I’ve been proud to join with other organisations at the cutting-edge of Britain’s drive to decarbonise and its future energy system to showcase the work we’re doing as part of the digital series, ‘Leading the Charge’.
As the digital spine of Britain’s energy system, the DCC is truly at the heart of the journey towards net zero. The numbers behind what we do as we build the secure, scalable spine for the energy system force me to think big. By 2025, we will have 33 million homes connected, 56 million smart meters installed, over 150 million devices on our network, and 8 billion messages being carried by the network. These are significant numbers which can be hard to visualise, so I will bring the numbers back to today – 17,000 installations in a day, delivered by 6,000 installers from our partners, the energy suppliers, in people’s homes all across Britain.
The DCC’s Technology team is a small team of experts who underpin and enable the digitalisation of the UK’s energy system, dealing with technology that could last over 15 years. Our team operates across a complex ecosystem called the smart meter network – today we have over 20 key fundamental service providers who work alongside us to operate the technology platform and an ecosystem that also includes over 150 DCC customers (also known as ‘service users’). We also have 11 SMETS2 meter manufacturers, 40 different meter types and hundreds of firmware variations across our network, which today connects almost 23 million meters and 12 million homes. Behind these numbers are people that design, build, deliver and operate the smart meter system on behalf of every person in the UK.
As the ‘design authority’ for smart metering in Britain, our Technology team is responsible and accountable for the secure, 24/7 operation of the nationwide smart meter network.
- We ensure that all changes to smart meters are tested, implemented and assured across thousands of device model combinations. Every day in our Technical Operations Centre (TOC) we carry out hundreds of independent tests on behalf of meter manufacturers and industry participants to verify that devices operate effectively before the change is implemented across the national network.
- We ensure all changes to our core systems are assessed, designed and implemented to ensure continuity of service. We make sure that our secure messaging platform (DSP) talks to our wide area network, that our encryption keys are supplied, changed and rotated, that our SMETS1 system interfaces to our DSP and that our supporting system and any changes, hardware replacements and upgrades don’t impact our 24/7 digital spine.
- We design new services to meet the future requirements of the energy industry. The new Central Switching Service (CSS) went live in July 2022 ensuring we can match every meter to the correct address and suppliers can be validated to enable switching times to reduce from weeks to next day. We are also designing the next generation of communications hubs to bridge the transition from 2G/3G to 4G and beyond using long-term evolution (LTE) technology.
- We’re always looking ahead to plan for a smarter future. I will use the term ‘horizon scanning’ carefully and with duty given the core role we have in digitalising the energy system, but it’s essential that we engage with other thought leaders to ensure we continue to adopt best practice and the tools our customers will need to deliver innovative services to every home in Britain. This includes understanding the benefits of public and private cloud infrastructure, virtualisation of physical assets to lower the cost of running our network and ensuring that the DCC platform is an enduring platform to enable innovation and deliver social good.
I bring these key themes together under the ‘Leading the Charge’ campaign, as behind everything we do in DCC is our people, who are working diligently on behalf of every home to ensure we have a secure and scalable energy system. Technical skills in our Technology team are critical for me, as we transform and scale up our systems, as we define the architecture for our applications, and as we develop for the cloud, secure the cloud and run and manage our service, connecting Britain via our secure national network. Alongside our allies in the electrotechnical sector, we truly are ‘leading the charge’ to enable smarter, greener lives in a fully decarbonised society.
Chief Technology Officer
- Industry insight
- 6 min read
- Mike Hewitt, Chief Technology Officer
Operating at scale – a CTO perspective
July 2022 marked yet another milestone for DCC with our network carrying more than 1 billion messages in a month for the first time. To put that into context, we’re now processing the same amount of data in one day as we processed in a whole month two years ago.