Northern Gas Networks increases efficiencies through business process automation

Northern Gas automates its traffic management business processes and sees an increase in efficiencies, by using OS data and with help from an OS Partner.

Northern Gas Networks (NGN) is the gas distributor for the North of England, supplying 2.7 million homes and businesses. Geospatial solutions are fundamental to NGN’s daily operations, including representing the accurate positions of assets – data that is vital for emergency response, maintenance activities, capacity design and ensuring the safety of the network.

NGN wanted to make the current process for completing traffic management plans more efficient and cost-effective. After releasing a Call for Innovation, 1Spatial came forward as specialists in automating business processes using geospatial data.

  • AddressBase
  • OS MasterMap Highways Network - Roads


Making the planning of street works safer and more efficient

  • The planning necessary to carry out safe network maintenance operations currently relies upon specialist knowledge and experience, and site-based discussions between several parties. This process can require multiple site visits, creating time delays in decision-making for traffic management plans.
  • Demonstrating uniform decision-making when planning street works can therefore be a challenge.
  • Unforeseen circumstances can create hazards for field workers, cause traffic delays or supply outages to the general public, and result in fines for utilities.
  • Automating the creation of traffic management plans for street works would increase efficiency and save costs for utilities.


Including OS data in a traffic management plan prototype

Northern Gas Networks worked with the Energy Innovation Centre (EIC) and 1Spatial to build a prototype system using OS data which could automate the creation of traffic management plans for street works. This included encoding industry regulations that would ensure that plans automatically adhere to any relevant rules.

It also identifies any addresses within the affected area to create impact zone notification letters, and shares plans with key stakeholders such as local authorities.

  • OS MasterMap Highways Network was used to establish the geometry of roads, along with identifying the unique street reference numbers (USRNs) and road speed limits.
  • OS AddressBase was used to identify addresses affected by the planned street works, including addresses that may not be supplied by NGN and high priority addresses such as schools.
  • We provided specialist technical support to help NGN and 1Spatial to get the best value from using the OS MasterMap Topography layer throughout the hugely innovative project.


The advantages of business process automation

  • End-to-end production of traffic management plans can now be fully automated, adhere to industry regulations and presented in one format accessible to all stakeholders.
  • NGN was able to save time and costs caused by involving third parties, completing multiple site visits and the back-office work previously necessary to create traffic management plans,by using OS data to find information about the site and surrounding highways network
  • Using AddressBase, NGN could also improve efficiency in the planning process by quickly identifying affected and priority addresses
  • NGN is implementing this solution across operational activities. 1Spatial is refining the prototype system so that it can be adopted by other utilities and local authorities.

"The ability for our own designers, planners and engineers to generate traffic management plans, at the click of a button, is a potential game-changer for the industry. What’s most exciting about this innovation for me, is the ability to make our schemes even more customer focused. By building in key information such as local traffic flows, we can design schemes which are less disruptive, and more sensitive to local issues."

Richard Hynes-Cooper, Head of Innovation, Northern Gas Networks

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Products and solutions featured in this study

  • AddressBase

    AddressBase matches 29 million Royal Mail postal address to unique property reference numbers, bringing a new dimension to the matched records.

  • OS MasterMap Highways Network - Roads

    A navigable road network dataset with detailed information about planned roads and roads under construction for Great Britain.