Kick the cones: efficient road works using real time data

Case study

The challenge

Roadworks are costly and inconvenient. Not knowing what is underground can lead to further disruption, increased costs, long delays and can risk the safety of workers. This research aimed to improve the planning, efficiency and safety of road works by providing integrated real-time access to the records of all underground pipes and cables to road workers, and planners, while also reducing costs.  

The solution

Professor Anthony Cohn’s team collected information about underground infrastructure networks and created a mapping system that shows layers of pipes and cables. They, and a range of partners, used this to create a single accessible database of Scotland’s underground infrastructure, which can be filtered as required to show real-time data relevant to specific queries, via a secure web interface. 

The impact

The integrated data has had an immediate and lasting impact on the safety and efficiency of roadworks. It improved safety for on-site workers as they have accurate information about potential hazards. The availability of real-time, comprehensive data improved the efficiency of road works, leading to fewer delays and minimising disruption. With one day of disruption often costing over £3000 per excavation, the financial savings are also significant. The project is multi-award winning for its novel way of collating and presenting information about underground infrastructure and its innovative use of real-time data.