Article Data Management

Diggs ploughs on in quest for improved data handling

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The DIGGS (Data Interchange for Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists) working group is continuing.  DIGGS is an international initiative to extend the data transfer format not only to other countries, but also to other parts of the geotechnical industry, such as piling and infrastructure management. It has been based on the AGS data format, which is the only truly international data transfer format in use. At the same time the opportunity has been taken to implement modern IT technology such as XML and GML.

DIGGS is promoted by:

  • The United States Federal Highways Administration
  • The United Kingdom Highways Agency
  • Twelve US Departments of Transport
  • The United States Geological Survey
  • The United States Army Corps of Engineers
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • CIRIA (the UK Construction Industry Research and Information Association)
  • AGS (the UK Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists)
  • COSMOS (Consortium of Organizations for Strong-Motion Observation Systems)
  • The University of Florida

Further details of DIGGS can be found at  and

DIGGS will be implemented through a group of SIGs, (Special Interest Groups) who will look after the national and disciplines within the geotechnical industry.   In the UK this will be the AGS and the next version of the AGS data format, which has the development title of “AGS4”, will be DIGGS compliant.  Work is underway to ensure that this version is thoroughly integrated with the interests of the UK Ground Industry, including the provision of specifications and contract clauses for its use.     Documentation for the users, developers and managers of companies using the format is in preparation.

Before it can be adopted, it is essential that the relevant software is available to implement this new format.  Whilst specialist software will be required to obtain maximum advantage, the fact that the format is in the universal XML language will open up the possibilities of using many other software packages directly.  This will govern the release date of the format, and it is inevitable and intentional that AGS3 will continue for some time into the future. It is intended that software to convert AGS3 files to AGS4 will be made available.

DIGGS will build on the AGS data format and be an opportunity to promote the work carried out by the Ground Investigation industry, to raise the profile of work and provide the means to streamline the work process. It provides the next steps for improved handling of data at all stages of a project from investigation through to construction and completion.  It will include geotechnical, geo-environmental, construction and asset management information within one system.



A Workshop will take place on 18 June, 2008 at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham, the spiritual home of the AGS Data Format group.  The Workshop is provisionally entitled “Site Investigation to Piling, and the availability of Electronic data”.

Papers are invited, in particular case histories are always welcome