Abbreviations and Acronyms

No industry or business would be complete in the modern world without their acronyms and that includes the locating, utility, and civil engineering fields.  Below is a list of what are probably the most common acronyms to come across in utility locating.  Some are related to only one specific utility and may have already been included in their respective chapters, while others refer to the utility industry in general.  Others are abbreviations which are actually surveying terms, but sometimes used for utility measurement points.  A few of them are more common in one region of the country than another.

3D-UI – 3D Underground Imaging
AASHTO – American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
A-B – A-B cables (Transcontinental telephone cables installed in 1942)
ABS – Acrylonitrite – Butadiene – Styrene
AC – Asbestos Cement (Non-conductive pipe)
AC – Alternating Current
ACP – Asbestos Cement Pipe
ADR – Alternative Dispute Resolution (Any process or procedure other than litigation that is agreed to by the disputing parties as the means for resolving adispute, and is binding or non-binding pursuant to the agreement by the disputingparties. ADR includes, but is not limited to, advisory boards, arbitration, mini-trials, mediation, partnering, and standing neutrals.)
AGA – American Gas Association
ANSI – American National Standards Institute
AOPL – Association of Oil Pipelines
AP – Access Pedestal (Telephone)
API – American Petroleum Institute
APWA – American Public Works Association
ASCE – American Society of Civil Engineers
ASME – American Society of Mechanical Engineers
ATMS – Advanced Traffic Management System (State with traffic system)
AWG – American Wire Gauge
AWWA – American Water Works Association
BC – Buried Cable
BLM – Bureau of Land Management
BJ – Buried Joint (2 or more utilities in the same trench – same as JT)
BOC – Back of Curb
BOW – Back of Walk (back of the side walk)
C – Conduit
CADD – Computer Assisted Design & Drafting (Almost all computer utility prints are cadd files. SUE cadd files are very extensive versions)
CAP  – Corrugated Aluminum
CATV – Cable Television (Formerly known as Community Access TV)
CCP – Concrete Cylinder Pipe
CBM – Cabling Business Magazine
CCTV – Closed Circuit Television (Contained within a building, group of buildings, or any constricted area)
CDR – Corridor
CDQ – Council on Environmental Quality
CFR – Code of Federal Regulations
CGA – Common Ground Alliance
CH – Chemical
CI – Cast Iron 
CIP – Cast iron pipe
CIC – Cable in Conduit
CIS – Close Internal Surveys
CL – Centerline (of the road) 
CLMC – Concrete Lined Metal Pipe: same as CCP
CMC – Cement Mortar Coated
CML – Cement Mortar Lined
CMP – Corrugated Metal Pipe
CO2 – Carbon Dioxide
CO – Central Office (Communications, especially telephone)
COAX – Coaxial Cable
COND – Conduit
COPP – Copper – typically used as reference to a copper pipe
CP – Control Point: A survey marker, placed by a professional surveyor. This may be only a large nail marked with a painted triangle around it, or a specifically produced marker with the engineering company name embossed on to it.  
CP – Cathodic Protection
CPP – Corrugated Plastic Pipe
CRW – “CRW” is an obscure acronym for a Rural Service Wire (see RSW)
CSG – Casing: Protective covering for a pipe or cable, usually made of steel.  May also be written as STLCS (Steel Casing).
CSR – Call Service Representative
CSTL – Corrugated Steel Pipe
CU – Copper
CWD – Creosote Wood Duct
D – Distribution Facility
DB – Direct Buried: A cable which is not in a conduit or duct run.
DC – Direct Current
DE – Dead End, of a utility line
DI – Drain Inlet or Drop Inlet (storm sewer)
DI – Ductile Iron pipe.  Also written as DIP
DIRT – Damage Information Reporting Tool
DIY – Do-it-yourself.
