SolSpec to Present at 2019 Pipeline Technology Forum

SolSpec to Present at 2019 Pipeline Technology Forum

DENVER, Colorado – Sept. 26, 2019 – SolSpec, a provider of aerial analytics for integrity management of large scale land use projects, is pleased to announce an upcoming presentation at the 2019 Pipeline Technology Forum, to be held October 2-3 in Houston, TX.

SolSpec Chief Operating Officer, Bryan Crowe, will be presenting on Redefining Pipeline Safety with UAS-based Inspection Programs, 2:00 pm on Wednesday, Oct 2. (Conference Track Two: Remote Sensing and Emerging Technologies). Bryan will cover how the use of drones and advanced data analytics are helping midstream pipeline construction companies and operators monitor and identify possible vulnerabilities before they become safety hazards.

The Rising Need
Between 1999 to 2018, PHMSA reported a total of 11,991 incidents of compromised pipeline integrity, resulting in 318 deaths and 1,304 injuries, with over $8 billion USD in total cost (source) Most traditional Integrity Management programs look only at pipeline itself, leading to the development of technologies such as In-Line Inspection (ILI) tools to examine pipeline structure, strain, and stability. Yet a pipeline’s stability is also largely dependent on the stability of its environmental surroundings, as a pipeline can be perfectly built, but buried within a hillslope prone to mass soil movement resulting in an increased risk of a failure. Further, with record rain and extreme weather events resulting in widespread flooding, landslides, major soil changes, scouring, and erosion across the U.S., the risk is rising. PHMSA recently released an advisory bulletin about the potential for damage to pipeline facilities caused by earth movement and other geological hazards (see link).

Learn more through two case studies:

Operators need a more comprehensive, data-driven method to evaluate risk that goes beyond the physical pipe and includes its environmental context. Identifying environmental conditions on and off the ROW that may threaten the integrity of pipeline infrastructure is crucial for timely mitigation and adequate preparation for future challenges.

“Just as ILI technology is changing the way operators conduct internal pipe inspections, aerial analytics will transform external pipeline risk assessments and environmental inspections as part of comprehensive Right of Way Integrity Management,” said Bryan Crowe, COO of SolSpec.

Join SolSpec’s Bryan Crowe at the 2019 Pipeline Technology Forum for an informative talk on how aerial analytics are bringing greater value to pipeline integrity management programs. To view the full agenda and updated times for this event, please visit the event website.

The Pipeline Technology Forum is the major event of the year for geospatial professionals working in the oil and gas infrastructure sector. Produced in conjunction with Pipeline & Gas Journal, a Gulf Energy Information publication and the Geospatial Information Technology Association (GITA), the two-day forum features general sessions, technical presentations on the use of geospatial technologies, pipeline software and other applied technologies for the industry, panel discussions and exhibits.

About SolSpec
SolSpec was founded in 2016 to improve environmental and public safety and to increase efficiencies for the energy industry using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology. SolSpec’s Aerial Analytics platform represents best-in-class data processing and data management for all UAV and aerial imagery. Our analytics were born from 120 cumulative years in Natural Resource Sciences and are formulated to specifically predict and prevent unexpected occurrences in large scale land use projects. With SolSpec, you can make decisions from your desk instead of the field and ultimately reduce risk, time and expenditure. Visit us online at https://solspec.io/.

How can Big Data impact Land Reclamation?

How can Big Data impact Land Reclamation?

Toby Kraft, Founder and CEO of SolSpec, spoke about “Playing Offense and Being Industry Advocates” at the May 19, 2019 Summit for Reclamation and Construction. The annual Summit, hosted by Huwa Enterprises in Keenesburg, Colorado, is a unique conference where professionals come together to learn, share, and network with industry experts dedicated to protecting the environment.

“So as all good millennials do, I wake up every single day and spend every waking hour engaging with some social media platform,” Kraft opened, introducing the value of big data by drawing a common big data comparison with the advertising world. Social media platforms store extensive information related to their users’ interests, and the massive amount of data generated by millions of users drives much of the backbone of modern marketing.

Why let retail be the main industry that capitalizes on big data? Why aren’t the construction and reclamation and energy industries taking advantage of big data for their projects? These are the questions at the core of Toby’s presentation. Collecting data and providing information from past and current projects can build benefits for all – we can learn from the mistakes others have made and drive future success. “A lot of you are probably thinking ‘Yeah, okay, that sounds utopian,” quipped Kraft.

Big data can empower decision makers in the construction, energy, and reclamation industries and result in safer, more successful projects. But success can only come from working together to improve our industries’ practices. Kraft called on his colleagues at the Summit to remember that “our neighbor’s failure or our competitor’s failure is our failure.” Collaborating and building databases of geographic information doesn’t weaken your company or strengthen the opposition. Uniting our data and sharing information is the approach that will keep our industries strong, because without it our future work is threatened.

