Continuing densification in cities also affects the underground. Developing digital twins and applying geoinformation technology will be essential for planning, developing, and managing the underground. This comes with a variety of significant challenges, such as assuring the availability of spatio-temporal data of sufficient quality, clearly defined and accessible interfaces, and reliable workflows, which include all stakeholders.
The one-day workshop “Digital Underground CH” took place at ETH Zürich on September 6th, 2022. It was organized by Prof. Martin Raubal and Prof. Andreas Wieser, and brought together experts, stakeholders and interested parties from Switzerland and abroad. The workshop aimed at identifying the needs and required actions for establishing the digital underground of Switzerland, as well as discussing the necessary frameworks and technological solutions.
The workshop started with a keynote presentation by Chris Chambers and Amy Manefield, who presented experiences from the already implemented and running National Underground Asset Register (NUAR) in the UK. Following, Rasmus Johansen demonstrated how 3D Reality Capture had been utilized for as-built subsurface utilities in Denmark.
In the second session, the participants were provided with overviews of Singapore’s Digital Underground experience (Martin Raubal), the Digital Twin of the City of Zurich and how it is applied to urban planning (Gerhard Schrotter), as well as necessary transformations of infrastructure documentation (Markus Schenardi).
The third presentation block focused on legal aspects, discussing open government data and utility cadastral systems (Christian Kaul), a demonstration of utilizing digital underground data as a resource for planning utilities in urban areas (Joram Schito), and innovative technologies for the underground from a company’s perspective (Risto Doncev). Overall, the presentations clearly documented that implementing a digital underground system is a multi-disciplinary endeavor, integrating technological, legal, business and human aspects.
The final part of the workshop consisted of group discussions, addressing the question ‘What will Switzerland need in terms of Digital Underground within the next 10 to 15 years, and how can we get there?’ Presentations by the group leaders confirmed the complexity of establishing Digital Underground Switzerland. It was deemed necessary to start with the identification of concrete use cases and problems to be solved with such system. One particular challenge will be the centralized definition of rules, considering the Swiss federalism. With this comes the question of who should be leading Digital Underground, an existing governmental entity, such as Swisstopo or ARE, or a newly established one? Further discussion points related to the integration of GIS and BIM, the integration of new data with legacy data, interoperability aspects, data security and questions regarding ownership of data. Finally, the presenters highlighted that awareness of the need of a Digital Underground system for Switzerland must be raised within politics to gain the necessary support.
The organizers thank all speakers and participants for their excellent contributions and SOGI for sponsoring this successful event.