Digital Underground Connect #1: launch of a community of practice

On 2 October 2019, a collective of professionals from land development agencies, surveyors, industry solution providers, and more gathered at the Digital Advancement Academies Hub in Singapore for the launch of Digital Underground Connect: a community of practice for subsurface utility mapping in Singapore.



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Digital Underground: outcomes and the value of a community of practice

After a word of welcome by Dr Victor Khoo (Singapore Land Authority), Rob van Son kicked off the event by sharing the results of the Digital Underground project and underlining the need for a new community of practice. Over the course of 1.5 years, Rob and his team investigated Singapore's utility mapping needs and the challenges that lie ahead towards an accurate, current, and complete map of subsurface utilities for planning and land administration. The study resulted in a comprehensive set of recommendations and the realisation that a reliable map requires contributions from a variety of stakeholders that includes government agencies, utility owners, contractors, surveyors, technology solution providers, and academia. Digital Underground Connect is a direct follow-up that aims to establish a learning network to foster continuous improvement of subsurface utility information and facilitate the exchange of knowledge, problem solving, skills development, and improvement of practices between and for its participants.

Rob's presentation can be downloaded here.


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Managing underground space as valuable asset - governance for underground infrastructure in Rotterdam

One of the cases that was studied by the Digital Underground project is the Municipality of Rotterdam. Driven by a strong need to manage the use of scarce underground space and to ensure safety and resilience of the city and the Port of Rotterdam, the Utility Bureau was established in the 1980s. In his presentation, Edo Roldan Sanchez shared how the Utility Bureau assumes a pro-active role in the coordination of underground utility planning and installation, supervises the utility laying process, and accurately registers the location of underground infrastructure by directly engaging qualified surveyors. Christian Veldhuis continued the presentation with a live demonstration of the Rotterdam 3D city model, in which the information collected by the Utility Bureau is consolidated into a multi-functional model which is used for the purposes of planning, development and construction, and citizen engagement.


As evidenced by the numerous questions asked by the audience, the story of Rotterdam provided an insightful and though-provoking perspective. We thank Edo and Christian for their contribution.


Edo and Christian's presentation can be downloaded here.


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Brainstorm: future directions for Digital Underground Connect


Digital Underground Connect is an open platform in which its participants can actively bring specific topics and challenges to the table. The event was concluded by a brainstorm in which the participants were asked to provide input that help shape DUConnect's next events.


Q1: What are the key topics and challenges that DUConnect should focus on?

  • Information sharing between stakeholders

  • Sharing of practical use cases and real challenges faced by industry

  • Sharing of local and overseas use cases on mapping (existing) underground utilities

  • Governance and regulation of reliable data capture

  • Ensuring that specified requirements and standards are assured and enforced

  • Addressing the issue of additional costs involved for capturing accurate data

  • Development of standards and metadata


Q2: What do you hope to learn or take away from DUConnect?

  • A community where all stakeholders come together and brainstorm for the good of Singapore

  • A better understanding of the needs and perspectives of other stakeholders in the utility mapping ecosystem

  • Better access to information through one common platform

  • Exposure to latest and innovative technologies, solutions, and practices

  • Networking and sharing of ideas


Q3: What needs to change to establish a reliable map of subsurface utilities?

  • Mindsets; appreciation for reliable information

  • Sense of urgency; speed to implementation

  • All processes from capturing to submission, data management, sharing and application of utility information

  • Full collaboration and cooperation from all stakeholders

  • Reliable techniques and methods for data capture

  • Capacity building

  • Endorsement and funding for the adoption and application of novel techniques


The DUConnect team appreciates the suggestions provided by the participants and will use them to curate an engaging programme for the next events.


Video summary from the workshop:



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