Sam Hall and Kelly Cahill from CGA - Coffee with Jim and James Episode 171

Episode 169 February 26, 2024 00:50:16
Sam Hall and Kelly Cahill from CGA - Coffee with Jim and James Episode 171
Coffee With Jim & James
Sam Hall and Kelly Cahill from CGA - Coffee with Jim and James Episode 171

Feb 26 2024 | 00:50:16


Hosted By

James Cross Jim Schauer

Show Notes

Join us as we dive deep into the world of damage prevention with Sam Hall and Kelly Cahill from Common Ground Alliance (CGA).

Discover the cutting-edge initiatives aimed at safeguarding our underground utilities.


Keep up with Kelly and Sam and what they are doing in the Damage Prevention world!

Kelly Cahill - CGA 

Sam Hall - CGA 

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:24] Speaker A: What do you always say, Jay? Don't say anything that'll get you kicked off an election or something like that. [00:00:29] Speaker B: That's for sure. Or get me kicked off an election. Yeah. I'm not looking forward to being canceled either the show or myself. [00:00:37] Speaker C: Personally, James, I've always thought of you as a man with high political aspirations. [00:00:44] Speaker B: I told my wife I wanted to be the mayor in our sleeping little town. And there's been a lot of political things going on this past year. And she told me this weekend, I do not approve you ever running for mayor, which is really what I was looking for, because there's too much dirt on me. We're live. Just like that. That's a master the cold open. You too could have a podcast. Jimmy, we're doing something. It's weird to say rare now, but a lot of our time spin out on the road and we run into people and we do a lot of live recording. And while we're out. But today we're back in our little boxes, just like old time's sake. [00:01:32] Speaker A: It's a little weird, James. It's a little confining. Although Sam and I were fortunate enough to spend some time at a damage prevention conference last week in Louisiana live, as we say, shoulder to. [00:01:44] Speaker B: So Kelly and I were working the whole time. Somebody's got to keep this world know. [00:01:49] Speaker C: Thank goodness for you guys. We were just out there. I really enjoyed that. Jim. That was a great moment and really appreciated you guys being there. And I know you got some great interviews there. [00:02:02] Speaker A: Yeah, we did. It was a great event. And again, anytime you get 200 or 2000 people together that are interested in damage prevention and that have a purpose and a passion behind it, it's wonderful. I mean, just the collaboration and the ideas and the thought processes that are being shared is fantastic. So that's also why we're here, too. [00:02:23] Speaker B: Absolutely. [00:02:24] Speaker A: Another event of collaboration. [00:02:27] Speaker B: So in the spirit of that, I'm sure there's a few people that don't have the Internet, so I hope they're listening on their phones. But Sam and Kelly, do us a favor. Introduce yourselves and who you're with. [00:02:40] Speaker C: Thanks. My name is Sam hall. I'm the vice president of the Damage Prevention Institute, which is a program in the Common Ground alliance. I've been with CGA since June of 2022. [00:02:50] Speaker D: And I'm Kelly Cahill, CGA's communications director. I've been with the organization for a little over a year and worked with the organization for over a decade. [00:03:04] Speaker C: Fantastic. [00:03:05] Speaker B: Welcome. I'm James Cross. I run a cut rate podcast. No, I'm kidding. I appreciate y'all coming on. And look at Kelly. She's even drinking the coffee. Like, is it coffee or tea? Be honest. [00:03:19] Speaker D: It's tea. We're firmly in the tea portion of my day. [00:03:24] Speaker B: Absolutely. [00:03:25] Speaker C: Afternoon tea it is. [00:03:27] Speaker B: Well, I'm not going to steal Jim's joke, because he's been waiting to use it all week, but I do want us to get into this episode, and part of what we wanted to break down was actually, it's something that I've learned over the last six months or so. Sam, I think we met, was it in Louisville at APGA, maybe for the first time, we knew of each other. [00:03:52] Speaker C: Good. [00:03:53] Speaker B: Formally shook hands. And even in that conversation, talking to you about DPI and CGA, I learned a lot. And that was one of the things I wanted to kind of start today off with. I don't know that everybody understands the connection. They may know one or the other, but could you break that down for our audience, maybe those that don't live in the damage prevention world? [00:04:19] Speaker C: Sure. And Kelly and I can tag team this. Absolutely. The common Ground alliance is the national nonprofit that is focused on eliminating excavation damages to underground utilities and protecting the people who live and work near those utilities. We are a 501. The money we collect from our members goes back into the industry. We focus on educational resources. We focus on data collection. We focus on the development of best practices, identifying technologies that are useful in reducing damages, and doing lots and lots of research that can help us all drive damages down. Excavation damages represent, by our account, about $30 billion of lost money in the economy with a b, 30 billion annually. And there are other estimates floating around that are much, much higher. So it is of great importance to our members and to the integrity of our infrastructure across the country that we all work together to reduce excavation damage. We have 16 stakeholder groups that we represent that we enjoy as our members, which means that we have all of the primary players in the damage prevention world as members, and we work on a consensus based process, meaning that whatever we do, we do with the blessing and the buy in of