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Digitalisation Action Plan

Introduction

Digitalisation of the energy system is at the heart of our transition to deliver a smart and flexible energy system supporting the UK’s clear commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

This is leading to unprecedented changes in the way customers use and generate energy. We operate the network for our customers, so it is essential we respond to their changing use of the network and adapt our operations to continue to deliver excellent customer service, reliability, and value for money. We have set out our long term ambitions as part of our digitalisation strategy; describing how we plan to continue our digitalisation journey and deliver new and improved solutions and data access internally and externally for our customers and stakeholders.

This Action Plan focusses on our planned activity throughout RIIO ED-1 to deliver our digitalisation strategy and measuring progress against our long-term roadmap to enable us to continue our ambitious activity in to RIIO ED-2 and beyond.

How we approach digitalisation delivery, ensuring it meets ours and our stakeholders needs, how we will regularly communicate our activity and ensure we continue regular and relevant engagement is core to our digitalisation strategy and is demonstrated throughout this Action Plan. We will provide a detailed update of the Action Plan at least every six months; we also know that many people want and expect more frequent updates as to the progress against our delivery plan and specific projects, therefore, we’ve made this available and interactive online.

Now you can view our delivery plan online here, see the progress against key milestones, get updates from the team through blogs and videos, feedback on progress and input through formal consultations but more frequently through quick and engaging surveys as well as links to direct output from each and all activity we are excited about delivering this action plan more collaboratively than ever before.

Our action plan continues to focus on implementing revolutionary change to deliver for our key four drivers, customers, our employees, infrastructure and ensuring our system is smart and flexible. The high level outputs within our roadmap demonstrate this revolutionary and step change approach to delivering our digitalisation strategy; setting the foundations for tangible and valuable outcomes for all our current and future data and system users.

Our ambitious action plan outcomes will mean that we not only deliver but exceed the need and expectations of our stakeholders, ensuring we play our part in delivering the energy revolution!

Interactive Action Plan

Our Action Plan does and will continue to contain the current projects identified and being delivered as part of our digitalisation programme. This provides an overview for customers and stakeholders to understand the developments in progress and the outputs that they can expect and when. The longer-term view can be seen in the Roadmap as part of our Digitalisation Strategy.

For each project a description of the activity is given, providing an overview of what the project will do. The drivers behind the project will be summarised, detailing the rationale and reason being the project and the benefits will also be described.

We are committed to delivering a balanced digitalisation programme and are using a number of key metrics to support and measure this.

Using the three underpinning elements of our Digitalisation Strategy, each activity within the Action Plan is characterised against at least one of these:

  • Improved data management;
  • Increased network insight and operation;
  • Delivering for stakeholders.

To further ensure we have a balanced programme we also capture which of the five key recommendations from the Energy Data Taskforce report a project aligns and supports our progress in delivering against.

We also identify, where applicable, what internal and external user types the activity is most likely to benefit.

These metrics will provide useful insight to inform our continuing digitalisation programme and ensure it remains balanced, however, we understand that a greater focus in some areas will be required throughout the delivery of our digitalisation roadmap.

Importantly each project has one of our team assigned so if you’d like to know anything more about the projects or feel you’d be the right person or organisation to support they’d love to hear from you.

 

Progress since previous Action Plan 

We released our first formal Digitalisation Action Plan in late 2020 with a number of key actions and this section provides a brief update on the progress and outputs that have been realised to this point.

Integrated Network Model

Description

The INM creates a complete, single source of the truth, electrical network model through the utilisation of data from our network management system (NMS), geographic information system (GIS) and our enterprise asset management (EAM) solution.

The INM enables this previously disparate data to be connected providing an improved understanding of assets and their connectivity. Key asset and network information is extracted from these three primary data repositories and the INM, through a series of matching rules, identifies both direct and indirect links between assets to provide a single version of the truth. The INM also captures and collates the assets and related information that has not been matched, i.e. where an asset exists in one system but not in another for instance; this enables a foundation for data improvement to take place.

The INM data is stored as a relational database and is managed by a Data Steward and accessed by Data Users. Common Information Model (CIM) format files are also generated, which are to be shared openly providing the asset information and connectivity from the 132kV to the 11kV network inclusive in a standardised and interoperable format.

Progress and output

Our first phase INM development is now complete, providing a single conical model of our 11kV and above network. This is now being used internally to enable wider asset data improvement (described further below) and importantly the CIM files are being used to improve the automation of our network planning activity (11kV Planner Tool described below) as well as regularly sharing our latest network asset and connectivity data in an open, standardised and interoperable format:

http://www.westernpower.co.uk/our-network/energy-data-hub/common-information-model

Our work is continuing in INM and in this Action Plan projects 2.8 – 11kV Planner Tool Data Integration and 3.3 CIM expansion further discuss how it will be developed and utilised to ensure the most granular and standardised data is routinely provided both internally and externally to optimise design and operation performance.

