What follows is a full transcript of the interview, with permission from SMI and Ali
SMI Group will welcome the expertise of Ali Fanshawe, Metering Strategy Manager from Thames Water when she presents at Smart Water Systems Conference this April in London.
Through her presentations, Ali will discuss a new customer engagement programme with leakage and demand benefits and explain how this new programme could change the way companies work with customers.
In the run-up to the event, SMI group caught up with Ali to discuss key success and challenges in the industry and her upcoming task. For more information, please visit
Q: About you- What is your role and what perspective do you bring to the conference?
I am a Smart Meter Strategy Manager at Thames Water, responsible for the tactical and strategic direction of the water sector’s first smart water roll-out programme. Doing things first is exciting but difficult –we will(and have) made mistakes, but are learning last and nothing is more important at the moment than learning from what customers are telling us about what and how we are doing things.
Q: How would you describe the smart water industry from your view?
It is in its infancy in terms of tangible change, but there are many ideas and opportunities already in development and this will bring us from a Smart 1.0 (the planning phase) to Smart 2.0 (the implementation phase) to Smart 3.0 (operating and delivering smart water networks). Technology, infrastructure and excellent capital programme delivery is key to Smart 1.0 and 2.0, but people, data and analytics will get us to 3.0.And do not under-estimate the change it will need to get there.
Q: What will the conference attendees be able to learn from your presentation?
Communication, communication, communication. Cash is king. These are two old adages, but central to a smart metering deployment programme in water sector. I want to highlight the importance of this being a customer focused programme of work rather than purely an asset strategy that will reduce water demand and help take the pressure off our water resources in London and South of England.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you are currently facing?
Customer engagement is always hard, but when you are trying to access a customer’s home and install something that has been deemed compulsory it is even harder! But we are learning, listening and adapting and changes are starting to pay dividends. It is also forcing us to review our customer policies that go even further than just metering. As with any large capital programme we also have efficiency challenges to meet. We are getting creative and encouraging the company to look at this as a long term investment that can drive digital transformation across Thames Water.
Q: What improvements does the smart water industry need?
We need to accept that we are behind the curve already in terms of technology and infrastructure deployment and quickly focus on Smart 3.0 and where we want to get to. Only by doing this will we make strategic and technical decisions that see us through the next 5-10 years of smart metering and the potential move to Retail competition in the Household market.
Q: How do you see the smart water industry evolving over the next few years?
Joint ventures, partnerships (technical and strategic), working together, customer driven, BIG change!