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Utility Pole Identification and Numbering Systems: 10 Expert Resources

For utility companies around the world, one of the assets that it is the most valuable – and most vulnerable – is none other than the utility pole. No matter what the utility pole is meant to provide the community, it’s easy to recognize the need for each and every pole to be properly identified and marked. This is especially true in precarious situations, such as natural disasters, in which utility companies must be able to swiftly and accurately attend to the very pole that might be damaged.

To do this, these companies attach specialized asset tags called utility pole tags, which are heavy-duty markers, like Camcode’s Metalphoto® Bar Code Pole Tag. These are designed to withstand exposure to harsh outdoor elements. The tools allow the rightful owner of the pole to streamline its inspections, keep track of the asset using GIS mapping services, and even identify the presiding company in times of legal disputes.

Utility Pole Identification

That being said, it takes more than utility companies investing in asset tags to keep its poles safe, identifiable, and trackable. In fact, developing sophisticated pole ID and numbering systems requires a working knowledge of utility poles, particularly their materials, anatomies, placements, and functions. Below are 10 expert resources that serve to explain the importance and logistics associated with utility pole identification, maintenance, and more:

  1. Standard Specifications for Wood Poles, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service
  2. ANSI 0.5 1-2017 – Wood Poles – Specifications and Dimensions
  3. Best Practices in Utility Asset Management: Maximizing the Value Lifetime of Your Assets, Camcode
  4. What is a Utility Pole Identification System?, Camcode
  5. Look Up! Anatomy of a Utility Pole, PSE&G
  6. Wood Utility Pole Life Cycle, The Environmental Literacy Council
  7. PG&E Automates Pole Inventory System, T&D World
  8. An Approach for Utility Pole Identification in Real Conditions, SpringerLink
  9. Using Deep Learning to Identify Utility Poles, Sensors
  10. Tag:power=pole, OpenStreetMap

To get more in-depth information on the 10 helpful resources, read on.

1. Standard Specifications for Wood Poles, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service

This paper, penned by two research general engineers from the USDA’s Forest Services, serves as an important expansion on the listed wood pole standards, as stipulated by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). In the report, readers get an informative look into all compliance laws associated with the installation and maintenance of wood poles, as well as a handful of practical scenarios that illustrate the techniques needed to correctly put the rules into place.

2. ANSI 0.5 1-2017 – Wood Poles – Specifications and Dimensions

ANSI 0.5 1-2017 is the American National Standards Institute’s official, and most current, ruling for wood poles. In addition to utility pole identification and marking standards, ANSI also goes deep into wood pole manufacturing requirements, modification allotments, and much more.

3. Best Practices in Utility Asset Management: Maximizing the Value Lifetime of Your Assets, Camcode

Camcode’s guide entitled Best Practices in Utility Management: Maximizing the Value Lifetime of Your Assets, brings forth a variety of important asset tracking information, including the categorization of utility assets, data collection, and tagging. All tips encourage utility companies to properly identify asset sources (e.g. utility poles) so that they can be easily identified for maintenance, audits, and emergency repair. Utility Pole Identification & Numbering Systems

4.  What is a Utility Pole Identification System?, Camcode

This classic guide serves as a primer for all things utility pole identification. Camcode’s What is a Utility Pole Identification System? includes a concise definition, a list of identification and asset tagging benefits for utility companies, and even a best practices section that includes Camcode product recommendations.

5.  Look Up! Anatomy of a Utility Pole, PSE&G

Utility powerhouse, PSE&G has published a short, yet detailed guide called Look Up! Anatomy of a Utility Pole. In it, the company provides readers with a variety of sections, with each one describing a unique feature of common utility poles. The guide includes a section on how PSE&G tags theirs – and even what they do when tags cannot be properly located.

6. Wood Utility Pole Life Cycle, The Environmental Literacy Council

The Environmental Literacy Council has its Wood Utility Pole Life Cycle guide available to access for free on its website. In it, the Council describes the mitigating factors that can negatively affect a wood utility pole’s lifespan. It’s important information for engineers to consider, especially when developing asset tag and accessory attachment protocol.

7. PG&E Automates Pole Inventory System, T&D World

T&D World’s report, PG&E Automates Poles Inventory System, discusses the massive investment that the large utility company made in a bid to electronically manage its database of 2.5 billion wood distribution poles. The report details PG&E’s steps into this world of revolutionary asset-tracking automation, as well as its controversial eschewing of GIS systems implementation.

8. An Approach for Utility Pole Identification in Real Conditions, SpringerLink

This conference paper, which is available via SpringerLink, was written by researchers from the Instituto Tecnológico de La Paz, México. In it, the engineers detail solutions to problems revolving around practical utility pole recognition, including amendments “based on color, shape and photometric stereo vision, by using conventional low-cost cameras.” Though the conference paper deals more with visibility and safety, some general preservation recommendations can be carried over for utility pole identification and numbering purposes. 

9. Using Deep Learning to Identify Utility Poles, Sensors

Written by researchers from the University of Connecticut, this report investigates the opportunity for the implementation of deep learning to “detecting utility poles from side-view optical images.” This research is paired with Google Street View Images to allow for more open, public, and communicative methods of utility pole identification.

10. Tag:power=pole, OpenStreetMap

Wiki’s OpenStreetMap provides users with practical info and searchable features that allow them to identify utility pole values, descriptions, and more. The guide includes a section on mapping and tagging, and how each differs depending on the part of the world in which the utility pole is installed.

Whether you’re looking to configure a new utility pole identification and numbering system or improve on an existing setup, these resources provide valuable, need-to-know information and guidance.

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