DOT – Department of Transportation (Any of the 50 State DOT’s)
DP CAP – Damage Prevention and Claims Avoidance Program
DQI – Data Quality Index
DSL – Digital Subscriber Line: Phone cables transmitting digital communications.  Also includes the cabinets that convert the signals from analog to digital, or extend their reach – DSLAM
DWDM – Dense Wave Division Multiplexing
E – Electric
EA – Environmental Assesment
EFRD – An emergency flow restricting device
EIS – Enviromental Impact Statement
ESA – Enviromentally Sensitive Area
EM – Electro-Magnetic
EMF – Electro-Magnetic Field: The radiating field created by EM currents.  EM pipe and cable locate machines can only detect EMF from an alternating current on a conductor. 
emf – Electro-motive force: not used in utility locating, but often mistaken for EMF.
EMI – Electromagnetic Imaging
EMS – Electronic Marker System: Trademark of the 3M Corporation.  A permanent buried marker of various shapes, sizes, and colors, containing a loop of wire with a small capacitor.  Can be detected with a RYCOM EMS locate machine, and can be used for any type of utility line or buried feature.
ETS – ElectronicTotal Stations
FERC – Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
FCC – Federal Communications Commission
FCCFDM – Frequency Division Multiplexing: The technical term for the multiplexing process used in the T-1, T-2, and T-3 phone systems.
FH – Fire Hydrant
FHWA – Federal Highway Administration
FO – Fiber Optics: Sometimes written as FOC for Fiber Optic Cable.
FOC – Front Of Curb: The front side (towards the street) of the curb.
FOG – Fiber Optic Ground (see OPGW)
FONSI – Finding of No Significant Impact
FOW – Front Of Walk: The front side (towards the street) of the sidewalk.
FTTC – Fiber To The Curb: The most common system – fiber transfers to phone or coaxial at a cabinet (fiber hut/node/VRAD) near the curb or public right-of-way.
FTTH – Fiber To The Home: Common in some Asian countries, though still rare in the U.S. except in some new neighborhoods.
FTTP – Fiber To The Premises: Usually implies a fiber cable into a business.
FTTx – Any communication system which utilizes fiber cables for at least part of its architecture. This would include any cable TV company that uses fiber and coaxial,and any telco that uses fiber and telephone cables.
G – Gas
GIS – Global Information System aka Geospatial Information System: Mapping information from various sources overlapped onto cad file, or any other mapping system. GIS has a very broad meaning, and is often used to refer to two completely different programs.
GITA – Geospatial Information and Technology Association
GPR – Ground Penetrating Radar: Technology using microwaves penetrating the soil, which can detect even non-conductive utilities under the proper soil conditions.
GPS – Global Positioning Service
GRD – Ground: May imply an electrical ground, or the earth ground.
GSSI – Geophysical Survey Systems, Inc.
GTI – Gas Technology Institute
GWeC – Global Wind Energy Council
HAZOP – Hazard and Operability Analysis
HCA – High Consequence Area
HD – High Density: Usually refers to certain HD plastic pipes.
HDD – Horizontal Directional Drilling – aka Boring or Trenchless Technology. A rapidly growing technology which uses horizontal drilling to bore utility lines under streets and other areas.
HDPE – High Density Polyethylene: Plastic commonly used in water pipes,sanitary pipes, and occasionally for phone and electrical conduits.
HFC – Hybrid Fiber Coax: a cable TV system architecture that originates at the head end as fiber optic cable, then alters to coaxial cable at a node.
HH – Handhole: Smaller version of a manhole – does not require any confined space entry safety measures.
HM – Hazardous Material
HP – High Pressure: Typically a gas transmission line, but the term has been used for distribution mains with a higher pressure than nearby gas mains. Occasionally used in reference to transmission water pipes as well. There is no true standard for what exactly denotes “high pressure”.
HP – High-Profile
HVL – Highly Volatile Liquid
Hz – Hertz: Cycles per second in electro-magnetic waves. Locating frequencies are measured in hertz and kilohertz
ICC – Illinois Commerce Commission
ICS/UC – Incident Command System/Unified Command.
ID – Inside Diameter: Pipe measurement. Pipes are referred to by their inside diameter, not their more noticeable outside diameter.
ILI – Inline Inspection (Smart Pigging)
ILI Tool – Inline Inspection Tool
INGAA – Interstate Natural Gas Association of America
INT – Intersect: A 3 way utility connection, most commonly used in reference to 3-way pipe connections.
INT – Interconnect: A communication line between any two traffic cabinets at different intersections. Interconnects are usually a 6 pair or 12 pair phone service.
