Developing industry first app to identify network assets

13/05/2021

We are creating a brand new technology, in partnership with app developer Minsait, an Indra company, which recognises network assets and customer devices in a completely new way via the use of Artificial Intelligence Recognition.

iDentify is a first in the UK energy industry to combine smart phone camera and AI technology. Users simply have to point their smart phone camera at the network asset, where the intelligence of the app will then recognise the asset type, use the phone’s own geo-location to determine the asset location, and with just a tap on the screen, data is returned to the Distribution Network Operator (DNO).

The app not only enables us to effectively and efficiently gather up to data asset information directly via our own field staff, but also enables this asset data to be crowdsourced by third parties, such as those installing low carbon technologies like electric vehicles charging points and heat pumps. Installers’ use of the app to share the data allows us to then remotely assess the impact of these customer devices on the electricity network.

We are also utilising the app technology and data to directly enhance our own customer experience. With the technology, we can provide guidance to our customers on faults they may be able to rectify themselves, such as tripped switches in their fuse box. Modernising and streamlining operational processes like this are invaluable for the electricity network of the future, particularly as the uptake of low carbon technologies continues to grow.

Michael Alexander, our Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and iDentify project lead, said: “As a key enabler to decarbonisation, we focus on modernising our network with digitalisation initiatives, and see a real opportunity for this latest innovation to enable more agile network capacity management and monitoring, with clear benefits to our customers and our network.

“Following our teams innovative work on the initial iDentify solution, we are looking to expand on the learnings so far and are now starting to collaborate with other UK based DNOs and the ENA to further develop the app capabilities, ensuring its suitability for the entire electricity network.

“Our world is changing rapidly, with decarbonisation and the constant development of new technology at the heart, as we look towards our net zero and climate change ambitions. Finding innovative solutions like this to enhance network visibility, and developing smarter, more agile ways to manage our operations, is critical.”

Beatriz Batanero Rodriguez, Key Account Manager at Minsait, said: “iDentify promotes the value of data as a strategic asset. By means of applying AI we generate greater efficiency in business decisions and operations, in addition to promoting the circular economy and the discovery of new business models.

iDentify app is based on automatic asset recognition. Employing this technology, the digitalisation and standardisation of the installation process of new devices is achieved. The use of AI is one of the most significant digital transformation drivers that will allow DNOs to make better decisions as new detailed and accurate data are gathered. This technology will enable early identification of faults or anomalies in power supply network and deliver value to their customers”

Dan Clarke, Head of Innovation at Energy Networks Association, said: “Every electricity network operator is already supporting the Net Zero transformation, so there’s a real opportunity for the iDentify app to evolve into a standardised method for all installers across the country to use when connecting low carbon technologies to the network. Using an automated process like this is a huge leap forward in the digitalisation of the connections process. It provides access to a more comprehensive view of the electricity network and assets connected to it, removes old manual processes, and makes it more efficient for installers to deliver the Net Zero future the public need.”

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