As part of this activity we have developed a standardised data triage approach and captured this within our evolving Data Triage Playbook. 

Data Triage Process

Description

We have a significant number of datasets that are public and available through our Energy Data Hub and other.

A number of these datasets have been created through a specific need and request, however a greater number were datasets that existed and have now been made public to support customers and stakeholders meet their needs.

Establishing a consistent data triage process will ensure that we presume all data to be open. This provides a robust process to asses a dataset available internally as to where it can be made public and how that can be managed.

The process will ensure that there is a process and methodology to promote data sharing, how to redact data this is restricting the data being made open whilst preserving its value and benefit.

Importantly we will share which data we have triaged but are unable to share and for what reason.

Progress and output

As part of this activity we have developed a standardised data triage approach and captured this within our evolving Data Triage Playbook.

High Level Data Triage Process

Flow chart showing high level data triage process

We now use this for each of our internal and external data requests as well as using this to develop the Energy Networks Association (ENA) draft Data Triage Playbook to support the now live ENA Data Request Tool. 

Our Data Triage Playbook will continue to evolve and mature as will our data request and delivery function. In this Action Plan this can be seen through the development of an internal and external Data Request Service Desk, projects 1.6 and 2.6.

Data Governance

Description

Robust Data Governance is required as a foundation for our digitalisation and data activity, ensuring that it is developed and implemented consistently throughout the business.

Our Data Governance is focussed on the development and utilisation of people, process and technology to leverage data as a valuable asset, enabled through appropriate data ownership, accessibility, security, quality and knowledge.

The development, delivery and implementation of these key aspects will be managed centrally and as such the Data Governance will span our complete business to ensure a uniformed and strategic approach. Key elements within our Data Governance are:

  • Prioritising areas for business improvement;
  • Maximising availability of information assets;
  • Creating roles, responsibilities, and rules;
  • Ensuring and improving information asset integrity;
  • Establishing and maintaining an accountability infrastructure;
  • Converting to a master data-based system;
  • Developing a feedback mechanism for process improvement.

Our approach to Data Governance will be open and evolutionary, updating and amending as required to be suit the needs of our business, customers and stakeholders.

Progress and Output

The development of our business-wide Data Governance has now been implemented and has served to create a greater focus on data internally, understanding of our current and future development requirements and how the effective use of people, process and technology can support our continuing digitalisation journey.

WPD Data Governance Model

 

Data governance breakdown model 

We have ensured we have some clear priorities in each of the three areas to support successfully achieving our future requirements. These priorities are focussed on transitioning from our current ‘as is’ to the ‘to be’ position illustrated in our Maturity Model.

People

All datasets shared externally shall be classified utilising the ODI’s Data Spectrum, where the process of classification is documented within a data classification and triage policy and standard technique;

A metadata and data dictionary policy and standard to standardise how the internally and externally shared data is to be described, levering the Dublin Core metadata standard; this is a key input to facilitate the implementation of an internal Data Catalogue;

Mapping of key asset data to support master data management and flows, identifying the master system of information and building of direct master data system links to improve the single source of truth datasets.

Process 

All datasets shared externally shall be classified utilising the ODI’s Data Spectrum, where the process of classification is documented within a data classification and triage policy and standard technique;

A metadata and data dictionary policy and standard to standardise how the internally and externally shared data is to be described, levering the Dublin Core metadata standard; this is a key input to facilitate the implementation of an internal Data Catalogue;

Mapping of key asset data to support master data management and flows, identifying the master system of information and building of direct master data system links to improve the single source of truth datasets.

Technology

Specification and implementation of an internal Data Catalogue to deliver trusted and described data in a centralised repository to widen access of data internally;

Implementation of a self-serve BI and analytics tool to enable business wide visibility of data by specific metrics and KPIs;

Development and use of ML techniques to undertake asset data quality improvements, leveraging data quality reporting from the Data Catalogue. 

WPD Data Maturity Model

Table show levels of data maturity

11kV Planning Tool

Description

A new 11kV Planning Tool will be implemented, supporting the appropriate and effective design of a changing 11kV network.

This new solution will replace a legacy tool, over 10 years old, enabling advanced modelling and design techniques to be employed, such as time series modelling and active network management scheme development.

It will enable new standards of data to be used, such as CIM, rather than bespoke network models creating interoperability between systems.

