Network March 2018

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NETWORK / 38 / MARCH 2018 T here has been much made of smart grids, smart metering, even smart planets but the latest focus is on smart infrastruc- ture. Just what is it? As with the rather nebulous smart grids before it, smart in- frastructure means di erent things to di erent people. There is the minimal- istic version of just "connected assets" right the way through to the "Internet of Everything (IoE)" or the complex systems of systems concepts of whole system design, build, maintenance and decommissioning. One thing is clear, the concept is at last a major focus of those that own or operate as- sets which are "connected" in multiple senses (digitally, electrically, gas € ows, water € ows, etc). Today, it is possible to infer the status of assets based on large numbers of independent measurements that may or may not be in the traditional business owner- ship – the IoE is providing huge quantities of data for data analytics and inferencing engines to make virtual measurements of assets from afar. New business models are being developed to provide this capability and save money for deployment of large numbers of sensors. Many states are interested in this information for nefari- ous purposes. It can be used for good and evil. So, is smart infrastructure just asset monitoring on steroids? No. The key to smart infrastructure is in the design and use of complex systems of systems analysis. No subsystem exists in a vacuum, it has a context in which it sits. The National Grid is a sub-system of the UK economy that interfaces from ‹ nancial transactions, to transport (road, rail, etc), to water distribution, to health care, to gas distribution, etc - the list is long. Yes, assets can be monitored, trended, controlled and managed in a uniquely revealing way with smart infrastructure design but it is really the way that all these assets make up the whole system that is super revealing. The robotics, drones and AI systems that will use this information to build, repair and decommission assets in the future will need di erent data to the data that humans ‹ nd interesting. We are now moving away from the old method of just automating human tasks but allowing data analytics to reveal new and interest- ing patterns to self-learning computers or droids. Smart infrastructure is the infrastructure equivalent of the smart phone bonanza of new and unbounded functionality. This is only to be expected as the connected home and the autonomous vehicle take shape and start to lead the changes that will eventually ‹ lter into the util- ity world. Policy, legislation and regulation is struggling to keep pace with these developments. Businesses that have been doing the same thing for decades are ‹ nding it a struggle to make transformational leaps in thinking let alone incremental changes to current processes. The arbitrary sub-system that is the demand side is about to become part of the very integrated smart infrastructure picture. The "below the meter" IoE will provide huge sensor information about utility infrastructure and at a fraction of the cost that can be deployed by millions of new sensors. Is there a full feedback loop? Can IoE control as well as measure? Well the automotive industry already thinks so. Humans are fast becoming the limiting factor in this emerging story. Our ability to connect humans to be the bene‹ ciaries of these new and exciting services and utilities is the key to maximising our existing asset usage. Smart infrastructure holds the secret to doing more with less. We are already witnessing this in many aspects of daily life. Once upon a time Transport for London had to manage its constraint management issues on its tube lines. Now with open data, apps like citymapper allows all its commuters to manage the constraint on their behalf. It has empowered the user to make choices. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Smart infrastructure in the utility space is only just starting to take shape, will it need a smart meter programme to implement? We can only hope not! Governance design will need to be redrawn to maximise bene‹ ts. Let's hope government is listening. "Smart infrastructure is the infrastructure equivalent of the smart phone bonanza of new and unbounded functionality." THE SMART INFRASTRUCTURE PICTURE DUNCAN BOTTING MANAGING DIRECTOR GLOBAL SMART TRANSFORMATION

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