Oct 2020
Gas Distribution
Oct 2020
May 2021
Northern Gas Networks, Cadent and Northern Powergrid
Steve Dacre
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Network Innovation Allowance
GD - Safety and emergency and Others
Stakeholder Engagement and Gas Distribution Networks
According to the Office of National Statistics, there are between 5,000 and 8,000 reports of doorstep crime per year in the UK (5,784 in 2017, 6,233 in 2018, 7,107 in 2019) Whilst these are instances where a demonstrable offence has occurred, it is estimated that only 5% of cases ever get reported so the actual number of attempts is certainly much higher. On average, a victim of doorstep fraud loses around £3,000, but it is the emotional and mental scars that become the bigger and longer-lasting impact, not to mention a loss of trust in even genuine officials who need access to the home. 65% of doorstep scam victims are aged 75 and over. Trading Standards put this figure even higher and state 85% of victims are aged 65 and over. Scams cost the UK economy up to £10bn every year.

Citizens Advice reports that nearly 20% of people have experienced attempted doorstep fraud and of the people surveyed, no one had taken any preventative measures to help protect themselves from doorstep fraud. Only 14% of people were confident they could identify a doorstep scam if it happened to them. Currently utility engineers attending a property typically show their ID badges to gain entry which appears to be often effective. However, the above outlines how an increasing number of customers are likely to have been victims of doorstep fraud and therefore may be less trusting of unknown visitors. It also shows there is an increasing risk that fraudsters may pose as utility staff in order to gain access to someone’s home - a scenario which people are not confident in being able to spot, are unlikely to report and are not well equipped to deal with. It is also possible that customer metrics within a utility company do not reflect the actual picture given the very low public reporting of this type of fraud across the sector.
Following on from a series of user stories to describe the required system functionality the objectives for each stage will be as followed:

Stage 1 :
  • Design and implement a robust data security model
  • Create a user administration portal
  • Develop the user administration functions within the admin portal
  • Develop a mechanism where failed identifications are reported to NGN/Cadent
  • Define and develop analytics requirements with NGN/Cadent

Stage 2:
  • Deploy a live customer web application
  • Design an accessible user interface
  • Develop robust technology fall-backs to accommodate older technology
  • Ensure that visitors can be identified within five seconds for facial recognition (and ten seconds for voice recognition)
  • Collect feedback through the customer app and NGN/Cadent staff survey

Stage 3:
  • Identify most appropriate trial area(s). Ideally on a adjoining Cadent and NGN patch
  • Make customers in trial areas aware of the availability of the DoorStop app
  • Gather and action defects and enhancements
  • Draft and deliver DoorStop trial report