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Geotechnical clients face data access and storage challenge

Major geotechnical asset owners are looking to use innovative technologies to ensure data on structures and earthworks is readily available.

Speaking at GE’s Smart Data and Monitoring Seminar yesterday both Highways England principal geotechnical advisor David Patterson and Network Rail head of geotechnics Simon Abbott discussed the issue.

“There is a huge challenge around how we store data for future generations,” said Abbott during his presentation that looked at how Network Rail is using its monitoring data to mitigate risk.

Patterson discussed the work that Highways England has been undertaking since 2002 to manage its data more effectively. “Before 2002 there were silos of good practice but we were not taking a whole network approach,” he said.

Highways England has developed a data repository that has been digitising historic paper-based records and now contains more than 16,500 geotechnical reports.

Despite the ability to store data in AGS format, Paterson commented that the organisation has seen a drop off in AGS files since 2010 and is trying to engage with the supply chain to understand why this data is not being transferred.

Nonetheless, Arup senior consultant Tony Daly, who has been working with Highways England to explore use of open source software for data storage, said that AGS format is not ideal for geotechnical clients to access data as many do not the bespoke software needed to read it.

Daly added that the quantity of data generated is also a challenge. “Common data environments should a be good thing but the fact is that multiple environments exist within each project – often one for each phase or element of work – and this is repeated across multiple projects,” he said.


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