Government working on digital map of underground pipes and cables
The Government has announced that its Geospatial Commission is working to bring together the existing data on underground pipes and cables to create a digital map.
The Underground Asset Register, which will show the location of gas and water pipes as well as electricity and phone cables, is designed to prevent both accidents and disruption to the economy.
There is currently no comprehensive underground map of the UK’s service network. Different organisations have their own maps showing the location of underground assets, but the lack of a combined map creates an increased risk of potentially lethal accidents, while it is estimated that the cost of utility strikes to the UK economy is £1.2 billion a year.
To test the feasibility of the concept, £3.9 million pilot projects are underway in London and the North East, where Northumbrian Water has been working alongside Ordnance Survey.
Minister for Implementation Oliver Dowden visited Sunderland to see the work that is underway to map the network and allow workers to locate pipes and cables on mobile phones or laptops before they start a dig.
"When workers strike pipes and cables, it risks lives, costs money and causes havoc for residents and road users," he said. "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."
The project in the North East has been led by Ordnance Survey, which has worked with Northumbrian Water, Northern Gas Networks, Northern Powergrid and Openreach.
In London, work going forward will be led by the Greater London Authority, which is 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."
Northumbrian Water CEO Heidi Mottram, who hosted the visit, said: "We are delighted to host the Minister for Implementation today to demonstrate the progress we have made since our Innovation Festival last year, when we first started exploring this idea.
"Working alongside local authorities, other utility services and partners has meant that we are off to a good start in mapping Sunderland’s underground. We are looking forward to working with government and others to showcase the powers of data sharing for public good."
- Thames reinvests £3m from third party damage claims Thames Water has recovered almost £3 million in damage claims in the past year, all of which will be reinvested in the... Read More >
- Severn Trent launch UK first fibre optic trial Severn Trent is trialling the use of fibre optic cables inside its pipes, in a bid to reduce the number of leaks and... Read More >
- Northumbrian Water launches wet wipe campaign Northumbrian Water has launched new ‘Bin the Wipe' campaign and is giving away more than 1,400 bins to encourage customers... Read More >
- A glass half-full? Bringing water costs down for utility customers Mark Bullock, Balfour Beatty chief executive officer for rail and utilities, says the water sector must change its... Read More >
- INWED 2019: 'Each step was driven by choosing work I enjoy' To mark International Women in Engineering Day 2019 on 23 June, Fiona Barbour discusses her journey to becoming Mott... Read More >
- Interview: Kier Utilities' water MD Nigel Dyer Kier Utilities' Nigel Dyer tells Robin Hackett how the company is evolving to meet the changing demands on the water... Read More >
- Comment: New tech and partnerships will up the ante on leakage Closer partnerships, technology and connectivity will be the key to tackling leakage, with collaborative delivery... Read More >
- The search for safer streetworks practices Amey Utilities' HSEQ director, Gerry Mulholland, explains how the company’s 2020 Challenge and Know What’s Below... Read More >