Authors: Eronmonsele Esekhaigbe, Emrah Kazan, Mumtaz Usmen
Installation, detection, maintenance, mapping, and management of underground utility assets present challenges to owners, engineers and contractors. Industry-wide practices include the use of geophysical and similar technologies to determine depth and location, and 2D as-built plans integrated with GIS databases for information management. The feasibility of incorporating 3D BIM models of the subsurface to replace the 2D plans to improve visualization and data management is examined in this paper. Obtaining an accurate image of the underground infrastructure would help minimize excavation accidents due to equipment-utility collisions and prevent property damage. Further, the inclusion of automated data collection and sharing features realized through BIM technology can enhance operations of smart cities. The research methodology consists of a state-of-the-art review of the current underground utility management systems, combined with statistical analysis of survey responses received from utility providers and one-call centers in the U.S. Three categories of utility practices are identified based on the level of digital technology integration. It is found that a vast majority of utility firms have adopted GIS databases with 2D plans, depth and other asset information, while a smaller percentage of providers have achieved full GIS-BIM integration, incorporating a wide range of asset data. Future progress on broader implementation appears to be constrained by the digital literacy of personnel and high costs of technology acquisition and application. A three-step framework for converting 2D plans to 3D BIM models is also presented and discussed. The process model proposed for this purpose allows the utilization of commercially available software with minimal need for additional coding.
See also: Comments to Paper