Utility Week

UTILITY Week 6th November 2015

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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People & Opinion Utility Week community UTILITY WEEK | 6TH - 12TH NOVEMBER 2015 | 7 At a recent meeting of the Utility Week-Wipro Technology and Innovation Council, members considered the foundations of common concerns about the availability of skills for innovation in utilities. Christine Easterfield, a utilities expert at industry technology analyst Cambashi, challenged the perception that there is a looming skills gap in this area, Instead, she suggested that the skills are already embedded in the workforce, but that often business processes do not allow them to come to the fore. Other members agreed, but also felt that ideation and innovative thinking need to be developed. Some speakers at the event also showed how advances in automation and robotics could help to bridge wider skills gaps in the utilities industry and improve health and safety. Developments in robotic intelligence and movement could come to market within the decade, said attendees, which would allow robots to fulfil complex maintenance tasks accurately, and to perform difficult feats such as climbing dams or wind turbines. SKILLS Data drawn from Doing Cold Smarter, a report published by the University of Birmingham's Commission on Cold (see Nick Winser's column opposite). Man and machine 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Person cooling degree days (normalised) What if everyone consumed as much air conditioning as the US? Source: American Scientist India China Indonesia Nigeria Pakistan Bangladesh Brazil Philippines US Vietnam Thailand Mexico Myanmar Sudan Egypt Tanzania Congo Japan Colombia Malaysia Yemen Saudi Arabia Iraq Iran Ghana Control of compressors Reduce condensing pressure Defrost control Control of evaporator fans Infiltration/door protection Insulation System design Lighting New equipment Room temp settings Other controls Other refrig system issues Restoring of control settings Service/main/monitoring Expansion device Superheat control Product temperature EC fans Sub-cooling Battery charging Control of condenser fans Potential to improve the efficiency of cold stores. Source: LSBU Jacob Tomkins writes the first in a new series of innovation columns for Utility Week. A presumption of open data would help drive inno- vation in the UK water industry. OK, given the recent events at Talk Talk and British Gas this is probably the worst possible time to write a piece calling for open data in the water sector, but here goes. From the Alhambra Caliphate to the coffee houses of Georgian London to the Internet of Things, open societies where ideas and data flow freely have gener- ated innovation and created wealth. There are very few examples where secrecy and protectionism have done the same. There may be some short term gain in keeping others out, but it doesn't last. The UK water sector holds around 1 per cent of all data in Europe. Hidden within this dataset are trends, patterns and anomalies that could provide solutions to many of the challenges faced by water companies, from systems optimisation to understanding customer behaviour and much more. The problem is that compa- nies have big data, not smart data, and no matter how good their analysts are they can't possibly retrieve all the needles from the haystack. But there are hundreds of data analysts, NGOs and bearded hipsters from Korea to Guatemala who would love to analyse these datasets for free and could provide solutions for next to nothing: opening up gives access to a global analytical resource and to crowd-sourced solutions. All this sounds a bit academic but the recent Open Data Institute (ODI) hackathon in Leeds used Yorkshire Water's data and developed a range of new ideas and solutions. Similar initiatives are planned by ODI, British Water, Waterwise and others. Likewise a number of the European ICT4Water initiatives are looking at creat- ing open data platforms around water with the aim of democratising water and encouraging wide scale public engagement and participation in water issues. Clearly there are concerns about commercial confi- dentiality and data protection, but there are protocols for all of these, and other sectors have achieved both open data and increased security. In fact, having a presumption of open data should lead to a greater focus on protecting core data and adopting common cyber security standards across the sector. The Water Sector Strategic Dashboard, which will present high level data for the companies, is an excellent start, but why not go further and make everything available? Jacob Tompkins, managing director, Waterwise The presumption should be that data is open Eureka Jacob Tompkins

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