2017 Semifinalist
City of Dayton, OH
January 1, 2017

Within the City of Dayton, there are thousands of utility street cuts (“cuts”) within the roadways from utility excavation. A utility street cut is an area of the roadway that has been dug into by a utility company or their contractor to do work to their underground utility and then restored at a later date. If a cut becomes a safety hazard, or fails, it is up to the utility company as the “owner” to make full repairs for the lifetime of the cut. When previously trying to identify the owner of an unsafe or deteriorating cut, it could take minutes to days to determine the owner; typically, the city’s utility inspector would head into the field to investigate the complaint on site. Once on site, they would first confirm that this is in fact a utility street cut, and not a pothole, and would then look for any visible clues (manholes, water valves, etc.) to determine the owner. If no success, they would search through a Microsoft Access database on a laptop, based upon an address, for any permits issued. If this yielded no results, they would either look in the office for old paper records or call the Ohio Utility Protection Services to mark all utilities in the area of the cut. This could take days and further extends the unsafe roadway hazard. In 2011, city engineers began to discuss an idea to embed RFID tags programmed with the owner and utility permit number that would be placed in every cut during the restoration process in the field. In April 2013, after working with CDO Technologies, a local systems integrator, the team developed the technology and materials needed to officially begin this project. Since inception, when the utility company or their contractor pulls a permit with the city, they are issued preprogrammed RFID tags that will be placed within the asphalt during the restoration process of their cut. The tags are durable and strong enough to read several inches below the pavement. Now, when a complaint is received on a post-2013 cut, the utility inspector uses their handheld device to scan the cut for the RFID tag and instantly the owner is displayed on the screen. To date, the city has issued over 10,900 RFID tags to utility companies or their contractors with few obstacles observed, and has seen an increase in overall workmanship since inception.