Launching UK's National Underground Asset Register feat. Neil Brammall

Ep. 10 |
January 24, 2022

Neil Brammall gives us a crash course on NUAR, the UK's buried infrastructure map, on the ninth episode of the 4M Utility Strategy Podcast!

Neil Brammall, PhD has worked in the utilities sector for over 20 years, creating and delivering geo-spatial software solutions focused on reducing the risk of damage to buried assets, and on improving the accuracy and quality of the data held about those assets.

He is currently Technical Advisor to the Geospatial Commission and Product Owner for the Build Phase of the National Underground Asset Register (NUAR), which is driving the delivery of a comprehensive and secure data sharing platform for buried assets.

Neil provides technical leadership on the project and on the ongoing development of a harmonized data model for the domain. He is hopeful that this initiative will be a game-changer for the industry and will revolutionize the approach to using geospatial data to promote safe and efficient working in the infrastructure sector in the UK.

We talked to Neil about the context, goals, and strategy for the development of NUAR as a map of subsurface infrastructure based on voluntary participation and data sharing by buried asset owners. We looked into some of the key differences between the U.S. and the U.K. in how a shared utility map is created and used—from the advantage of a common basemap provided by the Ordnance Survey, to the negotiation of excavation liability and safety based on documentation rather than a One-Call type system.

Neil also explained NUAR's approach to data quality as a long-term target for improvement, which he believes can be achieved by encouraging participation and generating data feedback loops through the creation of a common map.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Key Takeaways

NUAR is a platform that enables owners of buried assets to share information.

The initiative provides a secure and controlled data-sharing platform that enables the owners of buried assets to share information about those buried assets and those networks, in order to promote safe and efficient working and safe and efficient excavation in proximity. That safety message is really central to the whole project. It's really about providing a view that is combined, comprehensive, interactive, and standardized, and giving that rich view of buried assets to stakeholders.

NUAR promises £350 million per year in direct use cases, and even broader benefits across society.

Of all the possible uses of a map of buried assets, the main use cases for NUAR are safe excavation, onsite efficiency, site orientation, and office efficiencies related to the provision and sharing of data. Once NUAR is up and running, it is predicted to have £350 million per year in benefits and savings in damage prevention and efficiencies.

But the cost of direct repair is just a fraction of the broader societal costs of utility damages. No one asset owner, no one utility bears the full impact of that broader cost: it is a cost that all citizens have to bear, and one that NUAR promises to address.

A shared platform creates a feedback loop to standardize and improve utility data.

The feedback loop is a really important factor for data quality improvement—the ability to feed back on things that you've found in the ground that don't match what's on the map. The act of transforming data into the standardized model is another opportunity to provide useful and objective information about data quality. By reporting back to asset owners on the conformance between their source data and the data model, NUAR can help asset owners improve the quality of their data.

Co-hosts: David Horesh (Director of Marketing) and Ophir Wainer (Director of North American Business Development)

Just in case you missed it, in our previous podcast we had a fantastic talk with Jim Schauer about collaboration, tech innovation, and long-term planning in the energy industry.

And stay tuned! On our next utility strategy podcast, we're hosting Steven Rienks!

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