ISO – International Organization for Standardization
ISP – InSide Plant: Any utility line inside of a building.
ITS – Intelligent Traffic Systems: A very broad term used in reference to any of the newer traffic systems, including many that are still under development.
IUPPS – Indiana Underground Plant Protection Service
IURC – Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission
J-BOX – Junction Box: Electric feature that serves as a splice cabinet for primary power cables. J-Boxes are almost always rectangular in shape.
JC – Joint Trench (Same as BJ)
JT – Joint Trench – (Same as BJ)
kHz – Kilohertz: One thousand hertz.
L – L-System – Long Distance (Coaxial cable)
LC – Load Coil: Telephone cable signal booster and stabilizer. May be above ground or below ground. Below ground load coils will have a single cable coming up in to a pedestal, and usually marked with a colored electrical tape or other marking. Load coils are extremely common in all telephone systems.
L-CXR – L-Carrier aka L-System: A national coaxial cable system used from 1941 to 1972. Originally owned by AT&T, it carried long distance phone calls and other data. The system included the national defense cables centered on Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, installed in 1954, but now obsolete.
LDC – Local Distribution Company
LEPCs – Local Emergency Planning Committees
LG – Light Guided: Early term for Fiber Optics – no longer in common use, except as an acronym on utility prints, and often labeled on fiber cables themselves.
LMS – Line Management System: System used by many long distance fiber companies to transmit a discrete frequency, either on tracer wires or armored cable. Locate technicians for these operators use only a receiver, because the signal current is applied from the Central Office.
LNG – Liquified Natural Gas
LPG – Liquified Petroleum Gas
LT – Loose Tube: A type of fiber optic cable with a loose outer jacket to prevent damage to the fiber when being pulled through conduits. The vast majority of OSP optic cable is loose tube.
ma – Milliamperes: A measurement of amperage. In utility locating it is the amount of amperage detected by the receiver. Most of the newer machines have a display of milliamps on the receiver.
MFL – Magnetic Flux Leakage
MH – Manhole: Any underground confined space entry vault, typically at least 6 feet deep or more, and with a small entrance opening. All manholes require confined space entry procedures.
MATH – Matheson Pipe: an antiquated type of steel pipe.
MAOP – Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure
MOP – Maximum Operating Pressure
MON – Monument Marker: Any type of permanent survey marker, usually consisting of a small metal top, and a long metal staff pounded into the ground. NAD 27 and NAD 83 markers are monument markers. Monument markers are often found directly in the middle of street intersections, and covered with a grated lid about 6 inches in diameter.
MP – Mechanical Protection: Armored telephone cable, shown on phone prints following the 4-letter code, such as BKTA-MP.
MSDS – Material Safety Data Sheets: Federally required detailed information on any possible hazardous material. For locate technicians this is usually only applicable to the use of inverted paint, and its proper use.
MTD – Multiple Tile Duct: telephone and or fiber duct run.
MTSO – Mobile Telephone Switching Office: Used in cellular phone systems as a central office. All cell sites of the same cell phone service in any particular region, will have either phone or fiber cables feeding to the MTSO.
MUTCD – Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices: The book which illustrates the details of the national standard for setting up traffic control. The MUTCD is often referred to by both the book and the course taught on traffic control.
MUX – Multiplexer cabinet: Any cabinet for increasing the capability of signal on cable could be called a multiplexer, however, the abbreviation “mux” is most commonly used for the cabinets that alter digital fiber optic to analog telephone inside of a business, school, government building, etc.
NACE – National Association of Corrosion Engineers
NAD – North American Datum: Major North American surveys of 1927 and 1983, and the permanent markers installed during the survey. These markers can be found throughout the U.S. and Canada, and are sometimes used as reference points for the location of buried pipes, or other utilities.
NAPSR – National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives
NARUC – National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners
NASFM – National Association of State Fire Marshals.
NDT – Non destructive testing
NEB – National Energy Board
NESC – National Electric Safety Code.
NGL – National Gas Liquid
NID – Network Interface Device: same as SNI.
NIJ – Network Interface Junction: same as SNI.
