MGISS geospatial satellite

The project aims to promote the value of capturing and using accurate geospatial data. Credit: MGISS


European Space Agency backs geospatial project to protect utilities

MGISS, a UK geospatial company, aims to understand how satellite imagery can identify areas where developments could disrupt gas and water supply.

The Interruption Prevention Alert Service project will use satellite data and services to automatically detect changes to the built environment in order to prevent outages in critical utilities.

The company argued that a “robust, platform-based risk alert service” is needed to ensure disruptions are kept to a minimum, given the anticipated easing of UK planning laws as part of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

Running for an initial two years to test technical and commercial viability, half of the €1m project will be funded by the European Space Agency.

MGISS is heading up the project in collaboration with data partner Geospatial Insight, client partners Northumbrian Water Group and Northern Gas Networks and funding partners ESA and the UK Space Agency.

The launch of the pilot project follows a joint workshop with ESA at Northumbrian Water’s 2020 Innovation Festival, and two years of collaboration with NWG and NGN.

Michael Darracott, managing director at MGISS, said: “I’m looking forward to working with our partners to promote the value of capturing, using, maintaining, and leveraging accurate and reliable geospatial data.

“We already have a significant amount of interest from operators within the water and gas sectors, and we envisage wider potential in other sectors of the UK and global economies.”

‘Very real threat’

Clive Surman-Wells, innovation partnerships manager at Northumbrian Water Group, said: “Building works on or near our strategic mains pose a very real threat to the resilience of water supply to our customers.

“It’s very challenging to detect and intervene early because our network covers such a huge geographical area. The IPAS project offers an ‘eye-in-the-sky’ solution, leveraging satellite data and combining it with our own asset data records to proactively identify risks sooner.

“Our operations team at Essex and Suffolk Water will be working with MGISS and Geospatial Insight on the initial test area, and we are planning to expand the trial across all of our regions by 2024.”

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