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University collaborates on web-based GIS system

A WEB-BASED GIS system is set to change the way site investigation teams access ground conditions and underground utility information, its developers claim.

Manchester University is developing the system with underground utilities mapping company 40Seven.

The project began when the university hired 40Seven to survey and map the 52ha university site, locating all underground utility services.

Manchester assistant electrical engineer Andy Belcher said: 'It was felt there was an urgent need to consolidate all underground service information, so that it could be accessed by anyone involved in development and construction work on the Manchester University site.' When 40Seven finished its 10-month contract it produced a CD-Rom and plans. But, the 'rm's operations manager Wayne Fawcett said, 'It quickly became clear that to enable sharing of the information, a good idea would be to set up a web-based GIS that would combine and supply all spatial data at whatever point was being looked at on site.' Although ultimate responsibility still lies with the groundwork contractor, the web-based GIS provides more detailed information at the planning stage, which means subsequent projects would not have to start with a blank canvas, the team said.

'The beauty of the system is that once the initial survey data has been gathered, plotted in CAD, then georeferenced and set up on a website, it is extremely easy to combine other associated utility detail such as CCTV footage, images, topographical surveys and spreadsheets, ' Fawcett said.

'The end result is a complete multi-faceted, multi-layered web site that can be easily accessed.' Belcher added: 'The overall benefit of the web-based GIS is the ease of maintaining records and the flexibility the system provides to bolt-on additional systems in the future.

'We also have complete control as, although it is hosted by 40Seven, access to the system is granted through the issue of a password, which can be managed by 40Seven once a contractor or consultant has been awarded a contract.'

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