A More Efficient, Responsive, and Safer Damage Prevention Ecosystem?


Oct 13 2021


3:15 pm - 4:00 pm

A More Efficient, Responsive, and Safer Damage Prevention Ecosystem?


CGA and its stakeholders work diligently to improve damage prevention results every year but damage rates have flattened and even increased since 2015 after steady improvements before 2015.

Could the industry have reached “peak damage prevention” for what is possible under the current damage prevention system and paradigm? Are improvements in damage prevention still possible or realistic with the stakeholders just working harder or are changes to the system needed for significant further improvements?


The damage prevention system in the US is fundamentally little change since its creation ~40 years ago. The key stakeholders – facility owner, one call, locator, and excavator – are the same. Their responsibilities are the same. Tickets being due in 48/72 weekday hours are the same.

Meanwhile, technology has improved dramatically. There is now near ubiquitous wireless data connection. The typical smartphone today has more computing power than a 1970’s IBM mainframe that took up an entire room. The damage prevention industry uses some of these technologies but still under the rules of the same system.

Societal expectations have changed as well. In the 1980’s, requesting a service or buying a product on a Thursday and having to wait until next Monday or Tuesday for the transaction to be completed may have been the norm. Today, when Amazon offers same day delivery to more than 80% of the US population and Prime Now 2 hour delivery to more and more areas, when Uber/Lyft offers near instant car service, when GrubHub/Uber Eats offers near instant food delivery from almost every restaurant, an Excavator having to wait from Thursday until next week to dig because he/she has to wait for the Locator to locate even if he/she is willing to pay more for expedited service seems quaint at best and frustratingly inflexible and inadequate at worst.

Stakeholders usually attribute failures in the system to shortcomings of other stakeholders due to their cutting corners (e.g., insufficient staffing and/or training) or simple incompetence. But what if all of the stakeholders are acting rationally and optimally in the current system? What if all of the for-profit stakeholders are fulfilling their fiduciary duty to their shareholders and maximizing profits?

This presentation explores these questions, investigates the conflicting interests of the key stakeholders, and proposes some changes to the current damage prevention system that may yield better public safety results for all and lower costs for the facility owners, who currently bear the entire costs of the system.

  • Presenter: Jemmie Wang
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