NIOSH – National Safety for Occupational Safety and Health
NPGA – National Propane Gas Association
NPMS – National Pipeline Mapping System
NPRM – Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
NRC – National Response Center
NTDPC – National Telecommunications Damage Prevention Council
NTSB – National Transportation and Safety Board
NUCA – National Utility Contractors Association
NULCA – National Utility Locating Contractors Association.
OD – Outside Diameter: Pipes are usually referred to by their inside diameter. A “12 inch” iron pipe is 12 inches on the inside diameter, but actually has an outside diameter of 13.20 inches.
OFCP – Optical Fiber Conductive Plenum: an armored fiber cable, but usually only placed in ISP areas.
OFCR – Optical Fiber Conductive Riser: an armored fiber cable, but usually only placed in ISP areas.
OHD – Overhead: Overhead cables. Overhead cables are listed on utility prints just as buried cables are, but they may use different codes. Some companies may list them as OHD, most telcos use the code 52C, while power and cable TV companies often use dashed lines for one, and solid lines for the other.
OMNI – OMNI Marker: Similar to EMS buried utility markers, but produced by a different manufacturer.
OPGW – Optical Ground Wire: A newer cable system that consists of a fiber optic cable inside of a power transmission ground wire – so it is both a fiber cable and ground wire in one – though this is only true where the cable is aerial. Below ground they are separate lines. Also known as OPG, and FOG for Fiber Optic Ground.
OPS – Office of Pipeline Safety
OSHA – Occupational Safety & Health Administration
OSP – OutSide Plant: Any utility line, aerial or buried, that is outside of a building. In utility locating, we deal strictly with OSP utilities. Most utility lines alter material when they switch from OSP to ISP at a junction box or meter attached to the building.
OSP – Outside Plant Solutions
PAF – Progressive Agriculture Foundation.
PAPA – Pipeline Association for Public Awareness.
PB – Polybutylene: Plastic pipe material.
PE – Polyethylene: Very common material for plastic pipe or cable insulation jacket.
PED – Pedestal: Utility box used for phone, power, CATV, etc. May be made of steel, plastic, fiberglass, etc., and in various sizes.
PEX – Cross-Linked Polyethylene: Plastic piping material used in situations of extremely hot or cold temperatures. PEX pipes are used underneath the driveways of some ski resorts in Utah, Idaho, Colorado and other states, and filled with heated anti-freeze.
PG&J – Pipeline and Gas Journal
PHMSA – Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration
PIC – Polyethylene Insulated Cable – aka – Plastic Insulated Cable: Almost all telephone cables manufactured for OSP since 1958 are PIC cables, including those used in the T-1 and DSL systems, as well as those that are armored.
PIPES – Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Enforcement, and Safety
PL – Property Line: A point at which any private property meets another private property line, or a public right of way.
PLA – Plastic (Conduit or Pipe)
POLY – Polyethylene: A type of plastic. Usually refers to plastic pipe, but polyethylene is also used as an outer jacket on most modern utility cables. Same as PE.
PON – Passive Optical Network: any communication system that uses fiber optic cable only, without any electric power supply being introduced in to the system between the CO or Head End, and the destination point (residence or office building). Both FTTB and FTTH architectures are also PON networks.
POTS – Plain Old Telephone Service: Any phone service pair that is not utilizing either T-1 or DSL, and therefore not multiplexed, is a POTS line.
PP – Polypropylene: Plastic pipe material.
PP – Polypropylene – (Plastic pipe)
PP – Power Pole: Pole that has electrical power, but may also have phone, fiber or coaxial cables as well.
PRV – Pressure Release Valve: Used in many pressurized water systems to allow for the release of excess water pressure.
PSI – Pounds per Square Inch (Pressure)
PUD – Pounds per Square Inch (Pressure)Public Utilities Department: A common term for any municipally owned utility and the city, state, or county department that operates it.
PVC – Polyvinylchloride: Plastic pipe material.
QL – Quality Level: A, B, C, or D: Used in Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE), to denote how the utility line was located.
QL-A – SUE designation: A utility feature or line that can be visually seen from a vertical position, such as the end of a pipe in a manhole, or a cable exposed in a vacuum test hole.
