the required knowledge areas, PSI and the DLEG continually evaluate the examinations administered. PSI works closely with the DLEG to make certain that the surveying exam meets the state’s, as well as the nation’s, established technical and professional standards for examination development and administration.
To locate a testing site and obtain information about the examination process in Michigan, click to www.psiexams.com and download the Candidate Information Bulletin.
Satellite Agencies Aid Victims of Natural DisastersIn an effort to help protect victims of natural disasters, U.S. commercial satellite agencies DigitalGlobe and GeoEye partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in support of the global team of space and satellite agencies that constitute the International Charter “Space and Major Disasters.” The International Charter works to provide free emergency response satellite data to those affected by disasters anywhere in the world. Both DigitalGlobe’s and GeoEye’s participation in the charter will aid in placing disaster response imagery into the hands of people who need it.
Since November 2000, the International Charter has collected imagery from a variety of civilian and commercial satellites, including RADARSAT, QUICKBIRD, ERS, ENVISAT, SPOT, IRS, SAC-C, NOAA, Landsat, ALOS, DMC and others. Members of the charter include organizations from Britain, France, Argentina, Canada, India and Japan, as well as the European Space Agency (ESA), the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the USGS. Each member agency has committed resources to support the provisions of the Charter and aims to diminish the effects of disasters worldwide.
Cartography Exhibit To Showcase Mapping TechnologiesChicago’s Field Museum is hosting a special exhibition, Maps: Finding Our Place in the World, to illustrate how maps have changed over the centuries and to commemorate those that have shaped the world. The exhibit is sponsored by NAVTEQ, provider of digital map data and an active partner in the project, and organized by the Field Museum and the Chicago-based Newberry Library, an independent research library with an extensive collection of rare books, maps and other printed material.
The exhibit, which will be on display in Chicago from Nov. 2, 2007 through Jan. 28, 2008, will feature more than 120 maps from across the world, including maps from ancient Rome and Babylonia, Egypt, groundbreaking maps from Leonardo da Vinci, and antiquated maps borrowed from the Vatican and other famous libraries across the globe. According to the Field Museum’s Permanent Exhibitions Manager, Todd Tubutis, the collection of maps presented is culturally broad, with maps from a range of time periods from all over the world. “We’d like to challenge the way people look at maps,” Tubutis says. “We’d like to point out that maps are witnesses to history and also shapers of history.”
The exhibit is coordinated by themes and features seven segments representing various types of maps: “Finding Our Way,” “Mapping the World,” “Mapping Places,” “Mapping History,” “Visualizing Nature and Society,” “Mapping Imaginary Worlds” and “Living With Maps.” The last segment of the exhibit, “Living With Maps,” will feature a series of high-tech displays that highlight the latest advances in digital mapmaking, including consumer-based map products used on cell phones and in cars, and several professional mapping products. Tubutis says this portion of the exhibit will demonstrate that maps permeate every aspect of our lives. A sample of the new generation of mapping technologies such as handheld devices and in-car systems will be on display to show visitors how technology has changed over centuries.
The idea driving the exhibit first came when Field Museum President John McCarter Jr. asked cartography expert Ken Nebenzahl if there had ever been an exhibit with the 100 greatest maps in the world. As it turns out, in 1952, the Baltimore Museum of Art hosted The World Encompassed, an exhibition of the history of maps. “The two men decided that the world was ready for another exhibit,” Tubutis says. “And for the last four years, they’ve been working to bring more than 120 of the greatest maps [together for] this unprecedented event.”
Tubutis says the exhibit aims to leave visitors with the realization that maps are not just about getting from here to there. “They tell us a lot about the people who made them,” he says. “You can read much more into a map.” The exhibit also intends to demonstrate that mapmaking is a human endeavor that has been ongoing for years. “People have been mapping forever,” Tubutis asserts. “And we’re trying to show people that.”
Overall, Maps: Finding Our Place in the World aims to offer a rich lesson in history, culture and technology, and to help visitors understand their place in the world. For further information on the exhibit opening in November, click to www.fieldmuseum.org.
GNSS UpdatesEU to Exclusively Fund Galileo
On May 16, the European Commission announced that financing for Europe’s Galileo GNSS project will come solely from the public sector. According to the Associated Press, under the original plan, European taxpayers were supposed to cover roughly one-third of the $4.9 billion project. However, the European Commission and European Union member states reconsidered the original financing plans as the companies involved demanded more public support in the risks and costs of the project.
In recent months, the project has seen delays due to arguments among the eight companies in the consortium over how to divide the workload. In March, the EU gave the consortium of companies from France, Germany, Spain, Britain and Italy an ultimatum to set up a joint legal entity to run the project or risk losing control of it. The May 16 announcement ended the dual partnership between the private and public sectors to construct Galileo.
China Launches Fifth Beidou Satellite
On April 13, China launched the fifth satellite in its Compass Navigation Satellite System. The Xinhua news agency reported that the Beidou satellite was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in southwest China’s Sichuan province at 4:11 a.m. and entered its planned orbit. China’s current system consists of five satellites that provide regional coverage of China and surrounding areas.