RESILENS Project visit to EDP Distribuição – Energia, S.A, Lisbon

EDP is one of the largest energy (electricity and gas) distributers in the Iberian peninsula, with a strong presence in Brazil and considerable investments in USA.  In Portugal EDP has an installed capacity of 8,911 MW, 5.7 Million Electricity customers, electricity generation  of  22,723 GWh  and electricty distribution of 43,858 GWh .  EDP have 224,000 Portugeuse customers for Gas and distribute 6,938 GWh of gas.

EDP Distribuição is the distribution arm of EDP, serving over 6 Million customers in a highly regulated environment.  They have various Low Voltage Concession contracts  granted by the 278 Portugeuse municipalites  and  a High/Medium Voltage distribution contract granted by Portugeuse Government.  Through these they have responsibility for the planning, construction and maintenance of the National Electricity Distribution network; Operation of the National Electricity Distribution network and provide market support for switching and metering.

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During our Lisbon trip, RESILENS project group were provided with a fascinating tour of one of EDPs network dispatch control centres.  This is split into departments specialising in high, medium and low voltage electricity distribution.  Specialist engineers staff these departments;  constantly monitoring the distribution network performance and using their specialist knowledge and skills, and a range of computer programmes and controls to re-divert the distribution channels, test and fix lines remotely, or support and guide on the ground maintenance and repair teams.  EDP have a constantly evolving, sophisticated and highly developed risk assessment and resilience plan, which is fully tested at times of crises such as the last great storm that hit Portugal.  RESILENS project team were impressed with EDP’s existing resilience planning and keen to use EDP’s experience as a Critical Infrastructure partner to inform development of RESILENS Resilience guidelines, interactive tools and learning resources.

EDP is one of RESILENS project partners who will be actively involved in pilot testing RESILENS project outputs. Many thanks to EDP Directors and staff for their hospitality and providing us with such an informative visit.

Question and Answer….with Dr William Hynes

As part of gaining a better understanding of the part people play in the project and what their individual thoughts or on the programme of work, we will be undertaking a series of Question and Answer sessions with key people, partners and stakeholders and sharing these thoughts with all those involved in the project. This issue, we are speaking to the Project Coordinator, Dr William Hynes, from Future Analytics.

Question 1:   How do you think the project will benefit the wider public? 

Answer: The RESILENS project is of immense benefit to the wider public with the project outputs directly enabling CI stakeholders to adequately quantify their level of resilience, thereby resulting in a more resilient infrastructure. In-turn this will bolster the preparation of CIs with regards to potential disaster events, as well as enhance post disaster operational continuity. Ultimately,  more resilient CIs will ensure a maintenance of quality of life for the public, and more stability and safer living environments.

Question 2: How are you engaging the key target users? 

Answer: The key target users for the RESILENS outputs are CI providers and guardians, as well as rescuers (encompassing emergency services and civil protection groups) and the wider public. The project engages end users from the onset of the project and seeks to incorporate learning/knowledge from the CI and rescue sphere through the participation of key target end users as partners in the project. Having such representative end users as consortium partners provides the project with the opportunity for continuous engagement with the target users while the resilience management tools and ERMG is developed. The project end user partners also provide an excellent platform for conducting testing and pilot demonstrations which will consequently helps to prove the applicability of the RESILENS project outputs, which can then be further expanded for use by other end users outside the consortium.

Question 3: Why do you think this project is going to be successful? 

Answer: I am confident the project is going to be successful because of the fantastic consortium which we have. The RESILENS project brings together an experienced and multi-disciplinary team with a highly diverse expertise and skills set. The consortium which consists of CI providers, SMEs, research organisations, academic partners and civil protection groups, collectively cover and contribute the necessary expertise to effectively achieve the project objectives and significantly advance the application and operationalisation of resilience principles to the CI sector.

The “community of users” collaboration with other projects in the resilience sphere ensures an improvement in information sharing which will in-turn lead to greater success in delivering the project outputs.

Question 4: What is the legacy of the project? 

Answer: There has increasingly been a need for a resilience management tools by CI stakeholders to support business continuity planning and aid the identification of infrastructural areas or components which require resilience reinforcement (hence support the efficient resource allocation to bolster the CI resilience).  A legacy of the RESILENS project will therefore be delivering a functional, operational platform which can be used by stakeholders to assess their infrastructural resilience (including providing a resilience score and identification of aspects of their CI which could be improved). The RESILENS platform will also house a formulated and operationalised ERMG and will contain a learning component to educate and improve the knowledge of end users on resilience management.

It is expected that the RESILENS tools developed will not be restricted for use in solely the CI sector, but will also be expanded and adapted for use in the urban and built infrastructure resilience sphere.

It is also envisaged that the RESILENS outputs will provide a solid foundation on which future EU regulatory standards for use across all CI sectors may be formulated.

 

Question 5: How does the project work in-conjunction with other similar projects? 

Answer: The project involves active engagement and collaboration with other H2020 and FP 7 projects focused on the resilience area (including the DRIVER project). Where appropriate, it seeks to learn from the different approaches applied in those projects. For example, the FP7 HARMONISE project which is in its latter phases has equipped this project with knowledge on resilience approaches for urban infrastructures which can be tailored for CI. The RESILENS project also harnesses all opportunities for information sharing presented by co-ordination meetings (organised by the EC) and workshops with similar projects. For instance, RESILENS recently attended the IMPROVER workshop on CI resilience in  Copenhagen, Denmark (September, 2015) and participated in the EC organised DRS-7 coordination meeting in Brussels, Belgium (September, 2015).

