Northumbrian Water will lead the way with a new roadside infrastructure pilot project with Ordnance Survey (OS) and Intel’s Mobileye.

The project aims to create a dataset of roadside infrastructure in Britain for a customisable location information service. 

The company will be fitting its fleet of vans and cars with Mobileye’s camera-based mapping technology, which will consistently capture a street-level view of the roadside infrastructure as the vehicles travel across the north east.

The images will be analysed and log the presence and location of relevant roadside furniture, such as water valves, manhole covers, and fire hydrants.

This data is regularly uploaded to the cloud, where OS gather it and try to accurately locate it on a map, using the vehicle’s existing GPS data and Ordnance Survey’s own geolocation algorithms.

Precise identification of these landmarks is beneficial to Northumbrian Water as they give hints of the location of the water company’s largely underground infrastructure.

It is hoped that the technology will allow Northumbrian Water to enhance its existing asset data, improving the speed and accuracy with which the company can identify and link above-ground and underground assets. More accurate knowledge of the location of underground assets should reduce the 50,000 utility strikes Britain sees every year.

This process will be happening constantly as a multitude of vehicles travel along the roads, which should mean far greater map accuracy than a single pass through, and means the data can be updated in real time.

The map will be able to provide valuable real-time updates of asset condition, improving efficiency of the planning and execution of maintenance program.

Clive Surman-Wells, Northumbrian Water Group operations solutions manager, said: “We’re really excited and proud to be the first utility company to have the opportunity to try this brand new innovative technology. There are so many benefits that have the potential to really change the game when it comes to helping manage our networks and keep our customers’ water flowing.”

Neil Ackroyd, OS interim chief executive, added: “At OS we strive to create environments that support new technologies and data services across the public and private sector. The initial trials are already delivering a deeper and richer level of data which we are confident will bring added value to our customers.”

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