all of our stakeholders. We are not an excavation association. We are not an operator association. We're not a locator association. We are an association of all of these stakeholders who have come together to try to reduce excavation damage. I mentioned a couple of our programs, the best practices, the resources, the research, et cetera. But you asked about the damage prevention Institute. Right here. [00:06:12] Speaker B: The DEI looks like a NASCAR driver. [00:06:18] Speaker C: We're serious. We're serious about this podcast. And by the way, very pleased to be with you on this podcast today. Thank you very much for inviting us. [00:06:26] Speaker A: Always. [00:06:27] Speaker B: Yep. [00:06:27] Speaker C: So, the damage Prevention Institute, or DPI, is a program within CGA. It is a part of CGA. It's nothing separate from the CGA. It was born on January 1 of 2023. The focus of the damage prevention institute is really reduction of excavation damages. And to understand the damage Prevention institute, it's really important that you understand a database that we have been using for about 18 years now to collect lots of information on excavation damages. That database is called dirt or damage information reporting tool. And Jim wants to dig into dirt. [00:07:17] Speaker A: You stole my line, Sam. Yeah, let's dig into dirt, brother. [00:07:20] Speaker B: He's been watching that all week. Like he was so excited this morning and he couldn't decide. His only crossroad was whether he was going to say pun intended or not intended. We work hard over here at Energy world map. No, that's right. Into what we were talking about, the dirt report. Right. So, Kelly, did he miss anything? Be honest. You're supposed to be filling in the gaps. You're his second eyes. [00:07:55] Speaker D: I think Sam did a wonderful job. I do think that that aspect of us having all the stakeholders at the table is a huge differentiator for our organization and how much we are focused on investing back into the industry. The other piece that I think kind of ties are digging into dirt with some of the work that Sam and my colleagues are doing with the damage Prevention institute is a move from the shared responsibility line that we have used in damage prevention for a very long time, and it's certainly still true. That is definitely a shared responsibility. There's so many stakeholders involved in making an excavation go safely, go well. But with the DPI, I think what we're super excited about is the shared accountability that some of that data sharing and data submission is going to mean for the industry as a whole. It's a huge game changer, and I'm super excited about what it will mean to have folks submitting these damages on a monthly basis, for example, rather than an annual basis. Think of how much more quickly we can produce insights in the coming years as a result of that. [00:09:11] Speaker C: Yeah. [00:09:11] Speaker B: You can't manage what you can't measure. Right. And the more frequent that we're measuring it, the better off we are. Right. It moves it from lagging to leading. Well, I mean, it's still lagging a little bit, but starting to move that needle. [00:09:26] Speaker C: You know, the, know, you said it, what gets measured gets managed. Right. So the idea behind the DPI is to build on our dirt database. And the dirt database again, damage information reporting tool is a database of excavation damages that occur all across the country, Canada and some parts of Mexico and South America. So what we're able to do is by collecting information about these damages that have occurred. Where was it, what was damaged, what type of work was being done when it was damaged, any number of things. We can take all that information, and we do take all that information on an annual basis. And we analyze it to give us a sense of what's happening in the world. Granted, it's in arrears, right? We're looking at past, we're definitely looking at lagging indicators. But we are able to really point to some really incredible outcomes or analyses that can come out of the dirt database. If you haven't, go out to our website, Click on the dirt icon at the top of the page. It'll tell you what you need to know about dirt. We produce an annual report, and it is chock full of insights, insights that can support every member company and any company out there that cares about damage prevention in making decisions about how to reduce those damages. The power of the DPI the beauty of the DPi here is that we can take dirt to the next level. The dirt database is populated by data from all of our members or from many of our members. And from people who are non members as well. Anyone can contribute data to the dirt database. The DPI is a coalition, let's call it, of forward thinking companies from the excavation community, from the utility community, pipeline operators, utility operators. And from the contract locating community. The people who go out and they put paint on the ground. To tell those excavators where those underground utilities are. It's an opportunity for those companies to come together and collect even more information, right? So, for example, the dirt database can tell us that failure to call eight one one is the leading cause of excavation damages. Locating practices are another major challenge excavator behavior. In the field around utilities that are underground already, there is a major factor. What the DPI can help us do is understand why some things happen and why some things don't. So if you can imagine being able to understand, for example, how a contract or contract terms impact performance. You really start to be able to dig into, pun intended, some of the true realities that we're all facing in the industry. So if I can show. If we can show through