The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLII-4/W10
12 Sep 2018
 | 12 Sep 2018


R. van Son, S. W. Jaw, J. Yan, V. Khoo, R. Loo, S. Teo, and G. Schrotter

Keywords: Underground Utility Mapping, 3D Mapping, Urban Planning, Mapping Standards and Guidelines

Abstract. To optimise the use of limited available land, land-scarce cities such as Singapore are increasingly looking towards the underground in search of more space. A good understanding of what already exists underground is essential for the planning of underground spaces. In particular, utility services make up a significant part of what exists underground. To meet planning needs, the Singapore government has initiated efforts towards bringing records of existing utility networks together in a single database and share its contents to support planning, design, and construction of underground developments. However, these records can not be relied on to support these critical processes: They are not guaranteed to represent today’s state of the underground, are not accurate or of unknown accuracy, are inconsistently modelled, and may indicate as-design information instead of as-built information. This lack of reliability leads to an increase in cost and a loss in efficiency caused by the need to repeatedly survey to locate existing utility services on-site, and can have potentially disastrous outcomes when an excavation would damage existing services. Technological advances in utility surveying and mapping devices such as Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and gyroscopic pipeline mapping devices offer the potential of accurately mapping utilities in three dimensions (3D) at a large scale and high speed. However, a better understanding of the benefits and limitations of these technologies in a practical context is needed, as well as their suitability for mapping to support applications such as urban planning and land administration. The Digital Underground project is a collaboration between Singapore-ETH Centre, Singapore Land Authority and the City of Zürich that aims to develop a roadmap towards a reliable 3D utility map of Singapore. To enable the development of utility mapping standards and guidelines, the 3D mapping workflow for underground utilities is studied extensively based on market research, literature study, and case studies. This work presents the beginnings of a framework for 3D mapping of underground utilities as one of the initial results of the Digital Underground project as it is in progress. From these experiences, it can be concluded that, together with existing data, data captured using various surveying methods can indeed contribute to the establishment and maintenance of a consolidated and reliable utility map. To this end, a multi-sensor, multi-data 3D mapping workflow is proposed to integrate data captured using different surveying techniques during different moments in the development lifecycle of utilities. Based on this framework, this work also identifies areas for improvement and critical gaps to be bridged that will ultimately form part of the roadmap.