OS and Northumbrian Water create pioneering underground map

Last week, the Northumbrian Water Group Innovation Festival took place – and it was a huge success! 510 of the world’s leading businesses and most innovative minds gathered for this event to tackle 13 major social and environmental challenges.

As detailed in our previous blog, our sprint team’s role at the festival was to create the first combined underground map of the region in collaboration with key stakeholders such as utilities, local authorities and partners. The idea was to create a Combined Infrastructure Map (CIM) for Newcastle and its surrounding area including water, wastewater, gas, electricity, telecoms and other underground services.

Front row: Tim Martin, Paul Chuter, Andy Wilson, Clive Surman-Wells (NWG), Karen Hunt, Santi Jangot, Bart Chudas, Paddy Garrett (NWG). Back row: Steve Kingston, Greg Davis, Danny Hyam, Bart de Lathouwer (OGC), Tim Manners, Neil Brammell (Utility Survey Exchange), Agim Isufaj, Carsten Roensdorf.

During the week, we looked at what would be needed to make the CIM a reality. We dug a hole close to the festival site to help us understand the problem and we heard multiple examples of similar projects from around the world (including KLIP in Belgium) to learn how others had done it. We also looked at defining a Data Sharing Agreement so, when the project moves to the next stage, we have an agreement in place with the stakeholders.

A separate stream was tasked with producing the benefits and business case of the CIM to see what utilities, industry, stakeholders, wider community, customers and the environment could gain from having such a map in place. By the end of the week, we were able to demonstrate a working system that allowed users (those who dig holes and then plan works) to query the data and do their job more efficiently.

We were very pleased to find out NWG (Northumbrian Water Group) were delighted with the outcome. It was a fantastic demonstration of cross OS teamwork, and all the stakeholders present voted unanimously to see OS as the favoured central hub provider.

Watch this space!

On the last day, we created a consortium to take the project to the next stage – all members agreed to create a live pilot in Sunderland. Made up of NWG, Northern Powergrid, Northern Gas Network, Openreach, Sunderland City Council, Newcastle University, Durham County Council and Newcastle City Council, we are all meeting in early September to start the pilot.

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