The downside of what is hidden in the subsoil is that you cannot see it. That makes it difficult to include information about cables and pipes, for instance, or archaeological treasures or unexploded bombs that were left after the war ended, in urban development plans. The solution is an Inspiration Map of the subsoil: a digital footprint of all that is hidden underneath the city streets.
Subsoil under stress
The subscape is used for some thirty different utilities, such as gas pipes, water mains, and electricity cables, and expectations are that the pressure will only increase as the use of underground energy supply applications, such as heat and cold storage, will increase.
Below ground level
Common practice today is that the underground infrastructure is not considered in development plans until the detailed engineering phase, which means that designers risk having to go back to the drawing board when the row of trees or foundation they had planned proves to be right above cables and conduits.
Space is scarce
The municipality wants to use the Inspiration Maps for the subsoil to raise awareness about the subscape and improve efficiency in urban development operations to ensure that Rotterdam can use the scarce space, above as well as below ground level, to optimum advantage.
The art in data mining
The data used by the municipality to draw the Inspiration Maps is supplied by organizations including the Geographical Information System (GIS). The art in data mining lies in translating the data into opportunities and challenges.
The Inspiration Maps help to bring designers, structural engineers and administrators closer together, enabling them to pool resources and use a convenient model to carry out the municipal task of ensuring that public space is used to maximum efficiency.