How can DNOs efficiently communicate with LRFs in a crisis?

In an emergency, Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) are expected to work with local authorities, emergency services, and health services (that are collectively known as Local Resilience Forums or LRFs) to make sure there’s an effective cross agency response to a crisis.

This relationship was put to the test in 2021 when Storm Arwen hit the UK and caused severe disruption to power supplies. In subsequent reports, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Scottish Government highlighted the need to improve the information sharing process between DNOs and LRFs as some had difficulty getting the data they needed.

Storm planning was high on the agenda of most LRFs and DNOs over summer. In these meetings, they firmed up processes to make sure accurate information could be shared quickly to make the right decisions at the right time. However, when you’re in the middle of extreme weather, where the situation can change in unpredictable ways, you may find that plans need to flex or completely change.

 

Best laid plans of DNOs and LRFs often go awry

Planning during the glorious warm weather in summer is worlds apart from being in the thick of a crisis. You’re spinning so many plates, working relentlessly, frantically fixing problems and probably managing people who are just as stressed and tired as you.

You need a platform that can process data from multiple sources and then send critical information to LRFs. You might get incident data as a .CSV from the police, Esri Shapefile spatial data from the environment agency, and .XML files from the Met Office. You need something that can read those, make those files usable, and then send information back to LRFs in a file type they can use.

A lot can change in a few months too. You could have added new sensors to your asset network, the police might have changed the team members managing crisis response, or the local authority may have shifted their resources without telling you. All things you should know but might only find out mid-crisis when your emails are bouncing, and your reports are wrong.

You need a versatile and reliable platform that can process lots of data, pull information together in a useful way, get that information to the people who need it, and be able to quickly change processes. That platform is FME.

 

Flexible, fast and reliable

FME is a robust platform that can transform data into something workable for you, validate it, process it, and send it internally and to LRFs in a format that works with their systems.  We’re a leading Platinum Partner of FME and we genuinely think it’s a Swiss Army Knife for your data. Plus, FME has been around for over 25 years and is proven to work in practically any situation – it won’t break down on you.

The best bit is that FME is a no-code platform, which means you don’t need a developer to make changes. You just need to drag and drop blocks (we call them transformers) and then connect them up. So, if you find out a hospital has built a new ward that needs power restoring quickly, you can change your FME workflow without having to wait for coders. Seriously, you wouldn’t believe how quickly Harrow Council set up an FME workspace to respond to COVID-19 (spoiler, it was just 2 hours).

Like Harrow Council, you can connect FME to a visualisation platform like Power BI or Tableau too. So, you can share these visualisations with LRFs through APIs and integrate them into your own crisis centres.

Known unknowns

During a storm, you’ll still be faced with unpredictability, frantic calling around, and sleepless nights (if you get to sleep) but you can be assured that FME is fast, flexible, and can get you the information you need to make the right decisions. You won’t have to waste your time watching data sources, manually creating reports or be powerless if your processes must change mid-crisis.

 

How do you make this happen?

At miso, we’re always happy to help with FME or any data questions. We’re a helpful bunch.

You should also ask your geospatial team about FME because they’re probably using it right now.

If you have any questions about FME and how it can deal with unpredictability just get in touch.