the damage prevention institute that contractors and locators perform quite well, under this kind of contract and perform differently under another kind of contract, we start to really focus on those systemic challenges that we're all facing. We can tell you that people aren't calling eight one one. We can't tell you why. Is it get it done. Itis? Is it hurry up and make sure that the foreman is happy? Is it an oversight? Is it something to do with processes in the companies that are part of the DPI? There are a variety of things we can pull out, and you can really use your imagination when you think about some of the systemic challenges we need to tackle. So what happens in the dirt or in the damage prevention institute is that we get monthly data on these excavation damages from the companies that are participating in the DPI, and they also tell us how they're doing on specific metrics that are related to their particular industry. For excavators, how many damages are you encountering per 10,000 hours of work for facility owner operators, how well are you providing maps to locators and excavators in the field locators? Are you locating these facilities on time? And are you doing so accurately? What's the quality of your work? These are really important data points, not just for an individual company to understand their own performance and to be able to understand their performance against their peers, but it's also a really powerful tool to start to pull out those broader issues, those things that impact us all, like contracts, like technology. The use of technology by one company can certainly have a major impact. So that's exciting. One of the things that we're finding this year. So exactly 13 months after we started the damage prevention institute, we have embarked on a peer review process. We're piloting peer reviews, and we're doing that with excavators only at this point. And we brought together several variations of groups of people to do peer reviews. And what these really look like is it's a round robin discussion of how companies are doing business, how organizations are doing business, and how they're focused on reducing excavation damages. Those discussions are incredibly valuable, and we're finding that they have great potential to change culture and to change behavior within the organizations that participate. One of the great pieces of feedback we got from one of our pilot project pilot peer review participants was that it felt like five to 6 hours of free consulting on how we can do a better job of preventing excavation damage. And, I mean, you can't ask for a better outcome than that, right? People really do learn when they talk to one another. And so the DPI Common Ground alliance provides a forum for people to do that. [00:15:37] Speaker A: And how often does that happen? Being an ex operator as well as an ex contractor, I'm going through my process right now in my brain where all that data that you all collect actually comes from ex people like me. Meaning you have to be kind of to say that we kind of messed up, but you want the best of the industry. So here's what we did. Here's what happened. Here's whatever you folks take it so we can compile it and then spread it out. That spreading out of messages, where and when do those take place? [00:16:09] Speaker C: So for our annual dirt report that takes place on an annual basis, we typically publish that report towards the end of the summer every year. The DPI, because we are such a new program within the common Ground alliance, we're focused on how we can present out information through an annual report. Okay. But the power of the DPI for our participants is that you can go into the dirt database. We've established an instance of dirt, let's call it a version of dirt, specifically for DPI participants. We're collecting more data in that version of dirt, that DPI version of dirt than we would collect in the normal dirt database. And we are then able to, we're not quite there yet, but we will very shortly be able to dashboard a lot of information for our participants. [00:17:03] Speaker B: KPIs and all that data you're able to give back, crunch it, show it across multiple sectors or stakeholder types, I assume. [00:17:14] Speaker C: Yeah, man, you got it. That's exactly right. Now you can start to talk about, all right, how does one company compare to its peers? We're not going to be exposing people's dirty laundry. That's not the idea. This is not a shame game. This is not about deciding who's good or bad. This is not about saying that someone's qualified to do something or not. Not at all. That's not a certification at all. What it really is, though, is an opportunity to understand how you are performing against your peers in an anonymous way. We do not expose companies performance to the broader world. It's not about shaming anyone or about putting a feather in people's caps, but they can see for themselves how well they are doing. And through the proper setup and dirt, you can also see how other people are doing. So, for example, if you are a utility owner, you're a pipeline operator, for example, and you want to see how the prime contractors that you've hired and how their subs are doing, you can identify those contractors in their subs, you can share data with them privately and independently. And now you can start to play with each other's data and really focus on how you are performing as an individual company. So it's like this two tiered power system for our participants. How am I doing then? We at CGA and as a broader industry can say, ok, why are you doing it the way you're doing it? What can we do to explain your performance? If it's poor, there are reasons. If it's high, there are reasons. Let's talk about those reasons. So it's really a powerful