Question and Answer…. with Bill Nolan


This issue, to continue with our series of Question and Answer sessions with key people, partners and stakeholders, we are speaking to the Risk Management Specialist, Bill Nolan from Irish Water.

Bill manages the Risk Management Team in IW and his primary responsibility is to oversee the development and implementation of asset risk management policies and procedures. Bill is a Chartered Engineer and prior to joining Irish Water worked for various Engineering Consultancies in Dublin, based predominantly in their water services departments. Bill has 12 years’ experience in the water industry and is a Civil Engineering graduate from UCD in 2004.


Question 1: Tell us about your role in the project?

Answer: Irish Water (IW) are one of three critical infrastructure (CI) operators that are part of the project team. We are the national water utility company in Ireland. IW provide potable water to our customers and we also provide waste water collection and treatment services. As with the other CI partners, our role in RESILENS is to provide the project team with a practical insight as to how resilience management is currently carried out in a CI utility company. This insight ensures that all project deliverables take account of real life practices. Our main responsibility to date has been the table top testing of the European Resilience Management Guideline (ERMG) and the RESILENS toolkit.

I am coordinating the IW inputs to RESILENS. We have four staff members involved in the day to day delivery of the project and have also involved up to 30 others (both internal and external to IW) at various stages of the project so far. It has been my job to co-ordinate all of this and ensure that we’re meeting the expectations of the various work package leads.


Question 2: How do you think the project will benefit the wider public?

Answer: A successful outcome of the project will be an increase in the awareness of CI operators of resilience management best practices and a resultant improvement in the manner in which they conduct their resilience management. The benefit of this to the wider public will be a reduction in the number of events or incidents that have resultant impacts on the customers of CI operators. Improved resilience management practices will also decrease the length of any supply interruptions to customers. It will also reduce the probability of catastrophic failures with extreme consequences occurring.


Question 3: How are you engaging the key target users?

Answer: My main engagement with target end users is within IW. During our table top testing of the ERMG and RESILENS toolkit, we engaged all potential end users from within IW to get their feedback on what is being developed by the project and its potential future use. We have also involved other CI operators from Ireland in some high level workshops to explain the RESILENS project to them and to collect feedback from them as to what they would like to see from the ERMG and toolkit. All project partners have a responsibility to disseminate the work of the project and to this end we have delivered a number of presentations to our peers from other CI operators, consultancies and contractors. Our level of engagement with other CI operators will increase as the ERMG and toolkit near completion.


Question 4: Why do you think this project is going to be successful?

Answer: I think the make up of the project team is the key to the project’s success. RESILENS has a combination of researchers, academics and end users within the project team and how effectively we continue to work together will be crucial to achieving success. Its also apparent that there is an appetite amongst the target end users for the type of guidance that we will deliver through the ERMG and also the toolkit. So the timing of the project is also key to success.


Question 5: What is the legacy of the project?

Answer: The project legacy will be increasing the awareness of CI operators of best practice resilience management and therefore a reduction in the number of events that discommode the public. Taking IW as an example of this, prior to working on this project we would have considered our resilience management practices as being robust. Through our involvement with RESILENS we’ve looked inwardly at our existing practices and have been comforted that the systems we have in place would represent best practice. But the project has also highlighted areas for improvement. Our project involvement has also resulted in a lot of internal discussions around resilience management involving all of those within the organisation with responsibilities for various resilience concepts. These discussions have proven very useful in generating ideas for us to improve in this area.


Question 6: How does the project work in-conjunction with other similar projects?

Answer: IW are not involved in similar projects. However our involvement in RESILENS would encourage us to participate in similar projects in the future.