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Managing underground assets: Project Iceberg

Ever wondered what’s underneath your feet around Britain’s towns and cities? Project Iceberg has been set up to help unearth this buried data.

Recognising the need to collaborate across sectors, we've set up a public Project Iceberg communications channel. You can join in the conversation by completing our short form below.

What is Project Iceberg?

Project Iceberg is a collaborative project between Ordnance Survey (OS), British Geological Survey (BGS) and Future Cities Catapult (FCC) to explore how to better capture, collect and share data about underground assets and geological conditions.

Currently there’s a lack of information about the features beneath our towns and cities; there’s incomplete data; and the approach to managing subsurface space is isolated and uncoordinated.

The aim of Project Iceberg is to demonstrate the value of interoperable data about the subsurface including buried assets: to find a way of sharing all this information among a wide range of relevant organisations including utility and energy companies, the transport sector, street works planners and building developers, as well as the public sector.

The benefits of sharing underground data

Combining above and below-ground information into one national single data model/data exchange framework will allow the industry to share business developments and innovation activities.

Having one single framework will also help people working on cross-sector projects to make better decisions. Not knowing where features are below the ground can cause significant disruption, wasted time and resource, delays in development or street works, and sometimes damage to other utilities meaning extra costs. The framework helps reduce the ‘unknowns’, saving organisations time and money and giving them a clearer picture of underground infrastructure and natural ground conditions across our cities.

There’s also huge potential to integrate new technologies to benefit businesses and citizens. For example, augmented reality (AR) can be used before a dig to safely identify the location of existing pipes; or it could help evaluate the performance of urban drainage schemes to help manage flood risk.

When the right information is brought together and shared, underground asset management and above-ground planning will become a lot easier… and we’ll know exactly what’s beneath our feet.

National Underground Asset Register pilots

The Geospatial Commission recently announced £3.9m investment for two pilot projects in the North East of England and London to evaluate the benefits of a National Underground Asset Register (NUAR).

These two pilot projects focus on the use of an underground utility asset register for strike avoidance – to prevent striking assets when digging. Working with the Geospatial Commission, the Iceberg Industry Group will be reviewing additional applications and identifying the benefits of an underground asset register and using subsurface data in a better way.


Join in the conversation. Request to join our Project Iceberg communications channel

Complete our short form and you'll receive a link to our Project Iceberg communications channel on Slack.