Applying Augmented Reality (AR) to 811 One Call services to enhance damage prevention practices
Almost everyone is familiar with the Pokémon Goand other video games for Augmented reality (AR), so it’s not a major jump from there to business-related scenarios. Take Virginia 811 (VA811) for example, VA811 is the not-for-profit organization created by Virginia’s utilities to protect their underground facilities. As the User Journey below shows (see figure 1), the VA811 ticket requests have had significant AR functionality additions added as part of a proof of concept project (PoC), that allowed excavators to identify the location and nature of the proposed excavation activity by placing specific features on a map. These features are real life dig objects such as a tree, fence, mail box, etc. (see figure 2). These features are used as input for an Augmented Reality experience for the locate technician responding to the locate request while in the field. The business value of this technology is provided by improving communications between the excavator and the Locate Service provider in a damage prevention scenario.
Figure 1 One Call ticket dig objects such as a tree, fence, or mail box can be added to the web ticket. This function lends itself to not only rendering the features in two-dimensional map display but is used to provide input for an Augmented Reality experience for the locate technician.
Figure 2 Real life dig objects such as a tree, fence, mail box, etc. are placed onto a 2-dimensional map when the ticket is created.
Augmented Reality Platform
This VA811 augmented reality platform was created by VA811 with partners ProStar, a company that specializes in the development of precision mapping solutions and vGIS, a company specializing in the display of GIS data in augmented reality.
Augmented Reality business process improvement
The augmented reality experience is available for the locate technician while onsite in the field. If the locate technician launches the application and is within 75 meters of the identified dig site location, they will be able to view the proposed works on the mobile device view screen. Augmented reality on the mobile device view screen provides the Locate Technician a content rich view of the nature and location of proposed work items as shown in figure 3 below. This same AR application also allows the locate technician to capture an image of the locate mark-outs at the site with the AR imagery superimposed based on the information provided by the excavator via the web ticket request. This image could then available to form part of the permanent record for that locate.
Figure 3 Real life dig objects such as trees and a mail box displayed in augmented reality. Select the play button to launch the video.
ProStar has already started identifying augmented reality as an opportunity to improve department of transport, oil and gas, and municipal scenarios by providing precise 3-dimensional data to support augmented reality enhanced imagery to provide field users situational context.
The challenge is to know what the locate technician needs to see in augmented reality to do their job better. In this case, the VA811 team worked with locate technicians to determine that augmented reality would help the locate technicians communicate with the excavator better.
So, there are exciting times ahead for designers and developers and precision mapping solution providers, such as ProStar. As the mapping technology becomes more compelling, sophisticated, simpler, and more people become more comfortable with the use of AR, its value will increase, and AR will enter the damage prevention mainstream.