Site Investigation News July 2010

Please note that the following news item is an archived article. Therefore any links and information may now be out of date.


Hello and welcome to the July edition of Site Investigation News – Keynetix’s Monthly Newsletter.

We have had an exciting time at Keynetix Towers since publishing our last newsletter in June. Much of that time was spent perfecting KeyLogbook for its public debut at Geotechnica 2010, about which more can be found below.

Our hard work has continued onto the next phase of the Highways Agency Geotechnical and Drainage Asset Management Systems (HAGDMS/HADDMS), which we run in a joint venture with Mott MacDonald. HAGDMS and HADDMS are extraordinary systems about which little has been published in the public domain. They are by far the largest systems that we work on here at Keynetix and we are keen for more to be known about them. We start this process further on in the Newsletter with an article by Jim Slater who is the Project Team Leader.

Jim was especially busy this month as his Manager, Carl Grice, was away on honeymoon following his recent marriage to Danielle. I’m please to report that the wedding went really well and I include a photo below, as it features that rarest of sights- Keynetix staff looking smartly dressed…

From left to right: Jim Slater, Gary Morin, Carl Grice, Graham Ward, Roger Chandler and Chris Bray

Hearty congratulations to Carl and Danielle and very best wishes to them for a happy and healthy future.

I very much hope you enjoy this edition of Site Investigation News and welcome your feedback and comments.

Fionn Wardrop
Editor – Site Investigation News
01527 68888


National Asset Management – Helping The Highways Agency

In this article Keynetix Technical Team Leader, James Slater, outlines the scale and challenges presented by our Highways Agency data management systems (HAGDMS and HADDMS) which we run in a joint venture with Mott MacDonald.

My name is James (Jimbo) Slater and I am a technical team leader at Keynetix ,currently undertaking development of the next phase of the Highways Agency Geotechnical and Drainage Asset Management Systems (HAGDMS / HADDMS).

This project is a joint venture with Mott MacDonald to build, maintain and update a web based GIS application used by over 1200 users including numerous asset and data managers, asset owners and many experts from the Geotechnical and Drainage worlds. Over 250 offices have access to HAGDMS and HADDMS including managing agents, international design and construction consultants, contractors and a number of regional HA offices.

The system is securely accessed by users live over the Internet. At my last count the system held over 50,000 geotechnical assets with at least 400,000 geotechnical Observations and in excess of 1,000,000 drainage assets and rising fast! The majority of assets are also linked to supplementary data held on the system such as attached documents including photos, PDFS, AGS Data, Scanned Reports and Digitised Drawings.

At the heart of the system is Autodesk Mapguide, a web based mapping engine which provides an interactive and visual display of all the spatial data along with masses of other reference and background mapping datasets from the Highways Agency, British Geological Society (BGS) and Environment Agency (EA).

We are currently working with over 150 Gigabytes of raster data including national coverage aerial photography and scanned and geo-referenced drawings. There is also over 50 Gigabytes of vector data including the OS MasterMap Topo Layer, ITN Roads, BGS 1-50k Geology mapping, detailed river network models, Contours and Digital Terrain Models. Mapping data also includes the geometry for over 2 million located vector assets!

Recent areas of work on the system include automated drainage asset reports measuring progress for data population and quality against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) set by the HA. There has been the addition of a national flooding register, which allows users to record and digitise flood events online and also the latest addition of flooding hotspots on the network (in other words high risk areas that may be prone to flooding). Also along a similar theme, one of my favourite parts of the system is the drainage spill modeller. This allows a user to visualise (on a map) the flow of a spill on the road network and how it flows through the various drainage assets (pipes etc) to the outfalls.

One of the main development aims for the team is to provide users with tools to help improve the coverage, population, quality and accuracy of asset location and asset condition data, to aid the ongoing management of the HA network. This is done in many ways including advanced reporting tools, dynamic mapping displays, asset scoring and grading systems, data validation and checking routines, advanced querying and much more.

This is a demanding but rewarding project to work on, with tight deadlines and challenging quality assurance procedures. But there are also some nice juicy problems to solve which (can be) great fun, and the team here and at Mott McDonald work really well together to deliver more and more innovative solutions.

If you would like help with your data management, whatever the size of your project, please contact Fionn Wardrop on                01527 68888           01527 68888  or at:


In addition to hair loss, my broad mind and narrow waist swapping places, and the desire to have a nap in the afternoon the aging process finds me in ruminative mood.  Having been with Keynetix (or Key Systems Geotechnical as it was back then) for nearly seven years, and involved in data management for a considerably longer period, I find myself reflecting that it simply “wasn’t like that in my day”.

Since joining the company the support services we offer have changed beyond recognition.  The team has expanded the number of personnel, refined working practices and levered benefit from remote technology.  GoToMeeting has been a valuable tool in our box for some time now, so much so it would be difficult to imagine life without it.  We pay a licence to use this software to connect to the computers of willing users, investigate further, and provide both solutions and guidance.  Personally, I’ve always been satisfied with the manner in which security is handled – meetings can only ever happen by mutual consent, IT departments permitting.  The display of your screen or control of your keyboard/mouse only occurs when you tell GoToMeeting to do so.  Further, simply moving the mouse will snatch control away from us should you have data protection concerns.

Of course, GoToMeeting is not right for every situation.  There are occasions when local IT policies prevent such connections and clearly we must respect this.  Upon negotiation, some IT departments are willing to compromise and allow view-only meetings (i.e., a GoToMeeting session where users do not click the button to provide us with keyboard and mouse control).  There do remain occasions where remote meetings are not practical due to a lack of sufficient internet connection, although these situations are rare these days.  Finally, there are occasions where the support team needs to gather resources (data, templates, relevant system files, etc.) and then start a lengthy process of investigation.  Under such circumstances, it may be more appropriate to move away from the remote session and reconstruct the problem on our own machines.  This allows us to tweak any system variables in a controlled manner and allows you to get on with your job in the meantime.

More recently we have used GoToWebinar (GoToMeeting’s big brother) to run online presentations to our users. Discussions thus far have addressed areas of interest such as data management, conceptual site modelling and open source information, with more webinars planned for later in the year.  We have also have been able to use the technology to offer online training services (click here to find out more).

In summary, GoToMeeting has been a great success.  The support staff are able to clarify the nature of issues and often provide immediate solutions, these clearly benefitting users too.  It’s a far cry from the bad-old-days of a telephone and your own computer screen (and occasionally just the former!).  And so I mutter “kids these days don’t know they’re born” as I discretely grab forty winks, a modest preparation for my approaching midlife-crisis.

Phil Child
Training and Support Manager
01527 68888



Keynetix Training Course Schedule

There is one more training course with spaces left in July and details can be found below. We take a break from training in August, but resume at high pace in September with a whole host of training coming up.

Most popular courses look set to be Roger Chandler’s Excel Masterclass on the 21st of September and his introduction to the AGS data format on the 22nd.

All of the September courses are currently eligible for ‘early bird’ discounts, so if you are interested in signing up use the click through links below to register  your attendance.

Course Dates:

27th July
AutoCAD Map: Geospatial (2 days)

1st September
GO-DM1: SI Reporting Using the Geotechnical Office

2nd September
GO-DM2: Customising the Geotechnical Office

7th September



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