Pillar 3: digitisation
Advancing ICT is rapidly unlocking new digital opportunities for operating our networks. By installing smart meters, sensors, remote control switches and a telecom network, we can quickly detect and even prevent interruptions, make more targeted investments in the networks and offer customers data to make energy choices easier for them. Besides creating advantages for our customers, this reduces the need for a costly network upgrade, the bill for which should be paid by society at large. Alliander is therefore opting for far-reaching digitisation of its networks, including the accompanying innovations.
Digitisation programme under pressure
We are still falling short of our digitisation ambitions. We had set ambitious digitisation targets for the year under review, precisely because this is a crucial development. One target was to complete 95% of our digitisation programmes, but we only realised 58%. Unfortunately, capacity problems are thwarting our efforts to get all the work done. Solving safety problems and connecting customers is a bigger priority than the digitisation programme.
Smart networks and data technology
Roll-out of intelligent medium-voltage station and FlexOVL
Repairing faults faster and providing customers with better information when faults occur: these are some of the advantages of intelligent medium-voltage stations (iMSR) in our network. In the meantime, over 2,500 FlexOVLs and 155 iMSRs have been placed. This roll-out is to be continued in the coming years and to be expanded to the other regions in the Liander service area. We have also expanded FlexOVL, the new public lighting switch system, via our own network. Operating our own network gives us more control over availability and reliability. And the costs are lower too.
Digitisation can also assist the safer, faster or more efficient performance of engineering work. IntellEvent, for instance, is smart technology that helps to solve faults in the medium-voltage station. When interruptions occur, the tool combines all sorts of data from multiple systems and identifies the cable or medium-voltage station where the fault is probably located.
Digitisation also helps us to gather and rapidly interpret large quantities of data. This enables us to optimise and automate our business operations through e.g. online accounting and data handling. To give one example, only a few months after we introduced e-invoicing, we found that the ease and speed with which customers were able to pay resulted in a much shorter payment term.
Digitisation offers many advantages, but also creates risks. The fight against cybercrime is never-ending and requires permanent vigilance and training. Alliander therefore exercises caution in reporting on this subject. For more information, see the Risks chapter.
Privacy and data security
The smart meter data help us to facilitate the energy transition and offer a reliable service to our customers. Our customers must be able to trust us to use their personal details with great care. Privacy is therefore an important focus area for Liander. Our organisation, processes and systems all meet high privacy standards, as is testified by the Privacy Audit Proof Quality Label that we have received every year from an independent party since 2011. Apart from the customer's privacy, it is also important to verify that the data we receive from the smart meter is safely processed. We extensively test the security of our smart meters and our IT systems that process the data from the smart meters. The outcomes of these tests are used to take preventive measures against possible system vulnerabilities that hackers could take advantage of. As goes without saying, we also comply with all privacy laws. Employees are made aware of the importance of handling personal details with the utmost care and are trained to act accordingly. We at Liander work to safeguard privacy across the board and ensure the safe handling of personal and customer data. This contributes to our customers' trust in Liander in general and the acceptance of the smart meter in particular.