Data sharing project will highlight underground cables

A project that is being led by UK Power Networks will produce an accurate picture of cables hidden under UK streets, and help reduce the risk of diggers damaging underground electricity cables.

Data sharing project will highlight underground cables

The network operator is working on the project in conjunction with Utility Survey Exchange (originally set up with the support of Ordnance Survey’s Geovation programme) to create a digital platform for sharing high-quality survey data from leading practitioners and experts.

Participants in the trial will report extensive data about buried assets to an independent data analytics platform, which will relay the information directly to UK Power Networks. The power firm supplies maps to organisations like housing developers, to help reduce the risk of workers accidentally digging through buried electrical cables – which can cause serious injury and interrupt local power supplies. 

With a detailed picture of what’s hidden underground, fewer and smaller-scale excavations will be required to safely identify underground equipment. That means less machinery, less digging, and less carbon emissions and a more cost-effective service.

Ian Cameron, head of innovation at UK Power Networks, said: “Utility Survey Exchange is a unique data project. It is harnessing the power of collective, shared knowledge with the pace and potency of digital technology. We are delighted to be leading a team of specialists to make our network more efficient and effective through innovative solutions in support of the Energy Data Taskforce recommendations.”

Funded by Transport for London (TfL), it is the first time that shared ground investigation data has been used to establish a collaborative portal to create a more accurate picture of utilities.

The project runs until May 2020, led by engineers at UK Power Networks, in collaboration with nine other project partners including industry surveyors and consultants.

John Robinson, director at Malcolm Hughes Land Surveyors, said: “Reliable, accurate underground utility survey and asset data is a very valuable resource. Ultimately, it can make the difference between life and death.

“I strongly believe that having existing survey data available to share with other interested asset owners is an excellent idea and should be encouraged. I am happy that UK Power Networks and Utility Survey Exchange are leading the way with this initiative and their proactive stance will provide a safer environment for the future.”

Utility Survey Exchange Ltd is responsible for the delivery and ownership of the project.


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