Anglian Water’s Strategic Pipeline Alliance (SPA) – the use of GIS in the Common Data Environment for the Digital Twin

Digital Twin Hub > Articles & Publications > Anglian Water’s Strategic Pipeline Alliance (SPA) – the use of GIS in the Common Data Environment for the Digital Twin


The Strategic Pipeline Alliance (SPA) was established to deliver a major part of Anglian Water’s ‘Water Resources Management Plan’ to safeguard against the potential future impacts of water scarcity, climate change and growth, whilst protecting and enhancing the environment. The SPA was established to deliver up to 500km of large diameter interconnecting transmission pipelines, associated assets and a Digital Twin.  

Digital transformation was identified early in the programme as a core foundational requirement for the alliance to run its ‘business’ effectively and efficiently. It will take Anglian Water through a digital transformation in the creation of a smart water system, using a geospatial information system as a core component of the common data environment (CDE), enabling collaboration and visualisation in this Project 13 Enterprise. 


Digital Transformation 

Our geospatial information system (GIS) described is just one part of a wider digital transformation approach that SPA has been developing and is a step change in the way that Anglian Water uses spatial data to collaborate and make key decisions, with net savings of £1m identified.  

When the newly formed SPA went from an office-based organisation to a home-based organisation overnight due to COVID19, standing up an effective central GIS system was critical to maintain the ability to work efficiently, by providing a common window to the complex data environment to all users. With 500km of land parcels and around 5000 stakeholders to liaise with, the GIS system provided the central data repository as well as landowner and stakeholder relationship management. The mobile device applications, land management system, ground investigation solution and ecology mapping processes all enabled SPA to hit its key consenting and EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) application dates.   

We got the Alliance in place and fully operative within six months and the SPA GIS has helped fast-track a key SPA goal of increasing automation throughout the project lifecycle; automation tools such as FME (Feature Manipulation Engine), Python and Model Builder have been widely adopted, driving efficiencies.   

The SPA GIS analyses and visually displays geographically referenced information. It uses data that is attached to a unique location and enables users to collaborate and visualise near real time information. Digital optimisation will provide enormous value and efficiencies in engineering, production, and operational costs of the smart water system. Having a single repository of up-to-date core project geospatial deliverables and information has reduced risk and enabled domain experts and our supply chain to interact with data efficiently.  


Enterprise Architecture 

Spending quality time up front in developing an enterprise architecture and data model allowed us to develop a CDE based around GIS. A cost model was approved for the full five years, and the platform was successfully rolled out. 

The Enterprise Architecture model was created in a repository linked to Anglian Water’s enterprise. This included mapping out the technology and data integration requirements, as well as the full end-to-end business processes. The result was a consistent, interoperable solution stack that could be used by all alliance partners, avoiding costly duplication. GIS was identified as a key method of integrating data from a wide range of different sources, helping to improve access across the alliance to single version of the truth and improving confidence in data quality. In addition, a fully attributed spatial data model was developed representing the physical assets. This will help support future operations and maintenance use cases that monitor asset performance. 



The use of our GIS system is enabling SPA to meet its obligations around planning applications and obtaining landowner consent to survey, inspect and construct the strategic pipeline. Hundreds of Gb of data had to be collected, analysed, and managed to create our submissions.  

The SPA GIS provides secure, consistent, and rapid access to large volumes of geospatial data in a single repository. Using a common ‘web-centric’ application, the solution enables teams to cooperate on location-based data, ensuring its 700+ users can access current and accurate information. The intuitive interface, combined with unlimited user access, has enabled the Alliance to rapidly scale without restriction.  We have also enabled the functionality for desktop software (ESRI ArcPro, QGIS, FME, AutoDesk CAD and Civil3D) to connect to the geodatabase to allow specialist users to work with the data in the managed, controlled environment, including our supply chain partners. 

The integration of SPA Land Management and SPA GIS in one platform has brought advantages to stakeholder relationship management by enabling engagement to be reviewed spatially.  

SPA’s integrated geospatial digital system has been the go-to resource for the diverse and complex teams. The use of our GIS system has been used to extensively engage with the wider Anglian Water operational teams, enabling greater collaboration and understanding of the complex system. The GIS system has, in part, enabled SPA to remove the need to construct over 100km of pipeline, instead re-using existing assets that have been identified in the GIS solution, contributing to the 63% reduction in forecast capital carbon, compared to the baseline.  

The SPA Land Management solution incorporates four core areas: land ownership, land access survey management and stakeholder relationship management (developed by SPA) which puts stakeholder and customer engagement at its heart. With 300 unique land access users, traditionally, these areas would be looked after by separate teams, with separate systems which struggle to share data. With the digital tool, land and engagement data can be shared across SPA, creating a single source of truth, mitigating risk across the whole infrastructure programme. This has benefitted our customers, as engagement with them is managed much more effectively. Our customer sentiment surveys show 98% are satisfied with how we are communicating with them.  

The Enterprise Architecture solution allows for capabilities to be transferred into Anglian Water’s enterprise, and there has been careful consideration around ensuring the value of data collected during the project is retained. SPA is developing blueprints as part of the outputs to enable future Alliances to align with best practices, data, cyber and technology policies. SPA is also focussing on developing the cultural and behavioural aspects with Anglian Water to enable Anglian to be able to accept the technological changes as part of this digital transformation. This is a substantial benefit and enables Anglian Water to continue to work towards its operator of the future ambitions, where digital technologies and human interfaces will delivery higher levels of operational excellence.  

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