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MapXact and Gasunie develop ground radar to prevent excavation damage

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Gasunie and MapXact have signed a cooperation agreement for the ongoing development of ground-radar technology that renders the location of underground cables and pipes visible in real time. The new technology helps to ensure the safe and undisturbed location of cables and pipelines at minimal costs and with a reduced impact on the environment.

35,000 damage incidents per year

In the Netherlands, over 1.7 million kilometres of cables and pipelines lay buried in the ground. Many of these are documented, but their exact position is not accurately recorded. This is one of the reasons why excavations, for instance for water and power installations, annually cause some 35,000 cases of damage to existing cables and pipes. Approximately every 3 minutes something goes wrong . According to the Dutch cable and pipeline alliance Kabel- en Leidingen Overleg (KLO), the direct costs amount to about EUR 25 million a year.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning

The ground radar developed by Gasunie and MapXact offers a solution to this problem. “By combining various innovations such as machine learning and augmented reality, this 3D ground-scan technology instantly gives a clear picture of what lies where under the ground,” says VolkerWessels Telecom CEO Wido van de Mast, who talks of a disruptive technology. “The clear user interface moreover ensures that anyone can easily operate the radar and interpret the results. This means improved safety not only for our employees, but also for the environment in which we work.”

Impact on the community

“For years already, Gasunie has been working in various ways on the prevention of excavation damage,” according to Gasunie CEO Han Fennema. “With this new ground-radar technology, which is so much better than what’s on the market today, we are going to take a leap forward. Our goal together with MapXact is to eliminate all excavation damage in the Netherlands. The impact for society would be tremendous. This ground radar gives us the tools with which to do it.”

Nulgraafschade.nl launched

Reducing excavation damage to practically nil will require the joint effort of all excavating stakeholders and grid operators. To this end, an online platform called nulgraafschade.nl was set up. Parties that share this ‘zero excavation damage’ ambition are called to join the platform.

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