QL-B – SUE designation: A utility feature, pipe or cable that was located/designated electronically, such as with an EM pipe and cable locator, EMS locator, magnetometer, Ground Penetrating Radar, etc.
QL-C – SUE designation: A pipe or cable whose end points can be located/designated accurately, but the location of the pipe or cable in between is unknown, such as a pipe between two manholes.
QL-D -SUE designation: A utility whose horizontal position is only estimated, based strictly on utility prints, hearsay, etc., but without confirmation.
R – Radius
RBOC – Regional Bell Operating Companies: The official term used in the 1980’s for the 7 regional phone companies that were created when the Bell System was split into smaller groups. Still used as a reference to the larger telcos that were once a part of the Bell System.
RCB – Reinforced Concrete Box
RCCP – Reinforced Concrete Cylinder Pipe, same as CCP
RCP – Reinforced Concrete Pipe: Concrete pipe reinforced with iron rebar.
RED – Reducer Coupling: Pipe connection between two different sized pipes, but usually of the same material.
REG – Regulator: A feature used in pipes to allow the flow of fluid/gas through the pipes while still separating 2 different pressure settings. A single gas company may use a wide variety of regulators, some very small and attached to the gas meter, while the regulators for transmission pipes are in large fenced properties known as regulator stations
RF – Reinforced Fiberglass
ROW – Right of Way – aka Public Right of Way: Any area that is a publicly owned thorough fair, including street, sidewalk, and parkstrip areas. This may extend for several feet back from the actual street. It is usually the back of the sidewalk in very urban areas, and sometimes as much as 50 feet or more from the side of an Interstate.
RPTR – Repeater: Telephone cable signal clarification feature. Repeaters are very common in all telephone systems.
RR – Railroad Signal
RSW – Rural Service Wire: The most common acronym used for any of the rigid jacket, usually single-pair, telephone service wires that have been used since the 1930s. See also: BSW, ASW, CSW. Also commonly used as a tracer wire for non-conductive utilities, especially fiber optic cables..
RTU – Remote Transmitter Unit: The actual on-site control box for a SCADA system, commonly used in all types of utility systems to transmit information from the utility site to a control center.
RTUE – Responding to Utility Emergencies.
RUS – Rural Utility Services: originally named the Rural Electrification Association (REA), the group was organized by the U.S. government in about 1934 to help provide electricity to rural America.
S – Sewer
SAI – Serving Area Interface: Common name for a Cross-Connect (X-Box)
SCADA – Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition: A system for remotely monitoring and controlling/switching various utility features such as water tanks, sanitary sewer lift stations, gas regulator stations, petroleum refineries, even railroad track switches. RTUs are the on-site control box.
SCC – Stress Corrosion Cracking
SCCP – Street Cylinder Concrete Pipe
SD – Storm Drain
SEUFPC – Southeast Underground Facility Protection Council
SL – Street Lighting
SLIC – Subscriber Line Interface Concentrator (SLIC cabinet): A type of telephone DSL cabinet.
SNI – Single Network Interface – aka Protector: The small enclosure on the side of a house or building where the telephone service wire enters the building. This is the crossover point between OSP phone services and ISP phone services. These are also known as a NIJ (Network Interface Junction), or a NID (Network Interface Device).
SP – Slurry System
SR – State Road: Any road or highway under the State’s jurisdiction, instead of the city in which it is located. Example: SR 35.
SS – Storm Sewer
SSOCOF – Sunshine State One-Call of Florida
STL – Steel
STLCS – Steel Casing, same as CSG.
STLCS – Steel
STLCS – Steel Casing, same as CSG.
STM – Steam
STR – Structure (vaults, junction boxes, inlets, lift station)
SUE – Subsurface Utility Engineering: Utility mapping project that is required to follow guidelines set by the American Society of Civil Engineers, including utilizing the 4 Quality Levels established by the ASCE.
SUM – Subsurface Utility Mapping: Unofficial term for any utility mapping project that is not under S.U.E guidelines, and therefore probably not federally funded.
SWR – Sewer, usually meaning sanitary sewer.
T Tap: A 3-way utility connection, especially a pipe distribution connection to a service or lateral.
