811 FAQs

Q: What is 811?

A: 811 is the national phone number designated by the Federal Communications Commission that connects professionals and homeowners who plan to dig with their local one call center. Common Ground Alliance members promote the 811 phone number as the first step in the damage prevention process.

Q: How does 811 work?

A: When someone calls 811 in the United States, he or she is connected to the local one call center, where a representative collects information about the caller’s planned dig site. The one call center then communicates the information to the appropriate utility companies, which send professional utility locating technicians to identify and mark the approximate location of lines within a few days of the phone call.  Once lines have been marked, the caller may dig safely around the marks.

Q: What happens if people don’t call 811 before digging?

A: According to the most recent CGA Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) Report, an underground utility line is damaged every six minutes because someone decided to dig but didn’t call 811.

Q: How do CGA members promote 811?

A: CGA encourages members to promote 811 in ways that make sense for each member organization, through events, paid advertising, publicity earned via news coverage, social media marketing or other tactics. CGA produces an annual Communications Plan that provides members with tools to promote 811 during National Safe Digging Month, 8/11 Day (Aug. 11) and other times of the year.

Q: Does CGA provide grants to members to promote 811?

A: CGA does not provide grants. CGA’s primary promotional role for the 811 campaign is the production of the annual Communications Plan materials and development of national campaigns designed for member participation and support. Many CGA members promote the 811 campaign using grant money secured through programs managed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Q: Does CGA buy advertising to promote 811?

A: As a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, CGA does not purchase paid advertising to ensure it is able to secure public service announcement space when needed. CGA encourages members and all other damage prevention stakeholders to use materials in the Communications Plan to execute paid advertising campaigns that promote 811.

Q: How does CGA determine its national 811 campaigns?

A: CGA conducts primary and secondary research to determine appropriate target audiences for its national 811 campaigns. Additionally, CGA considers input from members of the Educational Programs and Marketing Committee. To learn more about this committee, please click here.

Q: How do I find information about my local one call center?

A: CGA maintains a list of all one call centers and damage prevention information by state.  You can access this information by clicking here.

Q: How can I get involved with the Education Programs and Marketing Committee?

A: Click here to learn more about CGA’s Educational Programs and Marketing Committee.

811 Web Site