How Electronic White Lining Will Help Mitigate Subsurface Damage

How Electronic White Lining Will Help Mitigate Subsurface Damage

No contractor or excavator wants to see a project go up in smoke because of a utility strike.

So, heading into the 2024 construction season, it’s essential that they consider innovative technologies and best practices designed to mitigate utility strikes during groundbreaking activities.

Electronic white lining, or EWL, will play a huge role in reversing concerning trends in subsurface damage.

White lining refers to the practice of marking out an intended dig area (usually with white paint or flags) so that a utility locating company knows the scope of their locate area/job. By pinpointing the work area, the excavator saves the utility locator time on site and helps ensure the efficiency of the requested locate.

Electronic white lining allows excavators a way to white line their dig area without the need for a physical site visit. Using lines or polygons, the excavator can mark out their intended dig site on a satellite image or plan view of the jobsite. That information is then sent to the locator prior to their arrival.

White lining was already an effective way to mitigate risk on a jobsite. EWL refines that process to improve the level of service you receive from your utility locators.

The Common Ground Alliance notes in the 2022 Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) Report that encouraging “effective use of the 811 system to reduce overall locator workloads, including through (electronic) white-lining, inputting the correct size/scope of tickets and ticket renewal practices” will go a long way in helping the construction industry achieve substantial subsurface damage reductions even as the number of construction starts continues to rise.

Improving the efficiency of utility locating services will help reverse a three-year upward trend in underground utility strikes identified by the CGA.

Contacting 811 is the first step toward avoiding utility strikes. It’s important to remember, however, that 811 contractors do not provide comprehensive utility maps, depth measurements on public utilities, or locate private utilities in any capacity.

Over 60% of all buried utilities in the United States are private. So, it’s imperative that you hire a private utility locator near you to complement the work done by 811.

A worker uses ground penetrating radar to conduct a utility locate.
GPRS Project Managers maintain a 99.8%+ accuracy rating on utility locating and concrete scanning.

GPRS Project Managers tailor our utility locating, precision concrete scanning, 3D laser scanning, video pipe inspection, and leak detection services to meet your needs. And every utility locate we complete comes with a complimentary Personal subscription to SiteMap® (patent pending), our industry-leading, cloud-based facility infrastructure management platform where you can review and share GPS-enabled documentation of your utility map and other hyper-accurate infrastructure data collected by our team members on your site.

SiteMap® expedites EWL on future projects, providing you with an up-to-date, accurate view of your subsurface infrastructure. Coming later in 2024, you will be able to conduct EWL directly in SiteMap® so that both your GPRS Project Manager and 811 locator know where you intend to dig.

All GPRS Project Managers are certified in the Subsurface Investigation Methodology (SIM), which means they’ve completed more than 80 hours of classroom training and 320 hours of mentored field work to hone their skills in using a multi-technology approach to subsurface utility mapping.

A worker reviews a laptop.
SiteMap® will soon offer the ability to electronic white line (EWL) your project site.

Our SIM-certified Project Managers ensure that you receive accurate information about what’s under the ground and where those objects are located, so that you can avoid costly and potentially dangerous subsurface damage. And SiteMap® makes EWL easier by giving you instant access to that information.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and most importantly, safe.

What can we help you visualize? Click the links below to schedule a service or request a quote today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is electronic white lining?

Electronic white lining (EWL) is simply a virtual way of conducting white lining, which is the process in which a contractor or excavator will visually mark their intended dig area with white paint or flags so that a utility locator knows where they need to scan.

For EWL, the process involves marking the dig area on an overhead image of the site using lines or polygons, then transmitting that information to the locator without the need of a site walk.

How do you get a white line for locates?

White lining and EWL are provided to a utility locator by the contractor or excavator performing the groundbreaking work. The contractor or customer will outline the work area (where they plan to cut or dig) so the utility locator can limit the scope of their work to that space.

How do you read dig alert markings?

The 811 One Call hotline system in each state has implemented specific color codes for marking all utility locates nationwide. You can learn more here.

Does GPRS offer same-day private utility locating?

Yes. In many cases, our Project Managers can respond rapidly to emergency, same-day private utility locating service calls on your job site. With over 500 Project Managers strategically stationed across every major market in the U.S. GPRS always offers our industry-leading utility locating services near you.

What type of information does GPRS provide when performing a utility locate?

Our Project Managers will flag and/or paint our findings directly on the surface, depending on your specific needs.

This method of communication is the most accurate form of marking when excavation is expected to commence within a few days of service. Additionally, GPRS uses a global positioning system (GPS) to collect data points of findings.

Our in-house Mapping & Modeling team uses this data to generate a plan, .KMZ file, satellite overlay, or CAD file to permanently preserve results for future use.

You also receive a SiteMap® Personal subscription with every GPRS Utility Locate.