29 May

How to Protect Underground Utilities on your Worksite

  • By: Rick Maher
  • News


Managing underground utilities is difficult and protecting them during any excavation works is extremely difficult.

Every year there are injuries and fatalities attributable to hitting underground utilities during excavations. In addition, inaccurate and missing information about underground utilities is a major cause of construction project schedule and budget overruns. Currently there is no requirement to share damage data so the true impact of utility strikes nationally can only be approximated. Before You Dig Australia (BYDA) has revealed that there are at least 200 utility strikes a month (approximately 2,400 strikes per year) across Australia (BYDA’s forum May 2023).

Accurate location of underground utilities combined with the effective deployment of this information using technologically advanced methods creates a successful approach to reducing underground utility damage during construction. The foundation lies in the quality of the data at every stage of the project. From data capture in the utility survey, all the way through to processing, management and to it final deployment during excavation, ensuring data quality is crucial.

Since its inception in 2015, Utility Mapping has been focusing on the safety and protection of people and assets as part as its core services. We can detect and map subsurface infrastructure at any quality level required. In addition, our utility surveyors and locators can identify and locate the various underground utilities as well as unknown anomalies using our state-of-the-art ground penetrating radar (3D radar) technology.

All data surveyed, including unknowns from 3D radar, pothole reports, surveys, etc. are integrated and processed to ensure consistent, standards-based data quality and accuracy. Throughout these processes, a continually improved Unified Utility Data Model is established and delivered to any customer specification or project delivery standard. GIS spatial analysis is often undertaken to ensure quality, highlight issues, and detect potential clashes. We support this analysis with 2D and 3D visualisations to simply communicate to any project team member what is occurring underground.

To make this process as seamless and efficient as possible, Utility Mapping has developed UMAPP, a digital workflow permit to excavate system.


UMAPP is a revolutionary permit to excavate product that provides a digital workflow for each permit. Within a project area, permits are created, coordinated, and approved for activation.

With UMAPP, we can deploy the Unified Utility Data Model on site, providing field crews with subsurface intelligence, enabling efficient decision making to ensure the safety of workers, the public and associated infrastructure. The data can be updated as required from utility surveys or through BYDA request updates.

When the excavation permit is authored in UMAPP the following processes are applied:

  • the permit location is created on a map with reference to the Unified Utility Data;
  • creation of permit controls;
  • lodge BYDA responses, digitally, for future reference and printing by permit holders as required.

All permits can be coordinated and approved for issuing based on your field schedule. Once they are issued, further checklists and field crew onboarding to the permit are supported. All permits can be printed at any time.


The product requires field team members to author, coordinate, check and manage the permits, and within UMAPP these are known as permit officers. Throughout the workflow, the actions of the permit officers are recorded for audit purposes. This provides a full history of what has been created or changed to the permit as well as who coordinated and accepted the permit.

Utility Mapping can fully manage the Permit to Excavate process according to our customers’ safety standards. We offer two options: deploying UMAPP and providing permit officers, or training staff to use UMAPP as permit officers. Both options ensure compliance with safety regulations, streamline the excavation permit process, and enhance operational efficiency by empowering staff with the necessary tools and training.


If you have identified a risk to utilities on your site or project and need help managing this risk, get in touch to find out how we can support you to reduce this risk. Utility Mapping can help you eliminate inefficiencies and cost overruns that are the result of underground utilities.

For more information visit utility mapping.com.au/umapp

Get in contact:

Chris Bower cbower@utilitymapping.com.au

Cath Hill chill@utilitymapping.com.au

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