Contribution of SPA to the Anglian Water's digital twin roadmap
Anglian Water has a 15-year roadmap for achieving an enterprise-wide Digital Twin that can ultimately form part of the long-term vision for a UK National Digital Twin.
The very first steps of the roadmap, which defined how Anglian Water's digital twin can meet the regulated outcomes as prescribed by Ofwat, are complete. Those activities were followed by a proof of concept that showed how digital twin approaches could improve energy management and workforce efficiency within the example context of a pumping station.
SPA is now at the next stage of the roadmap, where we have rolled out a first version of our applications and data architecture. Our focus and biggest challenge are building an extendable platform that can support the future Anglian Water's Digital Twin ambitions, whilst value is driven for SPA in the short term.
Implementing our applications and data strategy is a substantial transformational change, which requires a cultural shift towards a product approach, and a concerted effort to align the architecture across people, culture, technology, and data.
Anglian Water has been investigating the merits of product lifecycle management approaches to introduce a 'product mindset' to the business, ensuring that investments promote repeatability and robust standards.
In this context, SPA has been working with Anglian Water to develop an asset information model, process blocks and product data templates. Those elements provide the foundation for a product-based approach around digital assets that can be reused across the AW enterprise.
SPA has also developed various graphical interfaces through BIM, GIS and control and automation platforms, which have provided a mechanism to build products to allow user interaction with the digital assets. These graphical interfaces provide the stakeholders with powerful ways of asking "what if" questions facing different organisation objectives and asset functions.
SPA acts as a 'critical friend' to the Anglian Water enterprise. All SPA applications are continuously assessed regarding extendibility and compatibility within the Anglian Water applications landscape.
That said, SPA strives to use technologies recently approved or historically used by Anglian Water. That approach brings significant benefits in reducing procurement costs and ensuring continuity.
On the other hand, the focus on a conscious coupling of delivery and the longer-term roadmap for Anglian Water does mean that there is initially a greater level of complexity. However, that approach is already showing benefits in the velocity of our trajectory with the ability to reuse existing patterns and gain consensus and goodwill amongst the wider change community.
From a data perspective Anglian Water, with its strong Digital Twin ambitions, is in the process of maturing the curation and management of data. That involves activities in several areas such as data accuracy, integrity, completeness and timeliness. We are working with our Anglian Water colleagues to enable these through:
- Aligning our data templates with key Anglian Water contextual data, such as Asset identification, Asset location and functional location codes. That is to ensure data continuity within the various systems through using the same identification system as the one that Anglian Water has developed.
- Highlighting where current technologies cannot securely and safely house the core data required for the Digital Twin.
- Ensuring that data can flow from systems of record, and sensors, into the Digital Twin in a manner that enables timely decisions to be made.
- Ensuring that data captured within the SPA design and build phases can be held within the Anglian Water IT systems post-handover.
People and culture
There persists a view that technology such as digital twins will drive new value on their own. We believe however that value will be realised from business transformation enabled by digital twins. This will require a cultural shift in a very traditional industry.
The Strategic Pipeline Alliance was built on the principles of enabling data-informed decision-making. Valuing "data as an asset" is a new concept for Anglian Water.
Although there are robust governance processes within the organisation, an approach of open early communication has been taken to provide a "no surprises" philosophy. That approach ensures appropriate stakeholders are engaged as soon as is practical after identification and brought into the philosophy of our journey.
Education and storytelling are fundamental to help guide and draw the Anglian Water organisation along this transformational journey. Therefore, we are working closely with Anglian Water communities of practice to understand the required business capabilities and the current maturity of the Anglian Water organisation in these areas. For example, the Anglian Water and SPA architecture share a leading-edge enterprise architecture model, to ensure consistency and a frictionless handover.
A 'core delivery team' has been formed to work with SPA and Anglian Water stakeholders. The team ensures alignment from both a technical and cultural perspective, supporting the development of digital assets. Subject matter experts support the core team and are brought in as required to help deliver specialist services, such as penetration testing, installation of sensors and Operational Technology, or creation of data driven hydraulic models.
What is certainly clear is that we still have a lot to learn, however by following good architectural best practice and placing people at the heart of everything we do, we have put in place a good foundation from which to build.
If you would like to know more, please get in touch through the DT Hub.