OS returns to NWG’s Innovation Festival

Last week, we returned to Northumbrian Water Group (NWG)’s Innovation Festival to build on last year’s success of the underground mapping project (see our previous blog here).

Now in its third year, the festival tackles social and environmental challenges by applying problem solving techniques in sprints, data hacks and workshops over five action-packed days. Over 3,000 people attended from more than 700 organisations to put their minds together to develop innovative solutions to these problems.

Last year saw OS and a number of stakeholders, partners, utilities and local authorities initiate plans for a combined underground infrastructure map detailing the network of pipes and wires beneath our feet. The idea, which started in our sprint tent, has since been adopted by the Geospatial Commission who are looking to launch the project nationally as the National Underground Assets Register (NUAR) using our data and technologies.

The delegates taking part in the sprint we hosted at this year’s Innovation Festival.

Whilst last year focused on underground assets, this year we looked at above ground street-level assets which are important to utility companies and local government such as streetlights, manhole covers, drains or telephone cabinets. We hosted a sprint based around mapping a digital streetscape for utility and other assets (along with other physical features) and explored innovative ways to collect and share this data.

On the first day, we worked with delegates on defining the problem and identifying the needs of potential or existing customers. They discussed which street assets or features, both permanent and temporary, are already recorded and the quality and completeness of these records. They then investigated if any assets are not currently recorded and prioritised as well as which street assets or features are the most important or valuable.

On Tuesday we explored how our current operations, products and technologies could provide a solution and capture the assets and features with efficiency and accuracy. The delegates received demonstrations of our technologies and assessed each against criteria such as cost, efficiency, accuracy, usability and ease of integration. Those that came out on top were vehicle-mounted scanning and geo-rectification. The use of the Mobileye technology to map streetscape assets while it’s driving was popular mainly because of its usability – it is simple to install into a fleet of vehicles and data can be collected immediately. It is also easily verified and uses data integration technology which will detect any inaccuracies and adjust the ‘raw’ positions.

Data captured on the Mobileye demonstration route at the Innovation Festival.

The next challenge was to develop the business case for using these technologies and to produce a workflow covering the integration of the technology, the end-to-end processing of the data and the delivery of the data in a useable format. This included questioning how the customer would receive the data, how it could be incorporated into existing corporate structures and how customers would be notified of any updates to the data.

During the next couple of days at the sprint, we created a data integration tool which would allow utility companies to update their current records to gain a more accurate picture of their existing assets. This would also provide suggestions as to how to improve their current networks and distribution of assets. We also had help from our partner and NWG’s contractor MGISS who helped us to create a user-friendly web interface for customers to view the data collected by the Mobileye units and thereafter processed by OS.

From the results of another very successful sprint, we can now develop a business plan for the further implementation of Mobileye technologies into business fleets across the UK which would allow us to collect streetscape asset data accurately and efficiently. In the future, this will make it easier for utility companies and local government to locate and manage their assets. Additionally, it offers the potential for real time analysis to identify sources and causes of faults and to create efficiencies in maintenance programmes.

Find out more about signing up your fleet to the Roadside Infrastructure Asset Capture Trial.

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