tool for both of those purposes. [00:18:54] Speaker B: Love it. I have a question. I'm a data nerd, Sam Kelly. I get excited about it. I'll be honest. I took the dirt report and I put it in AI so I could understand what it was y'all were talking about when it came out. I did, and I was like, look here. And I gave it to everybody in the company was like, here's what information is here, right. Because you know how it is. When you're in it, you're in it. You understand the data and all that. But for someone that isn't filing that information or sharing that information at the moment, I want to have a good idea of what it is that's coming out. I guess my question is what types of data? I understand the ticket system in that part, but what all is in that data? And is there a limit to it? [00:19:47] Speaker C: I guess, yeah, that's a good broad ranging question. Kelly, feel free to jump in. So what's in the data again, it's data about damages that have occurred. Right. And you're going to know the parties that were involved. You'll understand the circumstances, you'll understand the root cause of that damage and a variety of other things about the damage. Right. So the dirt report, you can draw great conclusions from it. Right. You write up a report, it is a snapshot of the data in time. It's certainly not comprehensive. And you can slice and dice data any way you want. Right. You can tell any story you want with data. One of the things that we have done is to create a dashboard of the data that's in the dirt database that accompanies every annual dirt report. And it's a totally interactive dashboard. If you go out on our website and you go to the dirt page, you'll see the ability to interact with the data. You can start to slice and dice it all for yourself. You can really dig in. You can understand trends in the types of work that are done when damages occur, you can understand trends in natural gas distribution, excavation damages. You can really slice and dice the data and play with it a lot of ways. Does that mean that it tells us everything we need to know? No, it does not tell us everything we need to know. Hence the damage prevention institute. Let's get past the limitations of dirt. Let's focus on collecting additional data that is really essential to understanding why these root causes are what they are. And let's tackle those systemic challenges that we are all facing that really limit our ability to reduce damages. [00:21:34] Speaker D: Yeah, that's a great point. And I would say also that some of those ways that we already are able to slice and dice the data within dirt do provide us with great high level insights. So we know, for example, that natural gas facilities and telecom facilities, year over year, are always the top two damaged facility types. We know that when damages occur as a result of failure to notify eight, one, one. The vast majority of the work that's occurring when those damages occur is construction type work, which is distinct from some of our other top damage driver root causes. So, for example, like locating root causes or failure to pothole, failure to maintain clearance, some of those excavation root causes, utility work is actually the top work performed when those types of damages occur. So better connection between players who are already in this space. I mean, people who are motivated, should be motivated to prevent damages to their own facilities. If we can just get folks working together a little bit better, we can make a huge impact. And 55 are our big effort to reduce damages by 50% over the next five years. A lot of what we're doing to try to make those huge reductions is look at where we can make our biggest ROI. What are the biggest chunks of damage right now? What types of work or organizations can we tap into to make some of those foundational changes and make big gains in public safety and utility reliability? [00:23:10] Speaker A: Kelly, you mentioned 55, and I have to say, james and I, last year in Orlando, first we were blown away by the amount of folks that were there and the cross collaboration and the sessions and all the learning, et cetera. [00:23:23] Speaker B: That's a great event. [00:23:25] Speaker A: Yeah, it was a fantastic event. I think it's a good little segue to bring up something that might be happening. Let me rephrase that. That is happening in April of this year, this year's event. I'd like to go into that. Let's talk a little bit about 55 in relation to now, this being now, one year after the announcement of it. [00:23:45] Speaker D: Absolutely. So you two had a front row seat to a huge part of the unveiling of that campaign, which we did in Orlando at the 2023 CGA conference and Expo. And you've got some great interviews there. I'm interested in your thoughts. But for us, I thought that the momentum that we have built, like capturing that energy at conference where we had 1200 damage prevention leaders all together, and then we've really been building on that momentum. I think over the last year, some of the dirt report findings help us create that sense of urgency. We also released some research on the telecom sector in particular, but 55 is also going to be a huge focus of our 2024 conference taking place April 14 through 18th in Colorado Springs. You two will be there. Looking very forward to that. [00:24:42] Speaker B: And Ashley, I believe Ashley is going to be there too. Coffee with Jim and James and sometimes Ashley. We're making that a thing. [00:24:51] Speaker D: We need Ashley. We need Ashley at CGA conference. But I know Sam and I and our colleagues are working on a ton of sessions for CGA conference that will focus very specifically on some of the recommendations from our research and data over the last year and how we can operationalize