When you embark on any new construction project that requires you to put a shovel in the dirt, beware. The ground may look safe, but utility lines lurk beneath.

When you call in a locator, they now have the option of the newest tech in locating underground utility lines: 3D mapping.

Keep reading to learn how everyone can benefit from this clearer, more reliable locating technology.

3D Mapping

Before any construction projects take place, utility mapping must happen. Backhoes cannot break the soil until every man on the construction crew knows what’s under the soil.

Old methods of utility detection involved two-dimensional models, with a general understanding of the longitudinal and latitudinal location. This gives construction crews a general idea of where to not dig, but it does not indicate how deep the utility lines are.

The newest forms of 3D mapping add in the third dimension of depth, so crews can know if a water line is six feet or eight feet underground.

Ground-penetrating radar technology is one of the newest forms of 3D underground mapping. GPR mapping detects nonmetallic objects and provides the 3D location of utilities. Thus it tells the depth as well as the X, Y coordinates of each utility line.

GPR works in combination with GNSS locators to find the most accurate geolocation of each utility that makes up the underground infrastructure.

GPR matters especially in the water industry. Many 2D methods of locating cannot locate plastic. Since 3D works to locate the water in the piping, the material of the piping does not matter, making 3D locating superior to 2D locating when looking for water lines.

GPR does have its limitations. Only an expert, usually a geophysicist, can best read the scans. Also, GPR works at a walking pace compared to the super quick mobile laser scanning also on the market.

Plus, some types of dirt like aggregate and clay can actually hinder the effectiveness of GPR.

Future Mapping Techniques

Scientists are now focusing on combining underground detection tools with positioning tools. This would provide the most accurate location for any underground utilities.

The future looks bright for locators. Technology will only serve them better to help you find the pipes, wires, and all the secret elements of underground infrastructure.

Experts claim that up to 90 percent of all construction projects move more slowly than planned because of things we cannot see beneath the surface. Furthermore, using 3D models like the ones described above will reduce the risk of causing outages and other utility problems.

As technology increases, the 3D map will only become more accurate, making old scans and images look like the polaroid camera shots of yesteryear compared to today’s megapixel images.

Three Dimensions, One Picture

When you’re looking for the best picture for underground infrastructure, 3D mapping makes the most sense. You receive an accurate buyer utility map of the network of cables, pipes, and wires that you cannot see above ground.

Before you dig, make a phone call. Contact us today to get a quote. We use the latest and most innovative techniques that help you stay safe above ground and your utility lines stay intact underground.