Building a framework for buried services

The pipes, cables, and other equipment buried beneath our roads provide the services essential to modern society. Information on where these services are located is important to ensure the safety of workers who need to dig up the road to reach the assets, as well as the safety of the general public. This information exchange will also enable work to be planned to help minimise disruption and inconvenience to road users and the community.

The new group will build on the findings of previous trials, pilots studies, and reports to define and advocate industry-wide standards and protocols for recording and exchanging information. Each member of the group represents a key section of the industry – from utility companies and highway authorities, civil engineers, and surveyors to the geographic information community and regulators. This mix of expertise will facilitate open dialogue across a broad spectrum of disciplines while promoting a collaborative approach.

The group consists of prominent figures from the following UK organizations: Department for Transport (DfT), National Joint Utilities Group (NJUG), Highways Authorities and Utilities Committee (HAUC (UK), Institution of Civil Engineers / Surveyors (ICE/ICES), UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR), Pipeline Industry Guild (PIG), Ordnance Survey, the Association for Geographic Information (AGI), the County Surveyors Society (CSS), and the National Street Works Highways Group (NSWHG).

One of the first items under discussion will be the use of the digital national framework (DNF) – a set of principles that create a basis for sharing data. The aim of DNF is to enable different sources of information, related to any given location, to be easily and reliably integrated and employed. Using geography as a common factor, it is intended that all those with an interest in services located underground will be able to work more safely and effectively together.Amtec Consulting, identified records sharing as one area where a consistent approach could help better coordination and reduce disruption, and can be found on-line at: www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_roads/documents/page/dft_roads_028598.pdf.

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