1Geological Survey of New South Wales, Department of Regional NSW, Maitland, Australia
Geotechnical data provide information about rock/soil characterisation, strength and stability and subsurface hazard identification that is critical to infrastructure planning, design and construction, and asset protection and maintenance. These data also provide information about the volume and quality of construction materials that, when enough data is collated, can be used to assess available resources for possible extraction. Due to the vast recent and forecast increase in public construction infrastructure spending, including a New South Wales (NSW) Government commitment of $93 billion over four years to 2022–23, responsible NSW agencies that procure geotechnical services have been tasked with maintaining the integrity of their geotechnical data assets. Keeping a corporate record of geotechnical reports and re-using the information has been a key challenge for these agencies.
In January 2020, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (including the Geological Survey of NSW (GSNSW), Sydney Water and Public Works Advisory NSW) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Transport for New South Wales (comprising Sydney Metro, Sydney Trains, and Roads and Maritime Services) and the Australian Rail Track Corporation, to collaborate in the development of a whole-of-government single repository for NSW geotechnical information – the Government Geotechnical Report Database (GGRD). Presently, there are over 3450 Public Works reports available in the GSNSW’s DiGS document archive and geo-located in the online spatial viewer, MinView. Industry professionals in both the private and public sector have attested to the usefulness of the database in the initial planning stages of projects for informing desktop studies, gaining preliminary understanding of subsurface conditions and identifying potential risks while scoping geotechnical investigations, which enables a more robust estimation of project costs.
To demonstrate how the geotechnical data can be used, GSNSW is working on the construction of a 3D geotechnical model as a proof-of-concept planning tool for the Western Sydney Aerotropolis area. As well as modelling the strength of the subsurface, the project will also give insights on the extraction potential of construction resources in the area.
The GGRD will also support the ongoing digital transformation in NSW that is being applied in the creation of a NSW Spatial Digital Twin, launched by NSW Spatial Services in early 2020. The NSW Spatial Digital Twin will provide 3D and 4D digital spatial models of built and natural environments. It allows visualisation of amenities even before construction begins to enable better planning of infrastructure and communities in the state.
David Adewuyi is a Senior Geoscientist Special Projects in the Geoscience Information unit of the Geological Survey of New South Wales (GSNSW), where he manages the Government Geotechnical Reports Database (GGRD) project. The GGRD is a whole of government single repository for government procured geotechnical reports and data.