In recent years, Fingrid’s ICT unit has been looking for ways to address the changing needs of the electricity network and sought to understand what the change will mean for the main grid on a practical level. According to Kari Suominen, Fingrid’s CIO, most of the new requirements have been identified, and a lot will happen over the next couple of years.
“In two years’ time, we will already be in a new world: we will have the systems ready to begin using a 15-minute Imbalance Settlement Period, and the elements for real-time system control will begin to be ready in other regards. The Datahub system, which is Fingrid’s largest information system investment, will go live in early 2022.”
According to Suominen, the most important insights have been gained in the last two development projects.
Effective data management screens out the relevant data
“The project to develop digital monitoring solutions for substations forced us to rethink our approach to data. Monitoring solutions that exploit IoT technologies produce enormous volumes of data, and the relevant information must be picked out for the end-user in real time.”
Fingrid’s ICT unit has recently been focusing on developing data management in order to enable new systems to be developed and operated. One major challenge is to combine the data streams from Fingrid’s systems with external systems and provide relevant information in a way that is easy for different stakeholders to understand.
“In the future, network partners, ranging from operating activities to electricity markets and asset management, will make use of our data platform and the real-time information it can provide.”
The development of the data management model for stakeholders has already resulted in higher-quality customer data and better availability of the open data service.
the DoIT methodology encourages developers to ask the customer
Another project that has driven the ICT operating culture forwards was the project to modernise the service portal for customers.
“The original goal was to replace the old customer extranets with a new user interface. However, when we analysed our customers’ needs, we hit upon an entirely new need, which we set out to address. The outage planning service was the first service to be launched on the new customer portal. Development was based on closer dialogue with customers, and the service was made in intensive sprints with external service providers,” Suominen says.
Although Fingrid’s various units have long used modern service development methods, a tailor-made methodology for the business environment of a transmission system operator was lacking. The DoIT service, which was launched in January and productised on the basis of the lessons learned during the development of service portals, has addressed this need.
“In DoIT teams, services are implemented by collaborating with service providers to address business needs, and the teams make use of the latest cloud technology, among other technologies. We are able to create visible results rapidly, and the product is constantly evolving, rather than relying on large one-off updates,” Suominen says.
According to Suominen, customers have been satisfied with the services created by DoIT, and they have been happy to be included in the development work. Many functionalities were realised in dialogue with customers.
“For example, customers can sign in to our customer portal with their own organisation’s user credentials. Information on users’ access rights is automatically updated between our systems and our customers’ systems, which also improves information security.”
Active dialogue improves information security
The role of information security as a part of ICT has also changed. According to Jyrki Pennanen, Fingrid’s Information Security Manager, one concrete example of this is the information security audit. Previously, information security audits were conducted on completed software, but now, information security specialists in DoIT teams – whether internal or external personnel – are included in service development from the very beginning.
“This also makes things easier for the business, as there are no surprises – pleasant or otherwise – in the final stages of the project. In the worst cases, it has come to light that a new system that we have acquired cannot be placed inside our architecture in a way that would ensure information security,” Pennanen says.
According to Pennanen, more dialogue is needed with other energy sector parties. The development that is underway in the sector and the consequent interlinking of systems will increase the number of potential security vulnerabilities.
“The operation of the grid is increasingly based on complex technology. When we design new services for the sector, we need to work in cooperation with other operators in the energy sector. We aim to identify systems that are suitable for everyone and, above all, common operating methods to ensure information security in all circumstances.”