some of those, bringing in again leaders in the industry. CGA has done a lot of work to document some of these very forward thinking members of ours who have made incredible reductions by taking a look at their data and making data informed decisions about it. So I'm really excited about what we're going to be able to show. Case at conference, some hugely important discussions, and we're going to have a ton of technology providers both on the expo floor and outside doing some live demos that can't say enough about how huge of a role technology has to play in achieving this massive goal. [00:25:55] Speaker A: Well, it really does. Let me just jump in real quick, James. I just want to stick on when last year when we were there, ground zero, so to speak, and all of a sudden, I think Sarah was the one that announced the 55 reduce damages by 50% in five years. There was a little bit of shock in the audience and then afterwards we're like, that's a goal. That's a big goal. And then people started to really talk about, they're like, yeah, well, again, I guess we have to have a goal. Do we want to exceed that? Yes. Are we a little bit like saying, oh, that's a lot of work we have to do to get to 50%? But that doesn't matter because when we stood back and looked, we had telecom folks talking to natural gas folks talking to power folks, and all these people saying, well, what do you do? What do you do? And that's the part for me that just really opened it up to saying, these are all these folks that are really looking for the betterment. And again, a lot of us were like, 55 is a big thing, but I think you hear it day in and day out now, and kudos to that whole initiative. [00:27:05] Speaker C: 55 is a very lofty goal. It's a lofty goal, right. But look, if we achieve 25 and five, wow. I mean, hey, 25% reduction in damages would be a tremendous reduction. It would improve public safety immensely. It would reduce wasted time, wasted cost for all of these organizations that are involved. So it is a really lofty goal. We know that the best way to get to 55 is for individual organizations, companies to drive their numbers to 50% down. Right. And then collectively, their industries will likewise drive their damages down. We do that across the board. We really do start to reach that goal. So 2028 is the deadline. One of the things that we are doing is developing an index of companies or companies or organizations that are reliably reporting very high quality data to the damage information reporting tool. And if you think about the Nasdaq or you think about the S and P 500, these are indexes, right. These are companies that together, when you measure their performance as a group, you can extrapolate the performance of the rest of the industry. We're doing a very similar thing. So it's very important to understand, if you're going to reduce damages by 50%, how are you going to measure that? And that is our plan for doing just that. The other thing that I wanted to. [00:28:37] Speaker B: Mention was, I just wanted you to know, before you move on, that I just bought 200 calls on the index already, hopefully in a year. I'm kidding. I love the idea. [00:28:50] Speaker C: I need to get in what's going on? [00:28:53] Speaker B: It's in a different place in the Internet. I love that idea, though. It's exactly what this is shooting for. You talked about data, you talked about tech, you talked about the reports, the telecom white paper. I know we talked about that in a pre meeting. The dirt report coming out. All of these parts, so important to moving that needle. I feel like I'm about to open up Pandora's box a little bit because I know Sam so well. But another big part of that that we really haven't talked about is the mapping. Right? I mean, it's so important. And it wouldn't be a conversation with Sam if he didn't footstop mapping a little. [00:29:36] Speaker A: It. [00:29:36] Speaker C: He's got a, you know, you really do have to talk mapping in this and I do have a background in mapping and in particular pipeline mapping. It is important to me, mapping, just to step back from mapping for a minute. Mapping is one of what we call our next practices. Right? Improving facility maps, utility maps of utilities. Improving those maps and making sure that they get in the hands of the people who need them in the field. It's one next practice of several next practices. And these next practices encompass things like having very strong contracts in place between facility owner operators who are funding the work typically, right. It's utility work that's damaging utilities. So they need to hire good contractors and they need to have ironclad contracts that really are respectful of real world experiences that take into account the things that people are going to have challenges with. Right? Same thing with locating and marking. Those contracts matter so much. So these are next practices. These are practices that we can use to get to 55. And if you go out on our website, you can read all about those next practices. They're simple, they're very straightforward mapping. Yeah baby, we got to do the mapping. And mapping is a sticky widget. It actually is an emotional thing, believe it or not, as much as it is a technical challenge. From a technical perspective, mapping is nothing new. It's not a moonshot here. Everybody knows that you can map things that are underground. There are many companies out there that are doing this and providing that service. Many owner, many utility operators, pipeline operators, whatever it might be, they are focused on mapping as well. Everyone seems to understand the value of mapping. But sharing maps and making them available, now, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to give your mapping databases away, right? You can