WHAT IS AS5488?
AS5488 is a standard that is applicable to the Australian underground asset mapping and location industry. First released in 2013, AS5488-2013 Classification of Subsurface Utility Information is a document intended to create a consistent framework for the collection, depiction, and communication of information abourt existing underground assets.
One of the key elements of AS5488 is the definition of a set of quality levels that can be associated with a service locate. The quality levels A through D are used to clearly define the way in which a service has been marked out or located, and the confidence that can be attached to its stated position.
The importance of such clear communication about a service locate has long been recognised by the Australian locating and subsurface utility engineering industries which is why an understanding of AS5488 and its application has been included as a competency requirement in the Dial Before You Dig (DBYD) Certified Locator scheme.
New Zealand has no similar standard and therefore no defined or consistent way to record or communicate information about the quality or confidence of a particular service locate. To introduce a certified Locator scheme without addressing this weakness would undermine the long term goal of improving locating outcomes and reduction of unnecessary damage to underground assets.
While use or reference to AS5488 is not required for any underground service location work carried out in New Zealand at this time, to achieve the "best practice" goals of the certification program it has been included as a competency element in both the theoretical and practical assessments.
Certification candidates will need to be able to show an understanding of the general purpose of AS5488, and the application of the four quality levels defined in the standard, to their work as a Locator.
As a Certified Locator you will not be required to use AS5488 in your work. However, you are encouraged to continue to do so to help lift the standard of locating in New Zealand. Such a consistent approach to quality and confidence communication is an important part of being a professional Locator.
AS5488 is not the only international framework that could be adopted, with similar standards or guidelines available in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Malaysia and Ecuador. Eventually, it is expected that New Zealand will have a suitable standard in place.