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Reflect, reset and prepare – closing out 2021

Mike Hewitt, DCC's Chief Technology Officer, reflects on the progress we've made in 2021, some of the challenges we've overcome, and looks forward to the exciting opportunities 2022 will bring.

I find December an exciting month, and a favourite time of year for many of us – not only do we connect and celebrate it’s also a great time to reflect, reset and prepare for the time ahead.

December 2021 marks the completion of my 19th month in DCC and a full year cycle. My starting point is all the amazing things we have achieved in 2021 against a headwind of change and challenge across the energy sector. The ongoing pandemic, and the constraints that come with it, challenging me and my team as we address the complex technology changes needed to keep the network reliable and secure.

Our people have continued to deliver in a challenging environment. Working with our customers their efforts have moved the dial from 10 million connected smart meters past 16 million as we race towards the end of 2021.

The technology and operations teams have continued to wrestle and pull first generation smart meter connections forwards. We’ve gone deep into technical issue resolution, learning some valuable lessons and overcoming many challenges along the way. Dual Band Communication Hubs have come online, enabling a greater penetration of meters across the more hard-to-connect properties.

When restrictions on movement were lifted, I found face to face engagement with my team really powerful as we set our technology evolution direction into 2022. The use of technology to ensure ongoing engagement and communication while in lockdown has been nothing less than phenomenal. But there’s nothing better than getting really smart people in a room to solve really complex problems together. That’s the power of partnership and I hope, when it’s safe to do so, we’ll be able to work together like this again.

Since September I’ve also managed to meet all of our key technology partners face to face, which has helped my understanding of their key challenges, business drivers and the depth of knowledge across their teams as we move forward.

My privilege to lead the technology function in DCC is providing me and my team really exciting opportunities as we look to enhance the network’s capabilities. We’ve embarked on our 4G comms hub programme to make the network fit for the future. At the heart of DCC is the Data Service Platform or DSP as we call it. In 2022 and beyond one of our priorities will be to transform the core platform to ensure we remain resilient and secure at scale. It will be a significant transformation journey over the next few years.

As I look past December into 2022, we have tsunami of activity, as we continue to roll out SMETS2 with industry deploying over 17,000 meters a day. We have our ongoing work on SMETS1 to ensure we bring SMART back to dormant devices and migrate these onto our infrastructure.

We’re always focused on the core of what we do at DCC, the smart meter roll out, but we also have an eye on the future too.We have established a front door process to enable future innovators to understand the capabilities and scale of the DCC Platform.

We have completed Proof of Concept activity to help us understand industry requirements for other devices to connect to DCC systems like EV charge points.

At the DCC we are mixing technology and talented people to help transform the energy system and enable the decarbonisation and net zero journey. And to all those in my team, in the DCC family and to all our partners – Happy Christmas. I’m looking forward to working together to build some really solid foundations as we go into 2022.

Meet the author

Mike Hewitt

Chief Technology Officer, Smart DCC

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