Streetworks – the unwelcome face of utilities

We’ve all been there – sitting in the car or on a bus wondering why we’re stuck in an endless queue of traffic, inching along at a snail’s pace. Then the temporary lights and cones appear, along with engineers in high vis jackets. Roadworks! ‘Utilities’ are digging up the road, causing all this disruption.

The public despair at the associated inconvenience, but at the same time we expect our utilities to be available 24/7, so they are a necessary evil. As a society, we cannot function effectively without them, with the volume involved being quite significant:

  • Estimated costs of traffic delays caused by streetworks to UK plc each year = £4.3bn
  • Annual number of streetworks undertaken by utility companies each year = 1.5m

Utility companies, their contractors and service providers, are acutely aware of the disruption caused and are constantly striving to reduce the impact through the adoption of new technologies, more efficient processes and increased staff competency. Balancing all this against the backdrop of maintaining regulatory compliance and of course minimising operational and/or penalty costs, is key.

So why is this such a costly challenge for Utilities? After all, surely it’s just digging a hole, carrying out a repair or an infrastructure project and filling the hole back in again, isn’t it?

If only it were so simple. Just like the proverbial iceberg, the general public only see the tip, or in this case the size of the hole! The parts that go unseen are the myriad of preparation and planning activities that have to take place before a single cone hits the highway. Risk assessments, method statements, noticing/permitting requirements, provision/collation of utility drawings, to name but a few. Mistakes here can cause a streetworks job to go badly wrong and have consequences for brand reputation, cost and regulatory non-compliance.

The important area of preparation and planning cannot be ignored when looking to drive streetworks efficiency and productivity improvements and to help drive down cost.

At Sopra Steria we’ve developed an outsourced ‘Safe Dig’ service to help realise the benefits from these desired improvements, and have seen savings through:

  • Reduced back office costs and improved efficiency in the transactional processing
  • Fast high quality service driven by metrics
  • Scalable service with low risk transition
  • Electronic drawing files – drawings can be accessed in the office or in the field via mobile devices
  • Robust management information system and analytics support informed decision making

How do we do this? Ask me by getting in touch by email or visit Safe Dig for more information.


Published by

Matthew Weaver

Experienced utility professional, utilising my knowledge and experience around people, process and technology, to drive business analysis and transformation in all areas and aspects of utilities domain.

One thought on “Streetworks – the unwelcome face of utilities”

  1. It was called Susiephone when I used it back in the 90s, was fun driving over to ScottishPower, BT, British Gas and SRC Roads to collect plans 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.