Kraft’s vision with SolSpec is not just to identify hazards that already exist. Combining data gathered regarding surface hydrology, soil information, geologic details, and the massive stores of siloed data that runs across the industry and third parties makes it possible to predict future hazards. A prioritized list of current and potential hazards empowers decision makers to prioritize mitigation efforts and resources, and do better work for long-term success and improved community relations.

Diving into real-life scenarios, Kraft highlighted for the audience the value and impact of data-driven solutions in land reclamation and construction. One example was Appalachia, one of the richest areas in natural gas in North America. Recent construction of infrastructure, more in the last five years than in the previous fifty, has resulted in loss of vegetation in deciduous forests. These forests and unconsolidated soils cover the characteristic steep slopes of the region. Big rainstorms in this context can cause mass soil movement and landslides, which compromise local pipelines and assets. Compromised pipeline and right-of-way integrity cause undue risk, environmental damage, and financial loss.

Another example Kraft discussed was California, which is dealing with increased threats from fires. Last year’s Camp Fire burned 150,000 acres, destroyed the city of Paradise, and killed 46 people. The likely cause of the fire was a spark from a utility asset that caught the vegetation near the asset. Data gathered from flyovers and processed with analytics can reveal vegetation encroachment. That information can help direct fire prevention efforts around existing utilities and stop a destructive disaster.

“What could the headlines look like a year from now if we all come together around these issues and we get ahead of it and we play offense? What could the future look like?” asked Kraft. Fewer disasters, increased efficiency, prioritized use of resources, and improved reputations for our industries. To learn more about how Kraft and the team at SolSpec are taking our industries to the cutting edge, go to https://solspec.io.

If you’re interested in attending, sponsoring, or exhibiting at the 2020 Summit, go to www.usareclamation.com for more information.

SolSpec Tech Talk: Bitner Goes Serverless

SolSpec Tech Talk: Bitner Goes Serverless

“Serverless” technologies allow for the easy provisioning and automatic scaling of resources that are limited in time and memory. Using serverless solutions from various providers can provide substantial cost savings for intermittent workloads and substantial scaling without any of the headaches of orchestration. This SolSpec Tech Talk explores how Amazon Web Services (AWS) Lambda Functions are used at SolSpec Solutions and demonstrates directly usable examples of how to leverage AWS Lambda to serve geospatial data. This talk builds on the presentation delivered by Senior Data Specialist David Bitner at the Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) North America conference in April 2018.

SolSpec Launches Aerial Analytics Solution for Pipeline Integrity Management

SolSpec Launches Aerial Analytics Solution for Pipeline Integrity Management

SolSpec ROW Integrity Management Solution helps oil and gas pipeline owners and operators predict, quantify and prioritize risk mitigation

Denver, Colorado — June 12, 2019 — SolSpec Inc., a provider of remote sensing and data analytics, today announced SolSpec™ ROW Integrity Management, an advanced aerial imagery and data analytics solution designed specifically for assessing, mitigating, and preventing geohazard risks on pipeline right-of-ways. Using SolSpec’s drone flight plans, data collection and advanced analytics, owners and operators can detect and predict hazards before they become problems, and gain actionable insights to prioritize mitigation efforts, improve safety and compliance, and achieve greater ROI at every stage of the pipeline asset lifecycle.

Landslides, erosion related hazards and subsidence in variable, steep, and rugged terrain can pose a threat to the integrity of pipeline facilities if those threats are not identified and mitigated. Landslides in the Appalachian Region region have caused major pipeline failures in recent history and resulted in numerous pipeline outages since 2018. In addition to the safety and environmental impacts, these failures have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of lost revenue and repair costs.

“SolSpec ROW Integrity Management solution gives decision makers the tools they need to allocate resources to the areas that would have the largest impact in reduction of geohazard-related safety, environmental, and business risk,” said Bryan Crowe, chief operating officer at SolSpec and former general manager at one of the largest pipeline operator companies in the nation.

SolSpec ROW Integrity Management is a geohazard risk analysis solution for analyzing known and potential threats to right-of-ways. A full service offering, SolSpec’s team of data scientists and FAA-licensed UAV pilots start by first collecting photogrammetry and LiDAR data within the right-of-way and create a baseline risk assessment with plug-and-play flight plans for ongoing monitoring of high-risk areas. Data is then processed via SolSpec’s secure cloud-based geoprocessing platform and proprietary analytical models based on analysis of over 1.7 million acres of landslides and ROW projects to create high-resolution 3D models for visualizing and measuring slip conditions, hydrology and BMP condition assessments and slip potential.

