My involvement in NWG’s Innovation festival


I went to Northumbrian Water’s first Innovation Festival a couple of years ago. It was just after I had left Durham and started my new business and must admit that I felt a bit out of my depth, drowning perhaps. There were hundreds of people there working on a range of different themes and in my  defence I had a lot going on at the time. Last year I thought perhaps it wasn’t for me. 

This year was different though. Whilst I hadn’t planned to go, Tony from Northumbrian Water had asked if I would come along to their cyber workstream, which was really known as the Future Security Daily Dash. He is speaking at #CyberFest in September and I was happy to oblige. In a strange twist of fate however, another friend of mine, Charles, asked if I would be interested in speaking at the event with him, in what turned out to be the same dash.

Of course I was more than happy to say yes until I was told the subject – ‘The challenge of data security from a Smart Cities Perspective – Practical Implications on Planning Initiatives’ This would then lead into a session on mapping the gas network of the near future.

What do I know about gas networks?

I decided instead to try and give my perspective on the issues they may face from my experience with the Digital Durham programme. OK it was not gas but it was a network and I imagined that many of the issues would be the same.

I spoke about how it was future demand that drove the network and that it was important to understand where new housing or business developments were occurring, while any company is going to have an eye on maximising its existing infrastructure investment. I talked about government legislation and how the UK is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050 and the effect this may have on gas supply. At the same time we can’t forget local legislation and planning. Everyone wants infrastructure but nobody wants their street disrupted.

I then want on, of course, to look at the management of both physical and cyber security. The increased use of sensors and remote control processes are open to potential cyber abuse and we need to keep our guard up. I ended on the possible issue of GDPR and whether or not the data coming out of the network sensors could be used to glean personal data, such as when you are home, how often you bathe etc.

I also got a plug in for #CyberFest.

The audience seemed to get what I was saying, with lots of nods, which I always take as a good sign. In the end, I enjoyed the session very much and I wonder if I’ll be invited back next year.

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