give a look into maps through services or what have you. But when we know that when contractors, excavators in the field have a map, they're going to do better, they're going to be able to verify that the marks on the ground are consistent with what's on this map. A facility locator, the guy that's going out and locating that underground utility and marking it with paint on the ground, they're going to have an easier time of getting that done with facility maps. Maps don't have to be perfect for this process at all. They do not have to be engineering grade. If you're on the right side of the road, hey, that's good information. Maps do not supplant the eight one one system at all. Maps cannot be used in place of the proper eight one one process. That would be. It's counter to everything that we focus on. But maps are just so essential. And having talked to many companies, many utility operators, there are lots of concerns about sharing their maps. And they're legitimate concerns in many cases. In some cases, they're arguable. Right. That's just the way it is. Right. Again, there are some emotions around this. Issues around competitive advantage can be a challenge. Issues around security of the underground utilities, misuse of the maps for nefarious purposes can be a challenge. Sure. Issues around funding and financing for a small municipality can be a challenge for mapping. The point is, if you can get maps in the hands of the field people that need them, and you can limit those maps to just the excavation area that's defined on that eight one one ticket. Right. You're not sharing all the maps. You're simply sharing that extent, that excavation area extent with people. We go a long way to fixing the problem. A lot of the arguments against sharing maps kind of fall flat, frankly, when you think about the locating process and the excavating process, because let's talk about it. When you go out and you mark the locations of utilities underground, you are drawing a one to one scale map on the ground. It's on the ground. The paint's there. By law, it must be there. If you want to know where those facilities are, you call eight one one. The maps are not the only way to get to this information. And if we're talking about maps only for support of the eight one one process, we're not talking about exposing anything that won't be exposed through that eight one one process. Right. You're going to paint a map on the ground. You're not exposing anything that isn't going to be exposed by the paint on the ground. [00:34:24] Speaker D: Or permanent pipeline markers. Right. [00:34:27] Speaker C: Permanent pipeline markers or any variety of appertinences and things that tell us that something is there. Right? So mapping, to me, is just a huge thing. We have really enjoyed the partnership of the Minnesota eight one one center, go for state one call. They are doing an incredible pilot project to do just this by cooperating with facility operators, utility operators, and with engineering and design firms to really get these maps in the hands of the people that need them. And they're building a coalition of the willing who are really going to get this done. And I feel pretty strongly that it's going to get legs, and it's going to get legs quickly. There are also lots of disruptors out there. Sorry, Kelly. There are lots of disruptors out there who are really pushing the boundaries of what's possible with mapping and are moving past what facility operators are actually doing. They're producing independent sources of mapping information. That also causes the argument against sharing maps to fall flat. Right. So there's just a lot going on there. I'm a huge proponent of it. All of our members are generally big proponents of this and we've actually seen that the facility operating community, those utility owner operators, they are actually believing more and more in mapping over time. As we survey their attitudes about mapping, they're feeling more and more comfortable about it. By a lot. By a lot. We're not there yet, but it's getting there. And boy is it important. [00:35:59] Speaker A: We're getting there. And I go back to my years of an operator as well as a contractor being in a conference room where we went over, remember the paper maps and we would actually work with the contractors to say this is the area, this is what we're looking at. And I remember back in the day they were like, we believe it's here. Let's just verify again through eight one one making sure. But this is the general idea. So we have to be cognizant of this t we have to be cognizant of this, et cetera. And that communication is absolutely, I think we're all in the same echo chamber with this. Mapping is great and it's a good way to do safe, reliable projects and such. One thing that I wanted to talk about when we're talking about this and mapping in that some of it also goes to awareness and this might be more in Kelly's world. There's something that coming up that we see every year called National Safe digging Month. Now again, it's the month, but safe digging happens 365 days a year. But this is really the month that we really herald that. Kelly, your thoughts on safe digging month and what that means to you? Probably a very busy time for you, I would imagine a hugely busy time for us. [00:37:17] Speaker D: And you're right, Jim, that of course safe excavation is important. 