Sunshine 811 Responds to Hurricane Irma with Successful Public Awareness Campaign

Hurricane Irma’s unprecedented power outages got a lot of press. People knew what to do when they encountered an above-ground electric line, but no one warned them of underground lines.

So Sunshine 811 developed an earned media campaign that came together in less than a week after Hurricane Irma to take advantage of Irma’s major news draw. It ran Sept. 13 – Nov. 30 and educated Floridians on the need to call 811 before any digging – even storm recovery.

The move was necessary after people started piling up their damaged fencing by the road. Recent damage statistics show fence installs are one of the larger causes of underground facility damages in Florida and the hardware stores were busy selling fencing.

We approached media outlets to run free public service announcements and submitted letters to the editor.

We also partnered with our member Spectrum Reach, a digital media network, to run storm-themed pre-roll video and digital display ads to customers near 113 Home Depot stores in Gainesville, Naples, Ft Myers, Sarasota, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Tampa, St. Petersburg, West Palm Beach and Orlando.

Finally, we developed a campaign landing page and toolkit of all outreach materials related to Irma clean-up and asked our members to use them to educate their customers. Running Sept. 13 – Nov. 30, this integrated campaign that came together in less than a week after Hurricane Irma have been outstanding:

  • Nearly 90 radio and television stations (English and Spanish) in all Florida counties aired public service announcements provided by Sunshine 811 at no cost.
  • Banners and pre-roll videos generated 856,437 highly qualified impressions (views).
  • Sunshine 811’s “After the Storm” webpage, which included the toolkit of communications materials for member facility operators, was visited by 1,346 people.
  • Our website saw an increase in overall web traffic of 18 percent and a 22 percent increase in new visitors over 2016. 
  • Total first time callers (15,157) for the campaign’s duration saw a 14 percent increase over the same month in 2016; and October was a record-breaking month with 6,014, up 35 percent.

Changes coming for FL DIRT field form


The Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) is getting a makeover!

After more than 10 years of DIRT data collection and annual reports, the Data Reporting & Evaluation Committee is making some significant revisions to the DIRT form to ensure it continues to provide value to damage prevention efforts.

The changes were made to streamline the data-gathering process, encourage more participation and enhance analysis. The most significant change was removing the selection Data Not Collected (DNC).

Note: July 1, 2017, reporting damages became mandatory for Sunshine 811 members. The system we chose to gather the damage data is DIRT. Sunshine 811 has a state-specific version of DIRT called Florida DIRT which you may also see referred to as Florida Virtual Private DIRT. They are the same. If your company already reports damages to DIRT, please make sure that they grant Sunshine State One-Call of Florida, Inc. access to their Florida data. View our Florida DIRT information page here.

What you need to know

Use the current form for all 2017 damages. The deadline for submitting damages that occurred in 2017 is 3/31/2018 and the current form is available until then.

Begin using the 2018 DIRT Field Form 1/1/2018.

If you enter your events one at a time using the online web form or in bulk using a bulk loader, you will have the ability to toggle between the "Original v1. 2006" and the "Next version.2018.0" as in graphic below. April 1 the toggle will be removed and only the 2018 form will be available. 


Help Through the Transition

To prepare for the upcoming transition, the PDFs below explain the changes to the form and how they will affect your web form entry and bulk uploading. If you have any issues, our damage prevention liaisons are available to assist you as they are available. You may also contact the Common Ground Alliance's DIRT staff directly through this web form. If you have not set up your Florida DIRT account yet, visit the Florida DIRT page to learn more.

New 2018 DIRT Form

2018 DIRT Field Form

2006 Field Form vs the 2018 Field Form

Sandbox Version of the New Form is Available

2018 Field Form Changes Explained

DIRT is getting a makeover

Types of events

New exemption questions

'Data Not Collected' removed

Revised Excavation Practices Root Causes

Revised Locating Practices Root Causes

Revised Notification Practices Root Causes

More Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Presentation from the Fresh DIRT Webinar

DIRT Migration Guide 2018 (for use by those already reporting using DIRT Web Form, Automated Data Loader, and XML/SOAP interface)

Plan ahead for Sunshine 811 2018 holiday closings


Sunshine 811 will be closed the following holidays in 2018. For your convenience, Internet Ticket Entry and Single Address Ticket will be available for use during those times. 

As a reminder, these holidays are not included in the legal waiting period after you've requested your ticket.

  • January 1 - New Year's Day
  • January 15 - Martin Luther King Jr Day
  • May 28 - Memorial Day
  • July 4 - Independence Day
  • September 3 - Labor Day
  • November 22 & 23 - Thanksgiving
  • December 24 & 25 - Christmas

October Newsletter Now Available



October 2017


Prepare for 2017 hurricane season 

Unprecedented power outages dominated the headlines after Hurricane Irma. But when it came to recovery and clean up efforts causing further damage to underground facilities, you heard crickets. So Sunshine 811 set about developing an after-the-storm public awareness campaign and a tool kit for you to use now and with future storms. View it here.


Only 6 interactive pipeline classes remain! REGISTER TODAY

This year's free pipeline program brings together excavators, utilities and emergency officials for an interactive COoordinated Response Exercise (CoRE-EX) taught by Paradigm Liaison Services. Read more.

Collier County runs 811 radio campaign  

Thank you to Stephen Sarabia, field supervisor with Collier County Public Utilities, for spearheading a public awareness campaign that ran 686 Sunshine 811 radio spots in Collier and Lee Counties. The campaign ran July 17 through Sept. 24 on WJPT-FM, WRSK-FM, WWCN-FM, WXKB-FM. The spots were tagged with “brought to you by Collier County Public Utilities.” Listen to the radio spots here.

FUCC honors Sunshine 811 liaison

Sunshine 811 Damage Prevention Liaison Brian Dean received the 2017 John J. Farkas Liaison Person of the Year Award at the Florida Utilities Coordinating Committee meeting in August. For 30 years, the FUCC has honored those who espouse Farkas's traits of being a bridge builder and firm supporter of the 4Cs (coordination, communication, cooperation and commitment). Hailing from Woodstock, Dean served in the Army Air Defense Division, has worked in the water/wastewater industry for 20-plus years and is a kitchen magician. Congratulations Brian!


Sunshine 811 recommends that anyone who digs has his or her own ticket. Some master/general contractors list all subcontractors on their tickets. If you list subcontractors on your ticket, you are responsible for communicating the positive response information to them. Failing to do so puts their safety, the facility's integrity and your project at risk.

Chris Lyon of Lewis, Longman & Walker, LLC was selected by the Sunshine 811 Board of Directors as its new lobbyist. The firm takes a team approach to lobbying with four lobbyists on staff. LLW has been in Tallahassee and educated legislators on issues plus has experience in the construction industry. 

The board approved a revision to the 5-address ticket definition that changed "rather than" to "including." The definition now reads, "One ticket may cover up to five individual addresses for work that is being done on properties including the easement or right of way. The distance from address one to five cannot be more than one mile."

See how Florida is doing when it comes to underground facility damages. See the summary of nationwide statistics in the PDF. Then, move over to the interactive report to look at Florida-specific data and change the data factors.    PDF  |  Interactive
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EXCAVATORS: Local, federal law require call to 911 when pipeline damaged

Damaging pipelines carries its own set of risks.State and federal require a call to 911 when there is a pipeline release. PHMSA may also place maximum civil penalties of $209,002 per violation per day with a maximum of $2,090,022 for any related series of violations on any Florida excavators who damage their regulated pipelines.