Space agency backs Liverpool geospatial firm

Liverpool firm MGISS will help prevent disruptions to gas and water supplies across the UK as part of a €1m collaboration with the European Space Agency. Tony McDonough reports

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MGISS will utilise data from satellites to help minimise disruption to gas and water supplies


Liverpool geospatial specialist MGISS is joining forces with the European Space Agency (ESA)in a €1m project to ensure the continuity of gas and water supplies across the UK.

Gas and water outages caused by property developments are a growing problem across the country. Now MGISS will utilise satellite data along with its own technology to minimise the risks of disruption.

MGISS was launched by managing director Michael Darracott in 2014. It uses surveying and space technology to find assets such as cabling, pipework and tunnels when they are buried underground. It is based in the Baltic Triangle.

Now a new project, Interruption Prevention Alert Service (IPAS), will use satellite data and services to automatically detect changes to the built environment.

This  €1m project, supported by €500,000 of match funding from ESA, will run for an initial two years. This will allow MGISS to test its technical and commercial viability and to develop a go-to-market plan.

The Government has stated its intention to relax planning laws to allow the building of much-needed housing via the new Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

To ensure that these relaxations do not negatively impact on critical utility assets, a robust, platform-based risk alert service is required to support gas and water providers in minimising supply disruptions.

It is expected that the IPAS project will also deliver added-value outcomes to utility suppliers. These will include cost savings and a reduction in carbon emissions, supporting the development of a sustainable utility network.

MGISS is heading up the project in collaboration with data partner Geospatial Insight as well as Northumbrian Water Group and Northern Gas Networks. Funding partners are the ESA and the UK Space Agency.

This pilot project follows a joint workshop with ESA at Northumbrian Water’s 2020 Innovation Festival, and two years of collaboration with NWG and NGN.

Michael Darracott said: “I’m looking forward to working with our partners to promote the value of capturing, using, maintaining, and leveraging accurate and reliable geospatial data.

“We already have a significant amount of interest from operators within the water and gas sectors, and we envisage wider potential in other sectors of the UK and global economies.”

The IPAS project is part of a growth strategy for MGISS, enabling the creation of high-quality jobs in the North West . The project has also allowed MGISS to sponsor a PhD student at the University of Liverpool’s data science department for four years.


Michael Darracott
MGISS managing director and founder Michael Darracott


Mike Cooper, innovation and strategy manager at MGISS, added: “We’ve been successfully supporting our utility partners for several years, helping them to build richly attributed and accurate asset records.

“This solution will enable utilities providers to leverage investment in those data records, combining them with change-detection data from satellite services to enable them to avoid supply disruption via a preventative insight service.”

Clive Surman-Wells, innovation partnerships manager at Northumbrian Water Group, said building works on or near strategic mains pose a “very real threat” to the resilience of water supplies.

He explained: “It’s very challenging to detect and intervene early because our network covers such a huge geographical area.

“The IPAS project offers an ‘eye-in-the-sky’ solution, leveraging satellite data and combining it with our own asset data records to proactively identify risks sooner.”

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