365 or in the case of 2024, a leap year, 366. But we do like to use National Safe digging month, which is April of every year, to really highlight to everyone across the board, whether it's the casual homeowner, weekend warrior, but certainly most importantly our professionals who are excavating on a daily or weekly basis for their jobs, how important the eight one one system is and all of the ways that you can utilize it to make sure that you are having a safe and productive dig no matter what your line of work is. So every year CGA produces a national safe digging month toolkit for all of our members that has a ton of great content if you are eager to help spread the word about the importance of safe digging. So we've got press releases, social graphics. We do a study of the american people every year that produces some nice media stats for any of your earned media outreach. So please check out our toolkit and help us spread the word there. And of course, we'll all be, at least all four of us, probably with 1300 or 1400 of our closest friends, will be in Colorado Springs. So it's really been awesome for the industry that our conference takes place during that month every year because it's a great time to share among all of our different members what they are doing to get this message in front of the people who need to hear it most. [00:39:06] Speaker A: Well, I can tell you, I think I'll speak for James and Ashley as well as all of energy world that we are 100% behind that in getting that message. It's so important. It really is important. And if it helps one person be safer and save a life, or save somebody from getting injured or again, damage to any infrastructure, we're behind it. [00:39:26] Speaker D: Thank you. [00:39:28] Speaker B: You were telling us before that you all have some big things coming that month. I don't know if we can talk about them or anything, but I know you all have some exciting things in the pipeline. [00:39:40] Speaker D: We do. [00:39:41] Speaker B: Allegedly. [00:39:43] Speaker D: Allegedly. Happy to tease them here a little bit. We typically make some kind of big splash ourselves in April, so we will be making a big announcement at our conference. Conference attendees will hear it first. It's something I'm really excited about. I know something that's a passion of Sam's as well. So we hope folks will be able to join us in Colorado Springs to get the very hottest, freshest news there. But we'll of course be sharing it with everybody who's not able to attend later that month. And we also are really excited about having some social media influencers at our conference and doing an influencer campaign this year. You too. Jim and James are among our I must be desperate. We're very much looking forward to having you at conference and chatting with folks and getting the tea from everybody. [00:40:39] Speaker B: Love it. Love it. Well, I keep texting Sam. He's pretty tight lipped. He won't tell me. So you all must not have told him either what the big scoop is. He won't crack. [00:40:50] Speaker C: Compartmentalized. I don't know the whole story. No one in the association does. [00:40:55] Speaker A: We just are all going to learn at the conference build and build with excitement. Until we're there. How does that. [00:41:02] Speaker C: That's right. I like it. [00:41:03] Speaker A: And then we're going to shout it from the mountaintops. [00:41:06] Speaker B: Literally. Another pun. He's on a roll. I also know here over the last couple of months, or at the end of last year, moving into this quarter, you guys also had an initiative around a curriculum. That's a tough word. Someone. [00:41:26] Speaker A: Curriculum. [00:41:27] Speaker B: Yeah. Do you want to talk about that? I don't know. Who's the expert there, Kelly? Probably. [00:41:32] Speaker D: Go ahead. Sam, you want to tee it up? [00:41:34] Speaker C: Sure. I'll do my best. So, yes, we are working on creating some educational materials. Right. One of the challenges that was identified, actually, by the National association of Pipeline Safety Representatives, the NAPSA. These are all the pipeline safety regulators at the state level. They, back in 2019, really started to identify that training was critically important to ensuring that excavators know what they're doing in the field. Now, we know that there are lots of root causes that are not associated with excavator behavior. So let me be very clear about this. This is not about targeting excavators as the reason things go wrong, but there are reasons things go wrong associated with excavator behavior. And so the more we can train excavators and contractors out in the field, the better chance we stand of getting the best kind of behavior that we need. So there are lots of training programs out there, some wonderful companies that produce training materials like your own, and we don't want to compete with any of that. What we're interested in is filling the gaps. We want to create a set of training materials, very small, short videos that can stand on their own or they can be incorporated into other training curricula that are owned by other people. These will be free of charge and free to use. And then you can also, eventually, as we build content, you can create your own learning path based on. I'm an excavator in the field, I'm a newer employee, and I use hand tools. I need to know as much as I can about using that hand tool properly and safely in the field so you can create these training paths. It's a new initiative. We've got one training module that we've produced and that has been tested at an eight one one center to a great fanfare. It was very well received, and it does fill a gap in the training that others need and want, and we want to do more of that, and we will be doing more of that. And I'd be remiss if I don't mention that the pipeline and hazardous materials Safety Administration. FEMSA is funding part of that work and we're very grateful for that. That's awesome, man. [00:43:53] Speaker B: We've mentioned FeMSA and NaPSA in the same episode. I think somewhere Steve Allen just went. What? He's so excited right now. He didn't have to name drop it today. We love Steve Allen. He