With an ever-increasing number of street works taking place across the UK’s highway networks each year, telecommunications providers need to take advantage of in-depth analysis and data in order to cut costs, improve quality and speed up widescale fibre deployment, Gaist Head of Business Development, Ian Job said today.
Addressing the specialist consultants at a private street works conference, Job highlighted how in-depth imagery before and after the necessary street works can provide crucial, time-stamped records of the quality of work carried out, adding value and validation for any subsequent warranty claims that may arise to make it easier for all stakeholders.
“Street works from telecoms and utilities companies are commonplace on the UK’s road and footway networks. In order for contractors to successfully roll out ultra-fast and reliable broadband, up to date, detailed intelligence of the UK’s carriageways and footways including the type, condition, access and location of existing assets, is critical,” advised Job.
While the primary purpose of highways is to facilitate safe and convenient travel, roads also serve an important role in accommodating the essential services on which people rely, such as water, gas, electricity and telecoms. To ensure that these services operate reliably, utility companies must occasionally maintain, repair, upgrade and install apparatus under the roads and pavements while ensuring that they are completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Having a detailed overview of the working environment and existing infrastructure is vital to the accurate planning, design and budgeting of installation, maintenance and upgrade projects on the highway network, advised Job.
According to the Asphalt Industry Alliance’s 2019 Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance Survey the number of street works pertaining to utilities openings increased by nearly 10% over the last year, totalling more than 2 million across England and Wales. In many cases, utilities works are completed up to standard and within the projected timeframes, but in some circumstances the works can cause delay and disruption on the road networks. This delay can be intensified when street works are mis-managed or unexpected problems arise.
Local authorities are spending an average of 8% of their carriageway maintenance budget addressing pre-emptive works associated with digging up the ground in order to maintain, repair or upgrade utility services. This amounts to an average of £1.1 million per local authority, or £181.4 million across England and Wales.
“Managing street works can place a strain on already stretched local authority road maintenance budgets,’ said Job. “Early insight into the condition, access and location of existing assets of the working environment can reduce the risk of unexpected delays and additional costs, time and disruption.”
As network providers set their sights on 5G and widespread fibre rollout looks set for the future, network infrastructure is going to become increasingly important. Keeping the costs and timescales of fibre deployment projects to a minimum is going to be crucial to the future network infrastructure, emphasised Job.
Job proceeded to highlight how the in-depth knowledge and advanced data provided by Gaist’s solutions can help operators to plan networks cost-effectively, providing significant savings through improving installation times and minimising disruption to the road network at the same time. With detailed and time-stamped imagery before and after the works, Gaist’s solutions also offers validation for stakeholders should any claims arise.
“The rollout of fibre is no easy task but with our technology we can minimise the unnecessary difficulties and support faster fibre rollout across the UK,” added Job. “In order to ensure accurate planning, budgeting, design and delivery, operators need to understand the critical infrastructure assets of the working environment.”
Gaist’s unique infrastructure digital twin of the UK’s roads and pathways creates a precise view of the highway network that allows network and utility providers to minimise the risk of unexpected setbacks and achieve quantifiable cost savings. Time stamped and location specific imagery of the entire route can provide an audit trails in the event of quality issues further down the line.