Prioritize Risk Mitigation to Improve Safety
Unlike general purpose analytics, SolSpec ROW Integrity Management solution delivers decision support analysis tailored to pipeline integrity management. Analysis is ranked against a risk index of population density, product type, high consequence and environmentally sensitive areas within the pipeline right of way to create a prioritization of existing and potential hazards. Armed with this insight, operators can pinpoint specific areas of interest and prioritize and allocate resources to speed time to repair, save costs and ultimately improve safety and reduce risk.

“SolSpec allows our pipeline integrity team to evaluate possible hazards so we can send out work crews to the most problematic areas first,” said Steve Lutes, director of Human Resources, EHS Safety, Training & Development at Huwa Enterprises. “Because of our work with SolSpec we are able to stay efficient in addressing our most pressing concern – safety.”

Streamline Compliance Requirements
In addition to interactive web maps and 3D models, users gain access to comprehensive, decision-ready reports with risks ordered by priority as well as supplemental coordinates in Excel, and risks indexed by location. These reports can be used to demonstrate compliance of corrective action continuous surveillance of pipelines under Federal pipeline safety regulations from PHMSA and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

“Drones and aerial analytics are defining a new era of inspection for the energy industry and are opening up new opportunities to deliver unprecedented efficiencies and value into pipeline construction and operations,” said Toby Kraft, co-founder and CEO of SolSpec. “SolSpec ROW Integrity Management delivers best-in-class analytics and proven models that empower our customers to prioritize risk management efforts, and efficiently allocate resources to ensure safe, reliable and profitable operations.”

SolSpec’s Toby Kraft and Robert Blank will share best practices and a technology demonstration at the Energy Drone & Robotics Summit and Expo, June 12-13. For information, visit https://stonefortgroup.com/energy-drone-coalition-2019/.

For more information about SolSpec ROW Integrity Management solution, visit https://solspec.io/row-integrity-management/.

About SolSpec
SolSpec was founded in 2016 to improve environmental and public safety and to increase efficiencies for the energy industry using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology. SolSpec’s Aerial Analytics platform represents best-in-class data processing and management for all UAV imagery. Our analytics were born from 120 cumulative years in Natural Resource Sciences and are formulated to specifically predict and prevent unexpected occurrences in large scale land use projects. With SolSpec, you can make decisions from your desk instead of the field and ultimately reduce risk, time and expenditure. Visit us online at https://solspec.io/

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Media Contact
Heather Racicot
360-632-5616
heatherr@z-pulley.com

Why Risk Indexing Is Vital in Prioritizing ROW Hazard Tasks

Why Risk Indexing Is Vital in Prioritizing ROW Hazard Tasks

Companies understand that any right-of-way project requires accurate risk indexing. They devote a massive amount of resources to index the risks before, during, and after each project. But why is risk indexing so vital?

Risk indexing is vital in prioritizing ROW hazard tasks. It helps planners to identify the likelihood of hazards and the potential impact these hazards can have on both the right-of-way and surrounding areas. This enables planners to allocate resources to where they’re needed most.

What is Risk Indexing

Before discussing its importance, we must explain what risk indexing is. Risk indexing is the identification and prioritization of potential hazards and risks to a ROW. This is important because risks with a higher likelihood of occurrence require more time, attention, and resources. This can’t happen if right-of-way managers are unaware of potential risks.

Added risks could include safety hazards, financial hazards, environmental hazards, and even legal hazards. They may also include risks the right-of-way could pose to the local area.

ROW managers, for example, need to be aware of environmentally sensitive areas to reduce the impact of a right-of-way. They are known as EGHCA class areas and are EPA regulated and monitored.

Once these risks are identified and added to the index, they’ll be categorized and scored so that each hazard can be appropriately prioritized. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all method for indexing risk, so some ROW management teams may categorize risks differently than others. But, they all have the same end goal of identifying potential risks and determining which risks need more resources and which don’t.

What Are ROW Hazards and Right-of-Way Hazard Tasks

Right-Of-Way hazards can include:

  • Safety Hazards
  • Financial Hazards
  • Environmental Hazards
  • Legal Hazards

Right-of-way Safety Hazards

Safety hazards can be as simple as new workers slipping and falling on the right-of-way during construction. In fact, Supreme Industries did an investigation and found that 70% of the slip, trip, and fall injuries occurred to employees who had been with the company for less than 6 months. Armed with this information, the company was able to design a training program that dropped these slip, trip, and fall injuries down to zero.


Using analytics, we can assess where there is potential for geohazard activity, like a landslide.

Another example of a safety hazard is that certain roadside rights-of-way might be more dangerous than others. ROW planners could mitigate this risk by installing additional physical barriers that would ensure the safety of the workers as well as the right-of-way itself.

Environmental Hazards

Different ROWs may be subjected to various environmental hazards as well. For example, a right-of-way near the mountains of Colorado might be vulnerable to avalanches while a ROW in Florida might have to worry about hurricanes or flooding.