knows that. That's awesome. I know that's a big initiative. I'm sure a big initiative. I know it's been going on for quite some time, but a big one that's off the ground and running here in 2024 and years to come. You all have so much going on. I don't know how you found the time to sit down with us. You're probably backed up somewhere. You probably have meetings to go to. But we really appreciate you all sitting down. I've learned a lot, which probably doesn't say but, and I wanted to say one thing. Jim will know this. I saved my tangent card just in case mapping got out of. Oh, but I'm going to play my tangent card and say kudos, sir. You played it well. I didn't even have to use it. [00:44:52] Speaker C: I'm so glad of that. [00:44:55] Speaker B: We love a good tangent. [00:44:56] Speaker C: I could have gone on and on big time. [00:44:59] Speaker A: When safety is the tangent, not to interrupt, but when safety is the tangent, I'd say go, keep going. [00:45:07] Speaker C: Well, you mentioned that we do have a very full plate and we are very busy. We've got lots of irons in the fire. That's all possible because of our members. We enjoy the best membership you can get. These are dedicated industry professionals and they volunteer their time to make real change across the country. And without them all of this is impossible. So while we do work very hard as an association staff to make these programs a reality, it is our volunteers that do the legwork and that really are driving everything that we do. [00:45:43] Speaker B: Those committees, those subcommittees, all those people out there working for free, as we say. I know. I can say that we love what you all are doing. We are a member by proxy through our sister company, if you will. Damage prevention Academy. No relation. So we're very much connected. We love being out there. I can tell you. CGA event last year was one of the highlights of our year. We had a blast. So many great folks there. We got to sit down with so many people that it was epic. I remember leaving and you think, you know all the space from top to bottom that you've met everybody and what's this event going to do? And it just opened up a whole new group that I learned so much about at that show. And seeing 55 kind of in action, I wouldn't have had context prior. And so to hear the good, bad, and ugly, almost that guttural reaction of everyone there and then now I've got to see them at shows since then. Right? That was a year ago. And hearing them come together and seeing these initiatives that are now on rails. Right. They look like it's everybody else. I'm sure you all are back there scrambling, but you know what I mean? It's such a neat thing to see, to see that growth in the industry firsthand. I mean, in my opinion, I love it. I'm hooked. Please invite me forever. [00:47:19] Speaker D: You will. Thank you so much. We really appreciate that feedback, and we're very excited to have you both attend this year as well. I think that one thing I wanted to mention that you brought up is our committees very quickly. Yeah, the committees are. Our members are the lifeblood of CGA. The committees are really where the rubber meets the road. That's where the work happens. And if you want to have a voice in damage prevention at the national level, we really invite you to become part of our committees. So I just wanted to quickly mention that if you're coming to Colorado springs in April, make sure you get in on Sunday, April 14, because our committees are meeting first thing Monday the 15th, and please do come. [00:48:05] Speaker A: And I think that was a call to claim your seat at the table for those folks out in the industry. You see what I did there, James. [00:48:15] Speaker C: We would love committing participation from all of the fantastically dedicated people that we encounter across the board. [00:48:22] Speaker B: Absolutely. And Jim nodded at it, but we're actually speaking there as well on claim your seat at the table, which is that very thing. We're urging and pressuring, peer pressuring people. Just kidding. To get involved. Right? And there's so many seats at the table all across our industry. You can work for free alongside of. [00:48:43] Speaker C: Hey, you know, get involved and change the world. Let's do. Yeah. [00:48:48] Speaker B: Well, just like that. Y'all are podcast superstars. Jimmy, it wasn't so bad doing it virtual. I thought we were going to fall. [00:48:56] Speaker A: On our know, just getting together with friends like this and hearing this and being able to share and understand the messages and learn a couple of things each and every day. James, you and I say to each other, we learned something today, and that's the most important thing. If we can all do that in the industry, we will be better if we take that and then share it. [00:49:12] Speaker B: With someone 366 days a year for the rest of the year. That's my old man joke. Appreciate you all coming by and everything you all do for the industry. Truly, it's exceptional. And you all run a great group over there, and we're so excited to be at that show come April, hopefully everybody else, too. [00:49:35] Speaker C: Thank you so much for having us on today. Thank you very much for just making this a really enjoyable experience. Really appreciate you helping us amplify the message. Thank you. [00:49:47] Speaker B: We will chase you around this country if you say no. Just know that Sam is proof. [00:49:54] Speaker A: I can attest to him in Louisiana last week, allegedly. [00:50:00] Speaker B: Jimmy, as we always have done. Do the honors, my friend. [00:50:04] Speaker A: Well, this episode of coffee. Jimmy James has been a pleasure. We'll see you next time. Stay safe, everybody.

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