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Surveying Services at Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport’s repair, maintenance and improvement teams know how it only takes one service strike incident – usually as a result of digging into a low voltage electricity cable – to cause severe disruption or even death.

To reduce these risks all the locations of the services must be known exactly, right down to the centimetre. Using OS MasterMap Topography, the data files from various utility companies can be loaded straight into Heathrow’s own GIS/CAD. This saves time and resources and helps accurately locate buried assets for safe and efficient maintenance.

What were the challenges?

  • Identifying risks of existing underground utilities.
  • Surveyors were unable to conduct accurate assessments of an area due to insufficient data.
  • Incomplete surveys due to lack of manhole access.
  • Making the survey process safer and more efficient.
  • Having accurate and comprehensive information available early in a project’s life cycle.
  • Reducing the number of service strikes made by machine (75%).

What was the solution?

PAS128 – a new specification for underground utility detection, verification and location – was launched in June 2014, after which Heathrow mandated all surveys to start in early design using the PAS128 collaborative approach. It introduced OS MasterMap Topography, and under the terms of Heathrow’s infrastructure licence, utility companies can provide the topography data files containing their asset locations for loading straight into the airport operators’ own GIS/CAD.

"Ultimately it only takes one incident to change someone’s life. There are around 50,000 LV strikes across the country each year according to the Energy Networks Association and 140 people a year are injured or worse by service strikes to LV cables according to HSE figures in 2011. The need for accurate location information of services before digging is extremely important."
Andy Rhoades, Head of Service Protection, Heathrow Airport

What were the benefits?

  • Greater confidence in information. Project queries can be made on site.
  • Progressive delivery of information instead of at the end of a project.
  • Data can be integrated and stored within a GIS, along with associated meta data.
  • Machine controls could be introduced to reduce the number of service strikes.
  • Accurate information from trusted data means staff are able to set out rather than resurvey when the project comes to construction.
  • Accurate location of buried assets.
  • Time and resources saved: Survey once and use forever.

For accurate location of underground assets, utility companies use our OS MasterMap Topography data. This saves time and resource and ensures accurate location of buried assets.

Better surveying with Topography Layer

For the most detailed, intelligent map of Great Britain's landscape, choose OS MasterMap Topography Layer.

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