A new data sharing scheme could save HS2 some £10M according to the project’s brainchild.
Engineers have been given a “call to arms” to make the industry more efficient by sharing more early ground investigation data.
Called “Dig to Share”, the project – organised by Atkins, Morgan Sindall and the British Geological Survey (BGS) and supported by HS2 – aims to overhaul behaviour in the industry by encouraging engineers to share ground investigation data.
Under Dig to Share’s vision all ground investigation data would have to be shared with a UK-wide, free-to-access central database which could then be accessed by different project stakeholders.
Sharing data and information about ground conditions and boreholes across major projects would help cut time and money spent on redesigning assets, making the industry more efficient.
Dig to Share project manager Sophie Payne explained how her experiences working in tunnelling on major schemes including Crossrail, Tideway and HS2 helped convince her better data sharing is needed.
Payne believes the industry could stand to reap significant benefits from better data sharing, with HS2 Phase 2 alone saving up to £10M by drilling fewer boreholes and relying on good data instead.
“It was just one of those things where I thought it’s a bit crazy that we don’t do this, so why don’t we try to tackle it?” Payne said.
“A huge part of it for us is creating a community around open data and creating this self-perpetuating model for data-sharing, the idea that as an industry we are all feeding this data in, and we can all pull it out again.”
Currently ground investigation data is shared with the BGS on a voluntary basis but information is often held in separate databases on individual projects, shared in hard-to-use PDF formats and handed over too late to be helpful to other projects.
After winning £50,000 from industry innovation platform i3P’s Spark programme to develop the project, representatives from across the supply chain were interviewed to help Payne and the team get to the bottom of what is stopping engineers from sharing ground investigation data.
The research shows complications with getting permission from clients to share data with BGS early enough in a project for the data to be useful are common, and contracts can incentivise contractors to drill boreholes rather than write reports.
“The technology isn’t the barrier to the project, what we’re finding is that there’s a bigger and more complex issue around behaviours,” said Payne.
Armed with a good picture of what is driving the problem, Payne and the team will start coming up with a strategy to address the blockers from September – and want the industry’s help.
“Ideally what we want to be doing is working with people across industry to discuss some of these solutions, potentially trialling them and seeing what their viewpoint is,” Payne said.
“We all stand to benefit from it. I think [ground investigation data sharing] often gets put in the ‘too hard’ box.”
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