August 2015, Vol. 70, No.8


KorTerra To Integrate One Call

There are more than 20 million miles of underground utilities in the United States, reports the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), an organization committed to preventing damage to buried utilities. The number increases every day.
In spite of the efforts of CGA, owners and operators of utility services, contractors and others with a stake in protecting underground infrastructure, costly and dangerous utility strikes continue to occur.

The nation’s One-Call system is the starting point for preventing accidental damage to underground utilities. Calling 8-1-1 connects to the local One-Call agency, setting in motion the process of locating and marking buried lines before construction involving excavation, directional drilling, auger boring or other work that displaces the soil.

The process is simple, yet flaws remain and One-Call agencies and member organizations continue to make significant improvements in One-Call procedure. Ways of improving One-Call were covered in detail in the April issue of Underground Construction magazine.

A key point in that report was streamlining the One-Call process by implementing changes in mapping technology. For example, geographic information systems (GIS) technology is being incorporated into One-Call operations to produce facility maps that display locates on a map, highlight all facilities that need to be marked, and screen locate tickets.
Software company KorTerra has developed a set of products exclusively for the needs of One-Call Centers, utility providers and others with stakes in preventing accidental utility strikes.

Earlier this year, KorTerra introduced the latest redesign of its KorWeb software at the CGA’s 2015 annual meeting. The updated version will be available in late 2015.

“KorWeb software is a One-Call ticket management application designed for contract locators, One-Call Centers, utility companies, municipalities and pipeline companies,” said Tom Hall, KorTerra vice president of business development and marketing. “KorTerra’s web-based software suite aids in the protection of underground facilities, prevents service interruptions and helps excavators and homeowners to dig safely.”

Applying GIS technology, KorTerra integrates clients’ GIS maps into the KorWeb system to display all locate data on the GIS maps, explains Hall. “This allows a facility owner to quickly and easily determine which underground facilities may be in conflict for each locate, where high profile locates are necessary, and simple reviews of “no-conflict”tickets.”

KorTerra’s One-Call ticket management systems process more than 24 million tickets each year, said Hall. The starting point for implementing the KorWeb system is for the client – a state One-Call agency or utility provider, for example – to provide KorTerra contact and user information, GIS map layers or WMS (Web Map Service) credentials and facility membership codes registered with the state One-Call agency. Incorporating WMS data into KorTerra software allows changes and updates in mapping to be updated in real time.

“GIS mapping integration is not needed for implementation, but this is an enhancement of the software at clients’ discretion if they believe it brings value. We find that all the major, and even in some cases, the smaller utilities, have GIS mapping that can be supplied if they chose to enhance their software environment with this feature.

“Implementation process is very easy and in most cases relatively quick,” Hall said.  “Most software environments are set up within one week or less. We utilize a SaaS pricing model and clients are billed annually.

“The KorWeb system has a default geographical mapping feature all clients enjoy with the base system. This is done via Mapbox embedded within the software and will show the locate(s) geographical geocoded position on the map and has a satellite or digital view.”

GIS, One-Call Centers
“KorTerra software is an alternative way to seamlessly receive One- Call tickets electronically,” said Hall. “This ensures the delivery of the tickets to One-Call members, enhancing the safety of the process. The KorTerra software also can assist with compliance to One-Call laws relating to communications back to the call centers when positive response is mandatory.”
Hall said benefits of KorWeb to One-Call agencies include:

  • Elimination of paper locate tickets;
  • Increasing locating and ticket processing efficiency;
  • Improving locate ticket reception reliability;
  • Increasing on-time completion of locates; and
  • Providing real-time system information which allows users to make quick decisions.

GIS, utility providers
While KorTerra clients share the goal of preventing damage to buried utilities, their operational needs vary.
Explained Hall: “Utility providers, contractors, municipalities and other organizations with a stake in protecting buried facilities have individual operating needs and requirements based on many variables including: size of the organization, in what state or region the organization operates, facility type, etc. Therefore, we take a customized approach providing each client with the information gathered through interactive demonstrations and discussion when implementing the process.”
A case history documents how one large utility provider’s One-Call locate program changed after implementing the KorTerra

Hall said that prior to implementing KorTerra, the company had a complicated, paper-intensive dispatch process. Personnel were manually processing tickets and issuing locate orders. They recognized locator personnel were not performing at optimum levels because of the drive time required to pick up their daily tickets. Expensive paper maps were being used in the field which were cumbersome, easily damaged and investigation revealed they were being under-utilized because they were difficult to use.
“Now,” said Hall, “the utility company receives all locate tickets electronically and is able to dispatch tickets wirelessly in real-time to locators in the field. This not only eliminates wasted drive time but allows locate personnel more time to work on their tickets. Before KorTerra, locators were picking up tickets that were already sitting in the office for up to 24 hours, leaving them only 24 hours to perform the locate. Now, they have the full 48 hours to complete the ticket. Locators also are able to easily complete the tickets electronically on mobile laptops which then triggers an automatic electronic positive response record.”
The company now has the ability to view electronic maps using an interface to KorTerra’s Map Frame which allows locators to go directly to a desired facility map without changing applications and access the facility map to aid in locating.
“For this utility company,” said Hall, “the costs and inconveniences associated with paper tickets have been eliminated and sizable increases are being achieved in dispatch and locator productivity. Fees incurred for late positive responses have been virtually eliminated. Data are quickly and easily retrievable for management processing enabling the measurement of efficiencies and reporting and tracking data through software reporting functions. Finally, the utility is reporting more accurate locates since implementing the system.”

Based in Chanhassen, MN, KorTerra has been providing utility damage prevention software since 1990.
CGA is a member-driven association of 1,700 individuals, organizations and sponsors in every facet of the underground utility industry. Established in 2000, CGA is committed to saving lives and preventing damage to underground infrastructure by promoting effective damage-prevention practices.

(952) 368-1911,

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