Locating blockages in buried (telecoms) ducts – a new approach

Nicole Metje, David Chapman, Matt Stringfellow, Simina Rebegea, George Tuckwell, Matt Guy, Neil Parkin, Daniel Roberts, Chris Leach, Andrew Lord

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Buried infrastructure forms the backbone for economic stability, growth, competitiveness and productivity in modern society and is a critical element of urban environments. The pressures on our buried infrastructure will only increase as the population increases, which will drive demand and require
changes. This means that the maintenance of existing buried infrastructure, as well as building new capacity, is vital to meet demands. Currently, there is a lack of available technology to accurately locate and detect the condition of relatively shallow (up to 1 m depth) plastic ducts, supply pipes and drainage systems. As Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) is being rolled out across the UK, not accurately knowing the condition of the ducts (blocked, filled, damaged) can significantly increase the installation cost. To understand the real-world implications of the condition of the buried infrastructure, a buried ducts test facility incorporating a range of different damage types was created. Both Ground Penetrating Radar
and novel in-duct acoustics were shown to have the potential to be combined to detect different defects from partial to full blockage and multiple blockages in buried ducts, thereby allowing much better planning when installing FTTP.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Smart Infrastructure and Construction
Early online date27 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Aug 2021


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