While the environment may put the ROW at risk, the right-of-way could also potentially endanger the environment. Rights-of-way in or around areas with at-risk habitats will need to take steps to ensure that they have no adverse effects on these areas. Risk indexing helps to identify these locations along the ROW.

Legal Hazards

A long pipeline project could have a right-of-way that stretches for many miles. Midstream pipeline builders and operators will have to work with local governments, private property owners and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to establish agreements to operate in certain areas.

Sometimes, even after starting a project, legal issues may arise around these agreements. Different states and localities may have different laws on how these issues are resolved, making legal problems riskier in some areas of the country than others.

Slip/Slope Failure

For most right-of-way projects, the most substantial hazard could be slope failure. This is especially true with pipelines. The reason for this is that pipelines typically run over long distances and will almost always run near mountainous terrain where landslides are likely to develop.

A slope failure will result in a landslide that could endanger the safety of builders, pipeline operators, the surrounding areas, and the actual pipeline itself. Compromised slopes can lead to mud slipping down into sensitive areas of the pipeline. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, landslides have damaged millions of cubic meters of pipelines.

Financial Hazards of ROWs

Improper risk prioritization, or lack thereof, can lead to costly financial repercussions. Many ROW hazards that may have previously been restored quickly with the help of risk indexing might well end up costing exponentially more later on. Catching issues sooner, rather than later, is a priority for any company. It can often save a considerable amount of time and money in the forms of preventable labor, legal, environmental, and other costs.

For example, slope failures can lead to landslides and, as a result, cause massive damage to pipelines, ROWs, and surrounding areas and is almost always costly. If residences or environmentally sensitive areas are affected as well, the total end cost will rise, and legal troubles could ensue. Preventing these incidents with proper risk indexing enables appropriate resource and labor allocation and can be vastly more economical than paying for cleanup, restoration, and restitution after the fact.

Why Is Risk Indexing Vital

Keeping workers safe is vital to any pipeline project. Risk indexing can let project managers know where the most immediate danger lies within the ROW, so they can focus on improving safety in these areas.

Protecting the surrounding environment. Risk indexing can also help right-of-way planners determine which habitats are most affected by pipeline construction and maintenance. These areas can then have more resources allocated to them to help mitigate any potential damage to the local environment.

Profits can also be increased by proper risk indexing. That’s because risk indexing ensures money goes to the areas that need it most. It also minimizes escalation of costs caused by delayed maintenance.

It also helps to keep pipeline construction on schedule. This is because it helps predict potential problems that may otherwise have shut down pipeline activities.

How Is Risk Indexing Accomplished

The book, Risk Assessment in Setting National Priorities, states that “to be cost-effective, a prioritization system must be simple, rapid, and accurate.” For this reason, many companies use UAVs designed to map and monitor a ROWs geography. To demonstrate the risk indexing process, let’s look at how a UAV company could create a risk index for landslips along a pipeline project.

Landslips Along Pipelines

A UAV monitoring company might start the process by creating a baseline map to identify and eliminate any immediate concerns. The UAV could locate several slopes to be rebuilt along a ROW. Slope repair contractors could move in and restore the slope before even starting construction in a right-of-way. The slopes deemed to be the greatest danger are rated higher so work can start on them first.

UAVs will then be used to monitor the ROW continuously, looking out for actual slip movement and to create predictive assessments. Moving slopes and those that could pose a greater hazard to sensitive areas will be moved up the risk index. Upon completion, UAVs can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the remediation efforts.

Environmentally Sensitive Areas

UAV monitoring not only protects the pipeline but also protects environmentally sensitive areas. For example, UAV monitoring can be used to create a two-tiered analysis to monitor what happens to the ground and its potential environmental risk. This type of monitoring is especially critical in areas running through or around at-risk habitats.


Monitoring the surface hydrology through UAV imagery and analytics can protect environmentally sensitive areas

Monitoring an area using UAVs will help the pipeline to comply with EPA regulations and any other governing bodies concerned with the potential impacts of the ROW and pipeline. Doing so will also help to keep the company in good standing with the public. This is critical as a poor public image could impede the construction of new projects in the future. Conversely, a positive public image could make it easier and faster for the company to obtain the approvals it needs to create new projects.

In these cases, heat maps are usually created to allow right-of-way managers to see, at a glance, which areas should take top priority and receive the most resources. Commonly the color coding system uses dark red to denote areas that are most at risk.

Final Thoughts

Risk indexing is a complex process that involves many different areas of a ROW. With the help of specialized knowledge and expertise, as well as the latest in UAV technology, this process can be simple, cost-effective, and accurate.

Solspec is serious about risk indexing. We know that keeping pipeline projects on time, keeping workers safe, and reducing the environmental impact are all critical to your project’s success. We are proud to have some of the fastest data turnaround times in the industry. To find out how Solspec can help you with hazard identification, indexing, and more, check out our ROW integrity management page.