T-1 – T-1 System, short for “Transmission One”: Telephone cable multiplexing through the use of various frequencies on a single phone pair service. The T-1 systems have been installed since 1963, later versions are T-2 and T-3 systems. Many T-systems are still in use today, and some were still being placed in recent years.
TBC – Top Back of Curb: A point at the top of the concrete, at the back side – towards the property – of the curb. TBC is a common survey point, and also used on occasion for the measurement location of pipes.
TCP – Traffic Control Plan.
TEL – Telephone
TELCO – Telephone Company: Communication company that utilizes phone cables, though they may also have fiber cables as well.
TF – Transition Fitting aka Transition Coupling: A pipe connector that is most commonly used between 2 different types of pipe material, such as plastic and steel, or iron and AC. The use is not always because of the difference in material, but because an 8 inch iron pipe is not exactly the same outside diameter as an 8 inch plastic pipe.
TI – Telecom Infrastructure.
TOC – Traffic Operations Center: Center point building of State wide ATMS traffic system. All cables within a Sate ATMS system will feed in to a single TOC building.
TR – Transite Pipe
TS – Traffic Signal
TV – Television
TWRT – Thin Walled Rocket Tubing: A metal alloy military surplus pipe material used by some gas operators following World War II. An antiquated, but safe material.
UNK – Unknown
UG – Underground: Commonly used on some utility prints to denote a buried conduit that was empty at the time of its placement, but may now have a cable inside.
UJ – Utility Junction: An electric splice enclosure for primary cables, more commonly known as a junction box, or J-box.
UM – Unsoldered Mechanical Protection: Armored telephone cables, shown on phone prints following the 4-letter code, such as BKTA-UM.
UNI – Uni-Marker: Similar to EMS and OMNI buried utility markers.
UNK – Unknown
UPROW – Utilites and Public Right of Way
URD – Underground Residential Distribution: Any buried distribution line in residential areas. Most commonly used by some power companies to denote buried power lines.
USAM – Universal Service Access Multiplexer: A type of telephone DSL cabinet.
USDOT – United States Department of Transportation
UTA – Utility Training Academy.
VCP – Vitrified Clay Pipe: Typically used in sewer systems. An ancient type of pipe material,but they are still produced and used throughout the U.S.
VCT – Vitrified Clay Tile (Same as VCP.)
VEG – Vegetation Ditch: An open earth irrigation ditch.
VMS – Variable Message Sign: Electronic Traffic Board, may be a portable unit, or a large permanent sign on an Interstate. Also known as Reader Boards.
VRAD – Video Ready Access Device: an electrically powered cabinet for altering optical signals (fiber optic) to electro magnetic signals (telephone cable). Also known as a fiber hut.
VRS – Virtual Reference Station: New survey system that provides GPS positioning with survey grade accuracy, but utilizes a series of established base stations with the signal being received on a cellular phone. This allows for a quicker and easier survey, because the surveyor does not need to establish their own base station.
VT – Vitrified Tile (Same as VCP.)
W – W can represent welded steel pipe, old wood pipe, or just an indicator of water line.
WD – Wood Pipe
WDM – Wavelength Division Multiplexing: The technical term for the multiplexing process used with fiber optic cables.
WI – Wrought Iron: Pure iron, not normally used in utilities.
WV – Water Valve
X-Box – Cross Box or Cross Connect: The crossover point between “feeder cables” and “distribution cables” in telephone systems. X-Boxes are usually fed by a single large phone cable from a manhole, and then feed outward with several cables. Also known as SAI (Serving Area Interface).
XT – An antiquated metal alloy pipe material, formerly used in some natural gas systems, and possibly water systems. This is a very rare pipe to come across. The actual name is rather obscure, but some people often refer to it as X-Trubing. XT pipe is very conductive, and easy to locate.
1248 – The term “twelve-forty-eight” is often heard in reference to utility cabinets. Manufacturers label their cabinets by the overall size, such as “12 inches deep by 48 inches high” and then include the number in the product code, such as “UPC1248”. There are both phone and power cabinets that have product codes that include the number “1248”, as well as phone pedestals labeled as “UP1652” because they are 52 inches tall. The last number of a utility cabinet product code is almost always the height of the cabinet whether it is for phone, power, coaxial, or fiber.