Progress and Output 

We have now implemented Siemen’s PSSE SINCAL solution for the design and planning of our 11kV network. The implementation and use of a leading, internationally used, tool ensures that ours and our customers’ current and future needs of the network can be effectively planned.

Our next focus will be the wider automation of networks models, utilising our CIM data, further increasing the operation of our 11kV planning and network design functionality providing increased standardised approaches and outcomes (Project 2.8).

Data Catalogue 

Description

A Data Catalogue provides centralised data access for a wide variety of data, technical, asset focussed, regulatory and other.

It also enables a standardised approach to metadata (the data used to describe the data) and to employ data management.

This will provide greater data visibility and insight without the need for individuals to separately interrogate data to drive useful insight through the identification and use of metadata.

Progress and Output

Key for the value of this activity was the implementation of an internal and external Data Catalogue.

External Data Catalogue

We became the first Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to implement a standardised Data Catalogue, based on CKAN, the world’s leading open source data management system: Connected Data Portal

So far we have released 46 Open datasets, which is well over 100 data resources, each of which come with standardised metadata (based on the Dublin Core standard) and associated data dictionary.

We continue to actively triage our datasets to understand whether they are Open, Public, Shared or Closed. As we move forwards we are now expanding Connected Data Portal to include data beyond that triaged as Open, included Public and Shared using registration and access control functionality.

Internal Data Catalogue

Following a full procurement exercise we have now implemented IBM’s Watson Knowledge Catalog. Utilising an advanced Data Catalogue solution, connected to our master data management solutions (moving towards a Data Warehouse – Project 3.10), we are now able to more accessibly give our employees visibility to the data available within the organisation, its quality and completeness. This also means that we can more effectively target prioritised datasets, based on access, for improvement as required.

Our volume of accessible data through the catalogue will increase, using our regular and relevant internal stakeholder engagement and guided by external engagement to deliver best value to our customers.

Real-time Power Flow Data Access

Description

Understanding what is happening on our network is key to how we operate our network and we recognise that access to this data is increasingly important to our customers and stakeholders.

Real-time data access will provide, for each of our four licence areas and a total of the demand, generation and import currently on the network.

This data will be provided in our Energy Data Hub with access to historic data for interested users to view and export to inform their activities.

Generation detail will be split by key generation types, such as solar and wind to provide an understanding of the make up on our network in real-time.

Progress and Output

We have now made our Licence Area real-time, demand, import and generation in a highly accessible and visible way through our Map and Application Viewer. This enables you to either access a headline level viewer or access specific data in graph format also available for download for offline use.

Real-time Power Flow Data Access 

Example of real time data map

Real-time Data Viewer

Example of real time data viewer

As well as these highly interactive mechanisms, through the Connected Data Portal the real-time data is available via Application Programming Interface (API) - Live Data - Dataset - Western Power Distribution’s BETA Connected Data Portal.

The next phase of work will be to increase the level of granularity of the real-time data down to Grid and Bulk Supply Point (Project 4.3).

Asset Data Quality Improvements

Description

We have a number of legacy systems and applications to store and capture data and this project will centralise and improve the quality of data stored for our assets.

This will involve combining disparate datasets, identify data gaps and employ manual or machine learning approaches to improving the quality of the data.

This work will focus on our network assets initially, switchgear, transformers, cables and conductor and associated ancillary equipment.

Progress and Output

Through our INM development and the greater centralisation of data activities within our new Data & Digitalisation department we have integrated over 500,000 data points in to our EAM system from previous Shadow-IT systems.

We will continue to improve and increase the data within our EAM from Shadow-IT systems but also expand this to a number of further master data management systems within the organisation. This activity is fundamental to a large number of our projects in the Action Plan and therefore is no longer explicit as its own action.

Programme Delivery and Governance

Methodology

Digitalisation is and will continue to involve and impact our complete business, our interactions with customers and stakeholders and the services we offer them and them us. The developments we’re employing are revolutionary and wide ranging and we need to continually drive value and improvements. It’s critical that we take an active and agile approach to delivery, development and improvement. We want to deliver value as quickly and effectively as possible, providing output and benefit as soon as it’s available, take feedback from the users’ experience, iterate, develop and improve. Adopting an agile delivery model will make this possible. We have aligned and integrated our digitalisation delivery approach to that used within our Information Technology (IT) function, taking advantage of their existing systems, tool and processes. We have implemented a web-based development management tool. This has enabled us to adopt a Kanban approach[1] to project development, allowing everyone to visualise work activity, giving a view of the progress and process from start to finish. This also means that we have a central and open repository for issue-tracking and pipelines for continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD).

