Combining asset data into a connected digital twin can give asset owners across energy, water and telecoms networks a better understanding of the risk of extreme weather events caused by climate change, allowing them to .
“We cannot plan for a more resilient future in silos” heard delegates to a showcase event this month exploring progress with CReDo – the Climate Resilience Demonstrator – whose second phase is led by Connected Places Catapult and the Digital Twin Hub.
Instead, a “whole system” approach is needed which considers the complex connections and interdependencies between different types of infrastructure essential to society’s functioning.
Over 450 people joined the hybrid event and heard Elliot Christou, CReDo Technical Lead at the Catapult, and Sarah Snelson, a specialising in public policy practice with Frontier Economics, explain the threats posed by a changing climate and the need to using sophisticated tools such as CReDo to limit disruption from future flooding.
CReDo is a climate change adaptation digital twin which brings together data across energy, water and telecoms networks to create a bird’s eye view of the infrastructure system. Connected Places Catapult has been working with Anglian Water, BT and Openreach and UK Power Networks who have brought their people and their data to the project to investigate how it possible to share data across sectors and how there is benefit in doing so through increased climate resilience.
We heard how simulations can be run and data interrogated using the CReDo digital twin to allow users to understand more fully the vulnerabilities of their infrastructure networks to flooding. With the correct information to hand, asset owners can make more informed decisions to protect their assets in advance of these extreme weather events impacting and causing failure across the system.
Scenarios can be created that demonstrate the impact of a range of different future flooding show how the loss of one piece of the infrastructure jigsaw puzzle can disrupt other services. CReDo can then be used to coordinate and support decision making to allow the infrastructure system to be better protected and made more resilient.
Using data to create “actionable insights” could therefore allow decisions to be made that “keep the lights on at a lower cost for the benefit of network operators and society” it was said.
Recent months have been focused on CReDo as a decision-making tool for asset operators. Going forward, the benefits for customers and wider society are set to be explored further. A report on progress with phase two of the project is to be published shortly.
Flooding threats made clear
The showcase event began with a powerful video featuring Baroness Brown of Cambridge, (Professor Dame Julia King) Chair of the Adaptation Committee of the Climate Change Committee outlining the rising occurrences of extreme weather, the need for infrastructure to be resilient to such events and how the impact on society can be more serious if authorities are not more prepared.
“The climate change resilience of infrastructure networks is a challenge that is not yet well understood and is one that we need to address urgently,” she said. “Asset owners really need to know, who are they dependent on”, she added, pointing out that if one is impacted by flooding and that problem was to affect an energy substation for instance, that problem could cascade further. “Understanding risks in advance and how we can mitigate them is key.”
Speakers at the event included Sarah Hayes, Strategic Engagement Lead for CReDo, who explained that one vision for the digital twin is for asset owners to be able to assess the impact of future investment decisions, such as relocating or improving defences for a power substation.
While phase one of the CReDo project used a centralised database, phase two explores how to develop a distributed architecture to enable scalability across sectors, regions and organisations, she explained. “We are on a journey towards connected digital twins”.
Jethro Akroyd, Principal Engineer at CMCL Innovations, ran through the approach to developing the distributed architecture and explained how CReDo uses a common data structure to enable interoperability between the data sets from the asset owners. He walked the audience through a technical demonstration of the CReDo visualisation showing how the assets are connected and then impacted by flooding scenarios as failure cascades throughout the system.
Industry panel shares its insights
A panel discussion involving representatives from asset owners involved in CReDo, Anglian Water, BT and UK Power Networks together with representatives across infrastructure and climate moderated by Arup’s global digital leader Simon Evans concluded proceedings.
"I am hugely impressed by what I have heard,” remarked one of the . “What we are talking about is getting access to data". Another said: “We are increasingly seeing the impact of climate change, so energy and water networks definitely need to work more closely together."
One utility provider remarked that more frequent severe weather events caused by climate change were having a big impact on its fault rates. “We cannot protect everything all of the time, so the better we understand how systems are inter-related, the more we can help customers and create insights into the most sensible way to protect our network.”
National Infrastructure Commissioner Jim Hall commented that it was great to see the use of digital tools to help with the planning of resilient infrastructure. “This is a really exciting space,” he noted, “let’s not stop experimenting”.
Connected Places Catapult’s Ecosystem Director for Integrated Infrastructure, Chris Jones described CReDo as a “great example of the Catapult ethos of bringing together infrastructure sectors, generating a conversation, identifying common ground and sparking innovation”.
“We have got ambitious plans to scale CReDo”, he added, “and we want you all to work with us to take this project forward.”
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Article by Mike Walter, Connected Places Catapult