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The winners of the 2020 Digital Utility Awards have been revealed at a virtual symposium and awards ceremony that took place on Thursday 22 October. 

Six awards were handed out in total, celebrating the utility industry’s greatest achievements in the digitisation of utility networks, processes and practices across Australia.

The winners are:

Best Customer Innovation Award – Bill Identity

Best Use of New Technology Award – SA Power Networks

Digital Utility of the Year – Energy – Western Power

Digital Utility of the Year – Water – Urban Utilities

Young Digital Leader of the Year Award – Gagneet Serai, Senior Asset Analytics Engineer, Unitywater

Utility Innovator of the Year Award – Cameron Dorse, Chief Digital Officer, Jemena

The calibre of entries for this year’s awards was extremely high and choosing the winners proved to be a difficult decision for the panel of judges which included: 

  • Andrew Dillon, Chief Executive Officer, Energy Networks Australia
  • Adam Lovell, Executive Director, Water Services Association of Australia
  • Tony Martin, Oceania Advisory Leader, Energy Transition, EY
  • Faye Griffiths, Managing Director, Resources Operating Group, Accenture
  • Craig Mathisen, Chief Operations Officer, Water Industry Operators Association of Australia
  • Sanj Perera, Asia Pacific Consulting Partner, Deloitte

The six judges have a wealth of experience across water and power utilities.

Both the awards and the Digital Utilities conference were launched as a way to gather some of the best ideas when it comes to the digitisation of utilities so that all of the industry can benefit from some of the impressive changes that are being made as different organisations embark on their digital transformation journeys.

The winning entries were deemed the best in utility digitisation for 2020, and were among high-quality finalists in each category. 

The finalists are:

Best Customer Innovation
Bill Identity – for its software solution that leverages Robotic Process Automation technology to fully automate utility bill management.
Energy Queensland – for its Look Up and Live app, which pinpoints the location of more than 178,000km of overhead powerlines to improve safety.
Hunter Water – for its online Water Usage Calculator that provides personalised water saving tips and real-time feedback on how a user’s behaviour impacts their water usage.
Jemena – for its Customer Journeys Program, which involved radically innovating digital solutions for three key steps in the process of customers connecting to gas or electricity.
United Energy – for its Network Fault Detection System, which analyses, in near real time, the data from smart meters to help identify potentially unsafe network connections that may result in electric shocks.
Urban Utilities – for its adoption of the Virtual Assist platform in its Contact Centre to improve the accuracy of fault logging and response resolution time.
Water Corporation – for its Water Watchers online tool, which helps customers compare their water use with similar households based on four key factors: suburb, block size, number of people and bore use.

Best Use of New Technology
CitiPower, Powercor and United Energy – for its LiDAR Lab project, which is using LIDAR surveying and machine learning to create a digital map of network infrastructure and analyse historical data.
Endeavour Energy – for its use of geospatial analysis to understand the past, present and future vegetation risks on a bushfire-prone electricity network.
Jemena – for its cloud analytics platform, Jemena Amazon Web Services (JAWS), which combines a data lake, curated data sets and reusable machine learning applications.
Melbourne Water – for its use of Artificial Intelligence to automatically assess vegetation from images captured by drones.
SA Power Networks – for its network of the future solution, which is leveraging an opportunity to offer an increased energy export limit, above the standard 5kW, and better integrate distributed energy resources.
SA Water – for its fresh approach to SCADA, which saw the replacement of its decentralised platform to a central, virtual solution across multiple secure data centres.
South East Water – for its Aquarevo residential development, which brings together a suite of innovative water and energy saving technologies that have not previously been incorporated in an urban residential context.
Water Corporation – for its H2OME study, which combines multiple big data sets, including digital metering data, household data, and weather, spatial, land and CSIRO photogrammetry data to understand the drivers of water use.

Digital Utility of the Year – Energy
Jemena
SA Power Networks
Western Power

Digital Utility of the Year – Water
South East Water
Urban Utilities

Young Digital Leader of the Year
Gagneet Serai, Senior Asset Analytics Engineer, Unitywater
Ian Harding, Remote and Mobile Technologies Specialist, Melbourne Water
Jesse Mills, Strategic Customer Innovation Lead, Jemena
Jiangxia Zhong, Data Analytics Engineer, Jemena
Raphael D’Almeida, Works Delivery Analyst, Unitywater
Roger Barnes, CEO, Billcap and Managing Director, SleevesUp

Utility Innovator of the Year
Cameron Dorse, Chief Digital Officer, Jemena
Russell Riding, Automation Team Leader, Melbourne Water
Tristan Bottrell, Manager Digital Projects, Water Corporation

The 2020 Digital Utility Awards and Symposium was a continuation of the original Digital Utilities 2020 event in March. The Digital Utilities program is created by the team behind Utility magazine.

Moving towards a digital format this year was a necessity, but also reflects the event’s philosophy of digitisation and adaptation. Utility was hoping to be able to host an in-person awards night before the end of the year, but with the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, a live event just wasn’t feasible.

In addition to the awards ceremony, symposium delegates also heard from the industry’s leading experts on how COVID-19 had changed or accelerated utility digital transformation strategies and priorities. 

During 2019, Jemena embarked on a digital transformation that has radically changed what and how it delivers the digital outcomes its customers want and need. During a Q&A session with Phil Duncanson, General Manager Digital and Analytics at Jemena, attendees learned about the establishment of one of the utility’s key digital technologies – the Jemena Amazon Web Services analytics platform.

COVID-19 has resulted in an increased number of people requiring temporary or ongoing financial support from their essential service providers. In his presentation, Using data analytics to support customers in hardship, Paul Cranwell, Customer Analytics Specialist at SA Water, explored how data analytics has enabled a more targeted approach around hardship to meet emerging and individual customer needs. 

Zubran Solaiman, Director, Product Management at Bentley Systems, who was the Digital Utilities 2020 Event Partner, pre-recorded an informative presentation on how to ensure the successful delivery and adoption of digital transformation projects.

The symposium concluded with an industry panel that featured fascinating insights from Carlos Gamez, Head of Asset Performance, Western Power; Dennis Cristante, Head of ICT Portfolio Planning & Business, Urban Utilities; and Adam Bumpus, CEO and co-founder of RedGrid, and Senior Lecturer at the University of Melbourne.

Utility would like to congratulate all the finalists and winners of the awards and looks forward to working with the industry again for next year’s event.

To watch the event on demand, please click here

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

©2020 utilitymagazine. All rights reserved

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