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London to create digital map of underground pipes and cables

Water pipe road

London’s gas, water and electricity infrastructure is to be digitally mapped to help engineers working on utility projects.

The Mayor of London’s Office has secured as share of £3.9M to create London’s Underground Asset Register, which will map where electricity and telephone cables as well as gas and water pipes are buried.

The scheme will allow workers to locate underground infrastructure on their mobile phones, tablets or laptops before they start construction.

The Mayor’s Office claims this will reduce roadwork disruption through better planning and coordination between infrastructure providers and local authorities.

London’s mayor Sadiq Khan’s chief digital officer Theo Blackwell said: “This is another practical example of how we are using data to improve the lives of Londoners. It forms part of a wider body of work to improve the quality of data across London’s planning systems. This will help us lower construction costs, improve coordination between utility and infrastructure companies and uncover London’s hidden assets.”

It is estimated that the cost to the UK’s economy of accidental strikes on underground pipes and cables is £1.2bn a year. Workers hitting gas and electric pipes by mistake can also put themselves in danger of death or serious injury.

Known as London’s Underground Asset Register (LUAR), the scheme will operate across six local authorities that are currently being selected. The Mayor’s Office is working closely with utilities, transport providers, and other partners to create the digital map. A similar project is also underway in Sunderland.

Deputy mayor for planning, regeneration and skills Jules Pipe added: “This innovative use of data has the potential to revolutionise day-to-day operations in the infrastructure sector.

“This pilot scheme is great news for London and will build on the successful work we’ve done in this area so far. At City Hall we’ll be working in partnership with a wide group of stakeholders – from local authorities to utilities companies – and I look forward to the progress we can make together.”

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