Digital map will show all of UK’s underground assets
A digital map of all UK underground pipes and cables is set to be created in an effort to end utility strikes and save lives.
26th April 2019 by Networks
The government’s Geospatial Commission has announced its ambition to bring together the existing data on underground pipes and cables to create an Underground Assets Register. This has begun with pilot projects in London and the North East, to test the feasibility of the project.
Minister for Implementation, Oliver Dowden, visited Sunderland to see the work which is already underway to map the area’s underground network. He said: “When workers strike pipes and cables, it risks lives, costs money and causes havoc for residents and road-users.
“Our investment in this cutting-edge underground map is just one way that the government is working smarter, so that we really make a difference to people’s everyday lives.”
There is currently no comprehensive underground map of the UK’s service network.
Different organisations have their own maps showing where such things as gas pipes and electricity cables are, but the lack of a combined map creates an increased risk of potentially lethal accidents.
Work to tackle the problem has so far seen working prototypes created in Sunderland and London. This allows workers to see underground pipes and cables on mobile phones or laptop computers before they start a dig.
In the North East, the project has been led by Ordnance Survey, who have worked with Northumbrian Water, Northern Gas Networks, Northern Powergrid, and Openreach. In London, work going forward will be led by the Greater London Authority, who are working closely with infrastructure providers and local authorities.
David Henderson, the managing director of Ordnance Survey Great Britain, said: “The creation of an underground map of utility assets has long been an ambition of Ordnance Survey. And over the last year we have been working closely with Northumbrian Water and a consortia of utility companies and local authorities in the North East of England, to explore how accurate geospatial data can improve underground infrastructure maintenance and inform new-build development projects.
“The investment being made by the Geospatial Commission will ultimately enable the utility industry to more efficiently access, use and share data describing otherwise hidden infrastructure, thereby reducing operational costs, minimising disruption and accelerating completion of site works.”
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