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Cable Technology Feature Article

April 01, 2011

Verizon Promoting 811 for the Safety and Integrity of Underground Utility Infrastructure

By Madhubanti Rudra, TMCnet Contributor

An unintended blow of your shovel at the time of digging can severely damage the parts of the complex infrastructure of cables, pipelines and wires lying underground, cause disruption of services to an entire neighborhood, and lead to fines and repair costs. As little as calling 811 can help prevent all these and as part of its promotional initiative for 811, communication giant Verizon is observing April as National Safe Digging Month and drawing people’s attention to the importance of calling 811.

Verizon (News - Alert) is a member of the Common Ground Alliance, established in 2005 by the Federal Communications Commission to prevent the unintentional strikes of underground utility lines while digging. According to the CGA, 170,000 underground utilities are damaged annually across the nation. As a part of this alliance, Verizon is working together with its 1,400 members across the U.S. to promote 811. 811 is a free, national call-before-you-dig number, which ensures utility lines under the ground are marked, while digging.

As a part of its promotion of safe digging, Verizon is distributing hats, gloves and other promotional items with the 811 logo. Verizon field operations personnel are going to use the items while working for cable locating, maintenance and carrying out emergency repair responsibilities. The promotional items are also given out to the outside plant engineering personnel who are responsible for construction, protection, location and permanent restoration activities and excavators, locators, municipal employees and right-of-way providers with whom Verizon works. In addition, the vehicles belonging to Verizon fleet will display 811 bumper stickers all through the month.

“Calling 811 is an easy and safe way to avoid striking any parts of the complex underground infrastructure of cables, pipelines and wires. Calling before every digging project helps avoid harm to families and neighbors, disrupted service to an entire neighborhood and potential fines and repair costs,” senior vice president of global network field operations at Verizon and treasurer of the Common Ground Alliance board Diane McCarthy explained in a statement.

In the press release, Verizon explained the way 811 works. The digger needs to call 811 for free, and this free call connects the caller to the local one-call center, which will notify all appropriate utility companies of the intent to dig. The center will notify affected utility companies, which will then send a professional locator to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of the lines.

The user should call several days before he actually plans to dig. This gives utilities enough time to mark their utility lines properly. Once lines have been properly marked, the caller is free to carefully dig around the marked areas.

Verizon is not only committed to the safety and integrity of its network through 811, it also emphasizes on the importance of having its professional locators respond in a timely manner to accurately mark Verizon underground facilities when others are digging.

In July 2010, TMCnet reported Verizon’s previous announcement regarding 811. The largest broadband provider said in a previous report that the date “8-11” provides a natural reminder to call 811 to have underground utility lines marked before starting any project that involves digging.

Madhubanti Rudra is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell