Sensat News

Beyond the Surface: Visualising Buried Utilities

June 1, 2023

Locating underground utilities is vital. Accidental damage to utilities during works can have severe consequences, from network outages to property damage and even loss of life. However, the challenge lies in accurately locating and understanding underground utilities within the real-world context.

Following our time at Utility Week Live, we gathered a lot of interest around our buried utility visualisation for utility strike prevention. For those of you who have missed us or want to know more about how teams are visualising their buried utilities, this snapshot blog reveals why and how our clients are taking steps to understand what is below the surface.

Understanding the risks of uncertain utility location

Locating underground utilities can be easier said than done and is a task that often requires significant time allocation when project planning. Over time, existing records and maps documenting utility locations can become outdated or incomplete, making them unreliable. Moreover, the complex web of gas pipelines, water mains, electrical cables, and telecommunication lines can make it difficult to determine their exact positions.

Today, teams identify underground utilities through physical inspections, ground-penetrating radar (GPR) or electromagnetic locating devices. Teams need to use this data alongside the wider environment to understand it. Without real-world context, project teams cannot confidently make decisions which leads to costly delays, unexpected damage, and service disruptions.

Layering buried utilities over the real-world environment

After collecting underground utility data, technology like Sensat’s visualisation platform, are helping teams to layer buried utility data over the real-world environment in order to:

1. Enhance visual understanding and situational awareness

Visualisation platforms offer virtual representations of buried utilities, allowing project managers to inspect their exact locations, depths, and spatial relationships with the surrounding environment. This empowers project managers to make informed decisions and plan infrastructure works more effectively.

Underground utilities overlaid on top of the real world in Sensat

2. Detect clashes before they impact works

By overlaying existing utility records, survey data, and other relevant information onto 3D models, teams comprehensively understand the underground infrastructure network. This enables them to identify potential conflicts, clashes with the real world, or congestion areas before construction begins, leading to more efficient design processes and reducing the risk of costly errors or rework.

Clash detection in Sensat

3. Improve site safety

By embracing visualisation technology, project managers can enhance safety and mitigate risks. They can simulate different scenarios and assess the potential impact of proposed infrastructure works on existing underground utilities. This proactive approach helps identify high-risk areas, implement appropriate safety measures, and minimise the likelihood of accidents or service disruptions during construction.

Leveraging reality in underground utility mapping

Today, Catsurveys and Sensat have partnered to layer highly detailed data into the backdrop of reality. Using this teams are unlocking powerful data collection using the context of reality to enhance project planning and increase decision certainty. To learn more about this partnership get in touch with our team.

Above: Video showing Catsurvey data imported into Sensat to be viewed within the context of reality.

Embracing utility visualisation technology for enhanced project planning

Visualising buried utilities within a digital environment revolutionises project management in the utility industry. Creating accurate 3D models allows teams to fully understand the underground infrastructure, which was previously challenging to visualise in the real world.

By using 3D modelling within the real-world context, project teams can make more informed decisions, prevent accidents, and improve safety. With the power to unlock a deep understanding of below-ground utilities, project managers can confidently navigate construction projects, ensuring successful outcomes and a safer working environment. Embracing visualisation technology is not just a step in the right direction but a giant leap toward transforming how underground utilities are located, managed, and protected in the modern era.

To learn more about different methods of data capture, check out our guide: Unlocking the power of data: Accessing the right survey data faster