Underground Asset Register for Wellington

We are developing a data-sharing platform for subsurface infrastructure and other important information about what is under the ground.

Underground construction taking place at a street in Wellington.

The need to update underground data

Over the next decade, investment in infrastructure worth billions of dollars is planned across the city. Much of this construction will require underground works.

Like most cities, records managed by utility providers and Council is often a far cry from the reality of infrastructure under our feet. This inflicts inefficiencies, risk, cost and delays on the city and those working on these projects, so we need to be sure of what we will find when we break ground.

Through our Road Controlling Authority and Corridor Management powers, Council owns the space beneath our transport corridors. This space carries most of the vital infrastructure that keeps our city functioning.

It holds assets owned by the Council, on behalf of Wellingtonians, as well as electricity, gas and telecommunications providers, and taonga Māori.

Improving our knowledge of Wellington’s subsurface infrastructure is an opportunity to begin a shift in efficiency for the city’s critical infrastructure, which would support the success of the city's Long-Term Plan.

A screenshot of the Underground Asset Register for Wellington interface.

Developing an online map-based library  

We are developing a data-sharing online platform for subsurface infrastructure owned by the Council and other utility operators. It will contain information found from excavation, contextual geospatial data such as contaminated sites, landslide locations, earthquake-prone buildings, and archaeological sites of significance to Māori and our city’s history. This type of system is often referred to as an underground asset register or subsurface digital twin. This initiative is primarily about improving access to underground asset data and improving its quality.

The aim is to move away from legacy records and outdated paper processes held across many locations to a federated online map-based library. Using data federation software, a copy of the latest information from each asset owner – even though they are in various formats – can be combined onto a single online data-sharing platform. We are on track to deliver the pilot version of the platform mid-2024.

We are building a system, as well as supporting compliance policies in conjunction with the sector, that could eventually be scaled up for the whole of Aotearoa.

We will work with national government, local government, utilities, and the wider sector to achieve this success.

The benefits of change

There are real benefits to establishing an underground asset data platform that everyone working in the sector can access 24/7, 365 days a year.

It brings about a major change in our understanding of the subsurface environment, and over time yields wide economic benefits in areas of growth, resilience, asset management and infrastructure programme risk. It also helps to reduce the risk of service strikes and the risk of harm to workers. 

The core economic case is focused on the benefits which accrue to project-level delivery. This means more efficient design of infrastructure, improved planning and coordination, reduction in the time required for construction, reduced risk (cost and time impacts) and contingency planning.

Input from the Technical Reference Group

A Technical Reference Group has been formed so representatives of the infrastructure sector can guide and test the register as it develops toward the goal of being the single trusted source of all underground asset information.

The group includes members of the civil contracting, utility, surveying, locating, design engineering, geographic information systems, urban development, archaeology, road construction and maintenance organisations.

Their feedback to the Wellington City team during the design and functionality stage of the underground asset register’s map is informing the beta version that will be made available as a pilot for wider use in Wellington this year. The group will help update future iterations, so we end up with the best, most accurate online register.

Contact us

If you would like to find out more about the Underground Asset Register for Wellington, please contact us.
Email: wellingtonUAR@wcc.govt.nz 

View the first edition of the Underground Asset Register newsletter.