Governance

Effective project governance is critical to all projects, ensuring that the accountabilities and responsibilities are understood, providing a decision making framework that is clear, appropriate and repeatable to enable a well-structured and delivered digitalisation programme.

We have a well-established business change governance process, developed as part of our long running innovation programme and we are utilising this to support our digitalisation project governance.

Structure

Our governance structure is driven by our Digitalisation and Data Governance Group approving the Digitalisation Strategy and Roadmap. For each of our projects there will be a Steering Group, made up of relevant people from within the business, where their current processes will be changed as part of implementing the project’s solution, or are key to enabling the development and implementation. Where a project is driving direct external value and benefit the Steering Group will also have appropriate representation from a user representative; this could be a community energy group, another utility provider or an energy aggregator as examples. A Steering Group will be typically made up of the Project Sponsor, the likely owner of solution on implementation, Senior Users, to inform the approach and output and Suppliers, providing key inputs to support the development. The Project Sponsor, although part of the Steering Group will also have their own explicit role to ensure that the vision and the benefits of the project are delivered. Importantly each development will have a specific Project Manager to ensure that the planning, design and delivery of each project is provided to time, cost and quality. Overarching is the programme management, governing the projects as part of the action plan and the wider roadmap activity, ensuring decisions at each level can be appropriately made through agreed tolerances and exception reporting.

Agile Delivery Approach

Outline to show agile delivery approach

Digitalisation Delivery Governance Hierarchy 

Chart that shows programme management breakdown

Project set-up

Each new digitalisation project has to follow a defined registration process in order to get approval to proceed to the delivery stage of the project. The project approval focusses on producing a Project Initiation Document (PID), outlining the project scope, the business case, aims and benefits and the key outputs and milestones. It also includes a high level project delivery outline, a list of project resource requirements, finance detail, key risks, assumptions and dependencies. The PID is developed by the Project or Programme Manager, reviewed and supported by the Project Sponsor and approved by the Steering Group or Governance Group dependant on project value. This provides a clear capture to measure delivery performance and success at the end of the project effectively.

Project delivery

The Project Manager takes responsibility for the day to day delivery of the project using a standard set of tools to manage deliverables, risks, issues, assumptions and dependencies. Reporting is described in the Digitalisation Delivery Governance Hierarchy, ensuring that the right level of oversight and visibility of the project and its progress against the PID deliverables. Appropriate tolerances for time, cost and quality are set for each reporting level, enabling effective delivery to be achieved whilst ensuring appropriate bounds are set to ensure the original aims of the project are delivered.

Measuring success

We know that it’s really important that our Digitalisation Strategy and Action Plan progress is effectively tracked and measured to ensuring we are delivering benefits for all. We have developed a number of areas where we will measure success where internal and external engagement and feedback on progress to data to shape our future roadmaps and delivery will be vital. So, as we everything we do we’d love you to get in touch about any of the projects, potential projects or any data or digitalisation initiatives.

Understanding our employees' and customers' needs

Continuing to demonstrate valuable and beneficial engagement through the continued refinement and development of our data user personas. We will clearly highlight our areas of development against these user personas to track progress and output for the variety of data users to ensure a balanced approach is taken and validate our deliverables.

Improving data quality

The ability to trust data is the basis for the business to transform in to a data centric organisation that make decisions based on information from many different data sources rather than historical knowledge. We will demonstrate this greater engagement, interaction and utilisation of data internally and externally to greater impact within the energy sector and beyond.

Industry leading data and digitalisation strategy and action plan

Ensuring we have an industry leading strategy and action plan is key to delivering for our customers and stakeholders. We will use maturity models to measure our progress and work with data and digitalisation experts to inform our output and next steps continuously to support this.

Driving value from our systems and solutions

We know we must measure the impact of our work, understanding how it’s benefitted end users and how value can be further increased, and share this data. For each new implementation captured within our action plan we will, following implementation, provide insight on the benefits it’s delivered to measure the success and impact. Utilising feedback from our data users will support further developments and new system implementations.

Effectively collaborate

Capturing our collaborative efforts will demonstrate our continuing commitment to collaboration. We will do this within the energy sector and wider to ensure we deliver optimised outcomes. Taking a lead on collaboration in this space is important to us and we will measure this through our implementation of collaborative developments.

Developing skills and capabilities

Having the right people, with the right skills is what will allow us to deliver our strategy and action plan. Sharing how our Data and Digitalisation team is developing in terms of staff and skills as well as the business wide training taking place, further improving our organisational data literacy and understanding will enable our success to be effectively measured.

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