There's a popular saying in the world of electricity distribution that goes 'less iron and copper, more silicon and data'. This means that, in the age of Big Data and the Internet of Things, even energy providers are going down the road of innovation that the rapid development of technology has imposed on business and everyday life.
The age of digital innovation at Enel started more than a decade ago, on 4 November 2001 to be precise, when the first of the more than 32 million smart meters that now operating in Italy was installed in Pisa. Since then Enel's smart metering skills and solutions have been developed across the world, as have the uses of the digital technology that the Group has introduced to the distribution network.
Enel's digital strategy regards all areas of electricity generation and distribution, as well as final use. Each new smart solutions produces benefits for infrastructure management, from the technicians who work to ensure quality of service and the functioning of the grid, to consumers.
The benefits of digital technology in the management of distribution infrastructure range from the automation of primary and secondary sub-stations and on low and medium voltage lines to predictive maintenance. This innovation enables the modelling of smart grids and smart cities, which in Enel's vision are cities in which sustainable development objectives are part and parcel of providing high-quality services for customers. Enel's networks collect information that enable it to provide high-quality services to administrators and people in fields ranging from waste management to traffic, as well as allowing it to integrate into the grid the necessary solutions for a widespread use of electric mobility.
The quality of services and the sound management of operational staff is another area in which digitalisation has contributed. One of the most important examples of this is its global Work Force Management (WFM) system, which optimises processes and improves operational performance and offers products and mobile technologies to technicians.
Bringing together digitalisation and consumers is also part of the grid's technological evolution, and Enel is promoting active demand and developing devices that enable consumers to manage their consumption. These include Enel Info+, an initiative for residential and business on the low voltage network in the Italian province of Isernia, where digitalisation has already brought energy efficiency and therefore both lower consumption and bills.