PLAN: Understanding the relationship between Public Awareness and Engagement and Public Awareness and Damage Prevention

Public Awareness and Engagement

Although the word engagement is used frequently, it has different meanings for different people. The reason for this is that engagement is a spectrum.

The International Association for Public Participation ( has outlined the spectrum to include inform, consult, involve, collaborate and empower. Inform is on the low end of the spectrum and public participation increases from there. Each level has public participation goals, a promise to the public, and sample techniques.

Public awareness, on the low end of the spectrum, provides information to inform the public and other stakeholder groups on safety when living and working near pipelines. All public awareness programs are similar because the information is rooted in safety. Some of the techniques used in public awareness include websites and mailers.

Public Awareness and Damage Prevention

Pipeline safety is of utmost importance to pipeline operators, who monitor and mitigate threats to the integrity of the pipeline. One of the threats is mechanical damage. Mechanical damage occurs when something strikes the pipeline causing damage and, most notably, from excavation activities.

Knowing excavation damage is a risk to the pipeline, operators employ several strategies, including public awareness, to mitigate the threat. Public awareness programs provide important safety messages like ‘call before you dig.’ In addition, operators set goals for their programs, inform stakeholders, measure the effectiveness and continually improve. Specific to preventing damage, measures may include trending the number of near misses or the number of times 811 was called.