Wellington’s Council Approves Revolutionary Underground Asset Map for City Infrastructure

The City Council of Wellington, New Zealand has approved an initiative to build a digital map recording where all of the underground pipes and cables are beneath the city’s roads and walkways. The Wellington Underground Asset Map (WUAM) program is expected to revolutionize the way buried infrastructure – such as telecommunications cables, gas pipes, and other services are installed, maintained, operated and repaired.

Currently, there is no central record system for the infrastructure underneath any of the country’s streets. Data is siloed in the separate utilities companies’ databases, all of which keep data in different formats to meet their individual needs. Data must be compiled manually for each job, making it very difficult to have a thorough understanding of the assets beneath the streets. Records from older pipes and cables are often missing or incomplete.

The WUAM program has the aim of reducing disruption to the city’s streets by moving away from legacy records and outdated paper processes to a centralized, updateable, online map-based library. In the future, it could become part of a digital twin of the infrastructure under the city’s streets.

The overall goal is to build a system and supporting compliance policies for a federated data sharing platform showing subsurface infrastructure that could be scaled up for the whole of New Zealand. Similar platforms – often referred to as federated subsurface asset registers or subsurface digital twins – are already in place in England, Scotland, Singapore, and some states in the US.

“Over the next few decades, billions of dollars will be spent on infrastructure projects around the city, including water, electricity, Let’s Get Wellington Moving, cycleways and Council capital projects like the Te Matapihi Central Library and housing developments,” said Siobhan Procter, chief infrastructure officer. “We are embarking on an ambitious infrastructure construction program with 30 years of development taking place over the next decade.”