Network Innovation Allowance

Line Search

Project Data

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The data generated by this project will tell us where, who, when, and what has been done near our network helping to identify fault locations, prevent third party damage and aid cost recovery. Also user feedback gathered will be used to improve asset data quality which will help improve safety.

What is the project about?

Line search before you dig (LSBUD) is a free to use online search service that any individual can use to check their works against over 75 asset owners’ utility assets. Every day LSBUD receive over 3000 enquires from Users requesting UK Power Networks’ network maps. The data generated by this activity will tell us Where, Who, When, and What has been done near our network. Gathering feedback from the Users could be utilised to improve the quality of asset data.

The Line Search project provides an avenue for improvement through two main methods:

1) Capture user’s feedback which will be visualised (on a GIS platform) and utilise the existing data captured by LSBUD in order to relate to third party faults.

2) Maximise the opportunity to get feedback on data quality through crowdsourced data return.


Line Search allows utilities to:

1) Undertake protection activities based on the knowledge of third party working.

2) Relate to damages to understand what third parties have done before a utility strike leading to quicker fault location determination.

3) Escalate certain works based on work type or proximity to more sensitive assets.

4) Prioritise areas of the network with poor data quality and plan for corrective actions.

How we’re doing it

UK Power Networks provides network maps to a huge variety of third parties (‘Users’) working near its network on a daily basis. These include utilities, contractors, developers, the general public and landowners. There is always a risk that these parties may accidentally strike a buried cable. This endangers lives, incurs costs, causes disruption and can result in reputational damage to the instigator and the asset owner.

Occasionally the data recording the asset location is inaccurate. This introduces uncertainty, risk and additional cost into construction projects. It may also have a negative impact on the UK economy and society as a whole.

The root cause of the problem lies in the historical difficulties of capturing accurate asset locations in the days before technology made this a routine task.

What makes it innovative

What makes this innovative is that we will be able to transfer LSBUD data into UK Power Networks systems via an API and launching a user survey feedback form.

This makes third party ‘User’ data available to UK Power Networks and allowing the visualisation in a geospatial analytics web application (GSA). A heat map representation showing all the third party enquiries we have received about our network as well as the contents of the feedback form. Using this data to improve safety, improve data quality, fault location, third party damage prevention and cost recovery.

What we’re learning

To follow best practice and avoid data duplication, we decided to adopt the original user’s reference number when linking the LSBUD API to the GSA application for future tracking and reporting purposes.

Third party contractors will typically consult the free LSBUD online search service to request utility maps. Although all necessary data is available from LSBUD we concluded that for greater flexibility and better control over the data, the feedback form should be hosted by the asset owner (UK Power Networks in this case).

Over the course of the trial, we have seen a significant increase in feedback from users due to the implementation of a QR code embedded on the network map. We previously found that recipients of our enquiry emails were not necessarily the field staff working on the ground but administrators hence the low feedback response. Introduction of a QR code on our network maps ensured field staff could quickly and easily open and complete the feedback form

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