As previously mentioned, the community of users which the RESILENS project is part of, provides an avenue for similar projects to continuously share information which in-turn vastly improves the direction and quality of the outputs of the projects involved.

Project Round up – General Assembly Meeting Lisbon 22-23rd September

The management structures for RESILENS comprise several governance bodies: Work Packages (WP) leaders, the General Assembly (GA), the Executive Board (EB) and the Advisory Board (AB), as illustrated above.

The General Assembly (GA) is responsible for the overall success of RESILENS. The GA consists of 1 senior representative from each Partner in the Consortium, who is authorised to make decisions on their organisation’s behalf to avoid any unnecessary delays. The GA has two primary project management functions: executive and administrative.  The GA meets twice a year routinely.

To make best use of resource we also held our Executive Board (EB) meeting at the same time.  The Executive board is made up of the Coordinator and each Work Package leader and oversees the project, with responsibility for project management, decision making, and monitoring progress and maintaining high quality in the project works.  The Executive Board reports to the General Assembly and meets twice a year to supplement monthly conference calls.

The last GA/EB was in Lisbon, hosted jointly by our three Portuguese project partners:

  • Factor Social (FS)
  • Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, Lisbon City Council
  • EDP Distribuição (EDPD)

During the Executive Board and General Assembly meetings, there were many opportunities for rich and productive discussion and debate, to inform and guide RESILENS project development.  Of particular focus this meeting was ‘What is Resilience?’ and the synergies and differences between ‘Resilience’ and ‘Risk Assessment and Risk Management’.  Rich discussion also took place on the importance of Resilience not just within Critical Infrastructure organisations but crucially between Critical Infrastructure Providers during times of crises and disaster.  At these times, when an organisation’s ability to cope with the emergency is most tested, they most need to work closely and communicate with other critical infrastructure providers including emergency responders, as well as update and reassure the general public.

During the RESILENS project, we will develop interactive tools and learning materials to support this range of stakeholders and also the important links between providers, to develop their resilience preparedness, prevention, protection, responsiveness and recovery.  For example, an organisation’s risk management system may have already identified ‘loss of all senior management personnel’ as a risk and mitigated this by booking them on separate flights when they are travelling.  However, how does an organisation prepare and cope in the unfortunate situation where it loses all its senior management, despite the risk mitigations in place?  How does that organisation develop its staff and systems to work flexibly during times of disaster?  What systems does it have in place to support its staff to cope physically and psychologically, to respond, deliver a service, communicate with a range of stakeholders, get through the crises and recover?

RESILEN’s current focus is identifying state of the art international resilience practices, to inform our gap analysis and develop a range of interactive tools including:

Our RESILENS European Resilience Management Guideline (ERMG)

An interactive, web based, Resilience Decision Support Platform (RES-DSP), hosting a range of Resilience Management Matrix and Audit tools.  This will be tested through pilot demonstrations which will allow multiple simulated testing events and will address the entire life-cycle of a crisis/disaster involving a man-made threat or natural disaster.

Within the RES-DSP will be an integrated multi-agency CONcept of OPerationS framework (CONOPS) focusing on the roles of the various stakeholders, their interactions, critical dependencies, use of resources and knowledge requirements. This will include the roles and activities of emergency responders, utilities providers, infrastructure managers and public administration as well as examining the role of the citizen in terms of achieving and maintaining resilience

Within the RES-DSP we will also develop an interactive RESILENS e learning hub, supported by a range of training materials and workshop based e learning (face to face and virtual) for rescuers. Through the ERMG, we will provide a solid foundation on which future regulatory standards for application across all Critical Infrastructures sectors may be formulated.

During our time in Lisbon, we also had an opportunity to visit Lisbon City Council and EDP to see their work in action, understand further their needs as Critical Infrastructure Providers and explore the resources and systems they already have in place for resilience and their work with the general public.

Our very attentive hosts  the two days beautifully, providing us with a taste of the wonderful Portuguese hospitality and a chance to see a little of Lisbon during late summer, after 2 very full meeting days.

The RESILENS project

The frequency and severity of impacts of disaster and crises events has channeled attention to vulnerable physical assets, with a particular focus on critical infrastructure (CI). The removal or suspension of critical infrastructure assets from normal service significantly affect public safety, security, economic activity or environmental quality. A breakdown in any one of these assets alone can bring about catastrophic consequences, but it is the inter-dependency of these systems, and by extension, the cascading effects of a breakdown in one system on other interconnected systems, which is of most significant concern.

A fault in an electricity transmission network in Northern Germany which resulted in a blackout for more than 15 million people across Western Europe in 2006 exemplifies the type of cascading effects on transport, healthcare systems, financial services and societal security and safety that can quickly arise when there is a failure of critical infrastructure. Another example of the importance of resilience efforts to safeguarding CI arose when a Russian-Ukraine gas dispute escalated in 2009 resulting in a major disruption to the gas supply of many European States with thousands of homes and business left without electricity. This news section will keep you updated on how RESILENS progresses in  combating these and other system breakdowns in the wider European context.