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Sharing geotechnical information 'could cut costs'

hs2 tunnel portal

An industry expert at Britain’s biggest infrastructure client has called for all information collected by geotechnical investigations to be inputted into a central database to cut the cost of construction.

High Speed 2 (HS2) ground investigation programme manager Steve Reynolds said it should be mandatory to input all information collected from geotechnical investigations into a UK wide central database which could then be accessed by different project stakeholders. The British Geological Survey (BGS) already holds a database, but inputting into it is voluntary.

Reynolds said one of the major risks in any construction project were the unknowns in the ground. Having readily available data at earlier stages in the project would help to mitigate the risks and bring down the cost of construction.

“Infrastructure construction historically always goes over budget and over time because you start designing before you really understand what you’re designing for,” said Reynolds. “You have incomplete design information which means you’re changing the design half way through and it drains the industry.

“It’s a massive source of waste.”

Having the information on an open access platform would drive efficiency and productivity in the industry he said.

“You look at the unique cost of doing a 60m rotary core, how much of that is money well spent if there are other boreholes which have been done close by?” he said.

“Why are we inflating construction industry costs in the UK which has the knock on effect of inflating everyone else’s costs. Why do that for the sake of holding on to the data that you’ve used, why do you then need to keep that private?”

Reynolds said the information collected should not be viewed as intellectual property, simply facts about the ground.

“No one else is going to use it to build your building on top of you,” he said. “It’s all about the best solution not about the data, that’s where we need to get to. If the cost of construction is cheaper, that drives down house prices, infrastructure cost and taxes.”

Norway has already taken the step and is to make it legal requirement to input the data into a central database next year.

“It’s an entirely logical step to take,” said Reynolds.


Readers' comments (1)

  • If this was the case, who in their right mind would conduct such surveys? Unless there is some sort of mechanism for financial recovery from other users. Surely this would lead to organisations "making do" with information from surrounding sites, potentially extrapolating information beyond reasonable means.

    One way or another, you will always pay for the ground investigation; it's simply a matter of whether it is planned and budgeted for or rears it's ugly head mid-construction on the discovery of unfavourable conditions.

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