The purpose of the attempt is to increase safety measures during underground works and reduce the maintenance costs of the network. UK's Geospatial Commission will be responsible to create the underground map which will include gas and water pipes as well as electricity and telecommunication cables. According to officials, the total cost of accidents in underground infrastructure can reach up to $1.5 million annually.
“When workers strike pipes and cables it risks lives, costs money, causes havoc for residents and road-users. Our investment in this groundbreaking data sharing model is just one way that the government is working smarter so that we really make a difference to people’s everyday lives,” Oliver Dowden, Cabinet Office minister, stated.
Greater London Authority (GLA) in cooperation with local authorities and infrastructure providers will lead the underground mapping in the city of London. In the North East, the attempt is led by Ordnance Survey, collaborating with Northumbrian Water, Northern Gas Networks, Northern Powergrid, and Openreach. “The creation of an underground map of utility assets has long been an ambition of Ordnance Survey, and over the last year we have been working closely with Northumbrian Water, and a consortia of utility companies and local authorities in the north east of England, to explore how accurate geospatial data can improve underground infrastructure maintenance and inform new build development projects. The investment being made by the geospatial commission will ultimately enable the utility industry to more efficiently access, use and share data describing otherwise hidden infrastructure, thereby reducing operational costs, minimizing disruption and accelerating completion of site works,” the managing director of Ordnance Survey Great Britain, David Henderson, stated.
Until now, efforts to produce underground maps of infrastructure have been conducted by some organizations but there is a lack of a universal, detailed map. When the project is completed, workers will be able to see pipes and cables using their smart phones or laptops before they begin an underground work.