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Ordnance Survey helps Southern Water prepare for its most detailed geographic data


Southern Water is now set to use OS MasterMap data following a company-wide upgrade of its location data and geographical information system (GIS).

The upgrade to a full corporate GIS using a single repository of spatial data has allowed Southern Water to take maximum advantage of Ordnance Survey’s range of flagship mapping data. To ensure that the upgrade delivered the maximum benefit, the company undertook a major exercise to improve the quality and accuracy of its own geographical data based on the Ordnance Survey Positional accuracy improvement (PAI) programme.

The programme has given Southern Water, which provides water and sewage services to 4 million people, enhanced and more consistent accuracy in the mapping of rural areas while improving the relationship between Ordnance Survey 1:2500 scale map data and Southern Water’s own GPS-positioned information.

Marc Hobell, Ordnance Survey’s Strategic Development Manager for the utilities sector feels OS MasterMap data can have long lasting benefits for Southern Water. “We’ve been very happy to work closely with Southern Water to help them through the PAI process. By upgrading from Land-Line to OS MasterMap Topography layer and taking on OS MasterMap ITN Layer Southern Water will be able to take advantage of the next generation of digital map data to support their asset and resource management.”

The company has more than 13,000 kilometres of water mains stretching from Kent to the Isle of Wight, so maintaining the currency of its geographic data is very important. By undertaking the PAI programme, Southern Water completed a full audit and cleaning of its data. Peter Brown, Southern Water GIS Corporate Upgrade Project Manager, explains: “What underpinned our direction and strategy was the concept of a single spatial data repository with the appropriate applications all using the same data and one single view of our asset infrastructure.”

Ordnance Survey’s PAI programme has developed to enable the capture of 1:2500 scale data to a greater absolute accuracy than ever before, resulting in enhanced and more consistent precision in the mapping of rural areas. Improving the positional accuracy of Southern Water’s data collected against pre-PAI mapping required using Ordnance Survey-supplied vectors, which indicate the direction and extent to which each entity must be shifted to be correctly aligned.

Mark Bell is Business Analyst for the PAI project at Southern Water. He says, “Our approach enabled us to implement PAI with maximum integrity while it has saved money. We had a highly productive team and the capability of the software exceeded our expectations. Ordnance Survey was very supportive and their consultancy team was particularly useful.”

With the completion of its PAI project, Southern Water will switch from Land-Line to OS MasterMap Topography Layer, with subsequent adoption of OS MasterMap Address Layer and Integrated Transport Network (ITN) Layer. Mark points out, “By switching fully to OS MasterMap we know we are future-proofing our corporate data and we believe we will be the first combined water and sewage utility company to be using OS MasterMap and post-PAI assets in a corporate GIS environment”.


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