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Town Uses GIS to Locate Buried Infrastructure

Town Uses GIS to Locate Buried Infrastructure

When officials in the small town of Tama, Iowa realized that approximately half of Iowa’s public works operators are eligible for retirement within the next five years, the city decided that an accurate, written recorded of the local infrastructure was essential for the future. Tama, which has a population of less than 3,000 residents, chose to use GIS technology, which allows city officials to locate buried assets within a two-inch accuracy.

Hidden underneath the ground, cement, and sod are miles of water mains, gas lines, fiber-optic cables, electric power lines, television cable and sewer pipes. As various systems have undergone upgrades, the city had lost the ability to accurately locate many of these essential elements, like where a water main was located beneath a street or how a gas line entered a home or business.

In an effort to precisely locate all of these vital services, John Lloyd, (at-the-time) Director of Public Works in Tama, proposed using a GIS system to accurately map infrastructure elements to the Tama City Council. The satellite technology uses geometric triangulation off a base point in the city, the Iowa Department of Transportation, and then measures the location of the infrastructure. The technology is able to identify and mark pipes, cables and lines with amazing accuracy. This information is then layered onto existing maps, allowing utility crews and urban planners to know exactly where essential utilities are buried, even those beneath sod, inches of asphalt or piles of snow.

Larger cities and other government entities have been using GIS technology to map essential city works for several years. Tama felt like they are on the cutting edge for cities of its sizes by using this advanced technology. For other small cities like Tama, GeoTel Communications offers fiber network maps, fiber lit buildings, and other fiber data sets to assist local government officials in analyzing fiber infrastructure in a spatial, map-like environment. If you are interested in obtaining fiber network maps for a particular city or metro area, contact GeoTel Communications at 407.788.8888

Valerie Stephen