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Line Search

Line Search is an innovative new project which allows customers and third parties to provide insight and feedback on our underground cable network. In doing so, the project aims to maximise data quality through crowdsourcing, improve on-site safety and keep power flowing efficiently.

Project-on-a-Page summary

Project data

Start date: 01/05/2020
End date: 30/06/2021
Budget: £209,000

We provide detailed maps of our underground network to a wide variety of third parties (or ‘users’) working near our equipment on a daily basis. These include other utilities, contractors, the construction industry, property developers, the general public and landowners. We share this information make sure that any construction or digging work near our network is completed safely, efficiently and effectively.

With an estimated 90,000 miles of underground cables in our license areas alone, it’s important we continue to build an updated, detailed and accurate picture of all of our underground assets, many of which were installed long before modern digital technology.

Line Search is using the power of crowdsourcing to gather detailed data and help make that picture clearer than ever.

We’re integrating our technology with the free, online Line Search Before U Dig (LSBUD) platform, which allows users to check their digging project against information from 75 different owners of buried electrical equipment. Every day, the site receives more than 3,000 inquiries for our underground maps alone. the Line Search project will give those who use our maps the opportunity to give us data about the work they have completed and feedback about our maps.

With detailed information on ‘who’, ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘when’, we’ll visualise the data we gather on an interactive digital map to create a complete picture of exactly what’s happening across our network. We’ll also be able to correlate any works being completed with any issues that arise, helping us to create a more reliable network and keep power flowing securely.

With a visualised map, we can also better understand which areas of the network need more data and help inform third parties how and when they should complete their projects.

We’ve never tried this approach of gathering data before. Working with LSBUD is a novel approach to improving our picture of underground assets, and we’ll be able to share the new geospatial platform with other utilities. In doing so, we’ll be using the power of crowdsourcing to unlock benefits for all.

Line Search is a trial project that will help us to better understand:

  • How we can access third party, or ‘user’, data about our maps and visualise it on a new geospatial platform.
  • Whether this approach is effective in improving safety, data quality, fault location times, third party damage prevention and cost savings for a specified trial area.
  • If third parties also find this approach effective and useful.
  • The feasibility and potential benefits of using this approach if we rolled it out across the entire network.

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