Mapping underground assets in the UK: Project Iceberg. Work Package 1, market research into current state of play and global case studies

Likhari, Rimaljit; Webb, Stefan; Bricker, Stephanie; Bonsor, Helen; Frith, Nicole; Catchpole, Sasha. 2017 Mapping underground assets in the UK: Project Iceberg. Work Package 1, market research into current state of play and global case studies. British Geological Survey, 72pp. (OR/17/052) (Unpublished)

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Project Iceberg is an exploratory project undertaken by Future Cities Catapult, British Geological Survey (BGS) and Ordnance Survey (OS). The project aims to address the serious issue of the lack of information about the ground beneath our cities and the un-coordinated way in which the subsurface space is managed. Difficulties relating to data capture and sharing of information about subsurface features are well understood by some sectors and have been explored in previous research and industry reports, many of which are highlighted in this report. This study does not replicate past work, but rather reviews outcomes and explores the barriers to wider uptake of subsurface management systems within integrated city management. The long-term goal is to help increase the viability of land for development and de-risk future investment through better management of subsurface data. To help achieve this, our study aims to enable a means to discover and access relevant data about the ground’s physical condition and assets housed within it, in a way that is suitable for modern, data driven decision-making processes. The project considers both physical infrastructure i.e. underground utilities and natural ground conditions i.e. geological data and is divided into three different work packages:  Work Package 1: Market research and analysis  Work Package 2: Data operation systems and interoperability for a subsurface data platform  Work Package 3: Identification of use cases for a subsurface data platform This report summarises the findings of work package 1 and identifies the following key findings and recommendations.  There is substantial potential for commercialisation of data tools and data services using an integrated surface-subsurface data platform, which would support, for example, urban planning, redevelopment, infrastructure assessments and street works. Realising the full benefit of these opportunities relies on the sharing of data beyond statutory undertakers, albeit with suitable controls in place. Statutory undertakers do not necessarily have the national overview, capability or remit to develop an integrated platform.  Stakeholders acknowledge that incomplete subsurface information means that land value is not being protected or worse, is being diminished and that organisations are incurring 6 indirect costs due to project delays and requirements for additional surveys. However, the direct costs of obtaining subsurface data and the indirect costs incurred because of incomplete access to subsurface data is largely unknown.  Amendments to existing and introduction of new data standards (PAS 128 and PAS 256) make provision for more consistent and accurate data capture of buried utilities. Sharing of more accurate utility data will be facilitated and links to building information models and smart city standards will be more explicit. However, currently, storage of data and the integrity of data stores is not being addressed consistently at national level.  There is a currently a lack of national standard that addresses commercial sensitivities and security risks concerning subsurface data sharing that can potentially guide “the right people getting access to the right and comprehensive set of data, at the right time without fear that parts of it have been redacted or manipulated”  Investment in research and innovation to support the development of tools to identify the location of buried infrastructure has been successful and new systems are being brought to the market that will enable more accurate mapping of underground infrastructure.  Precedents have been set for the sharing of underground utility data of national importance – exemplar projects, such as the VAULT and Greater Manchester Open Data Infrastructure Map (GMODIN), demonstrate successful collaboration across the utility sector to generate an integrated utility infrastructure map. Meanwhile adoption of AGS data formats by the ground investigation community has led to large-scale sharing of geotechnical data. National scale sharing of buried utility data has only been demonstrated in Scotland, largely driven by nationalised utilities. Upscaling of exemplar projects across the UK needs prioritising.  The National Infrastructure Commission, Infrastructure Projects Authority and Digital Built Britain should take leadership of the development of an integrated data framework that combines surface and subsurface data. Future legislation and standards may be required to ensure the accurate and standardised capture and supply of buried infrastructure data.  The benefits and business opportunities that may be delivered through an integrated data framework that embeds subsurface data are not sufficiently highlighted to stakeholders. Thus, the incentives and business drivers to collaborate on a subsurface data platform need to be better illustrated. Project Iceberg WP3 goes some way to addressing this but further work is needed.

Item Type: Publication - Report
Funders/Sponsors: Future Cities Catapult, British Geological Survey, Ordnance Survey
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This item has been internally reviewed but not externally peer-reviewed
Date made live: 19 Jan 2018 16:20 +0 (UTC)

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