Google Maps of the Underground
Call 8-1-1, the locator company sends out an engineer with equipment to find the line(s) in question. When he’s satisfied where the line is, he or she takes out a can of spray paint or handful of small flags and marks said line.
Every player in this everyday scenario has done his or her job. The problem is, many times preciseness isn’t part of all the paint marks and flags. With 2.5 million miles of pipelines and nearly 15 times than mileage amount for underground utilities, companies spend roughly $10 billion per year to (hopefully) identify the exact location of underground lines, and another $30 billion annually to fix damaged pipes and utilities.
In 2014, Page Tucker, who had experienced first-hand the problem of avoiding underground accidents at his father’s oil and gas construction company in British Columbia, saw the future and it was digital, super-fast and super precise. Tucker is Chief Executive Officer & President of ProStar.
A software developer, Tucker also was a visionary. He saw it was possible to determine where underground lines were exactly where his software said they were. Regardless of how many lines were scattered, ProStar’s product, PointMan, would find the hidden lines, down to within a single centimeter.
And it all works in seconds — on a cellphone.
“We knew that all the technology we needed to make PointMan do what we wanted would fall into place,” said Tucker.
PointMan is a patented (one of 20 U.S. and Canadian patents held by Tucker) cloud and mobile mapping software application that captures, records, and displays the precise location and associated metadata of surface and subsurface infrastructure.
PointMan’s Cloud runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS), achieving scalability, flexibility and security. Running on AWS allows PointMan to provide systems integration while supporting any sized business or government agency, anywhere in the world, in any currency, and in any language.
Partnering early on with Deere & Co. and pipeline giant Enbridge, all the while using a lot of trial and error in improving its product, ProStar/PointMan made rapid progress and today, cuts the typical time needed to map locations from three to 10 days, to seconds.
“Knowing the origin, locational accuracy methods, and integrity of utility data are critical to managing the risks of using that data; ProStar’s attribution of precision, pedigree, and provenance to utility data delivers measurable confidence to stakeholders,” according to Jim Anspach, Founding Governor, the American Society of Civil Engineers Utility Engineering & Surveying Institute.
“As a company, we are continually evaluating best practices and industry trends and technologies so that we can prepare our students to be successful when they enter the workforce,” said Donald Richard, Vice-President of LMI, Canada’s Locate Management Institute, an education, training and assessment organization for locator organizations.