Aug 2018
Electricity Distribution
Centralock - remote access management system
Aug 2018
Aug 2020
Northern Powergrid
Sean Middleton
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Network Innovation Allowance
ED - Network improvements and system operability, ED - Safety and health and environment
Comms & IT, Health and Safety, Maintenance & Inspection and System Security
Access to network assets is a critical activity for networks - both ensuring that the right people have appropriate access at the right place and time and also in ensuring those who should not have access are kept out.
Our standard iron key approach is increasingly difficult to manage to meet this requirement. Additionally alternative technologies can potentially deliver a whole new range of useful capabilities alongside vanilla asset security.
Software enabled locking systems are available but do not provide the levels of flexibility or security that are required. Nor do they overcome many of the issues of the current iron keysets.
This project aims to further develop, modify and trial a system based on technologies currently used in the banking sector that may be able to address the shortcomings of the currently available approaches.
The project will deliver an assessment of the Centralock systems capabilities and its suitability to be deployed across a range of electricity and other utilities access management applications. The system’s capabilities will be assessed according to, but not limited by, the following:
  • General assessment of the standalone use of the system on remote sites which are isolated from standard office access control systems 
  • Assessment up to BSIA Grade 4 level of access control 
  • Assessment of operation in both stand-alone and centrally managed access control modes dynamically switching between modes under the control of the central management control suite
  • Assessment of the ability to fulfil a duty of care role by using a bespoke Smartphone application to stream live video to the control suite allowing users to be remotely monitored in hazardous conditions.
  • Complete mechanical testing up to LPS 1175 issue 7 (security standard) to levels SR 1 to 4 with two selected door sets (Apeiron and Epsilon ranges).
  • Confirm that security levels can be dynamically managed by the Management Suite and can have their firmware updated in-situ through the Smartphone 
  • Assess ability to retro-fit to Northern Powergrid's existing door sets from the Apeiron or Epsilon ranges 
  • Assessment of security of Centralock transmissions features: 
  • Encrypts all confidential data using 128-bit AES 
  • Transport Layer Security (TLS) between the Management Suite and the Smartphone 
  • Assess Bluetooth Low Energy link layer encryption between the Smartphone and the electronic lock 
  • Ensure that lost or stolen Smartphones can be centrally blocked by the management suite meaning no more site visits to change locks when a user loses their key 
  • Ensure that all legal and regulatory standards required to achieve CE compliance 
  • Assess quality assurance in terms of ensuring that PINs are generated by the system to ensure that they are unique and none have 3 or more repeating digits.
  • Development of a functional specification for remote access systems.
It is anticipated that an operational system, rolled out through the normal process of asset replacement, would save around 30% of the current replacement cost of the current system. This provides a saving of around £4m to the customer on each replacement cycle for Northern Powergrid.

In addition costs of ownership would be expected to fall and the current cost of replacement locks would be halved. This represents a further saving for Northern Powergrid of around £180k per annum across an entire life-cycle.

Both of these benefits would be reflected in lower operational costs and passed on to customers through the normal price control mechanisms.

Considering these benefits across the whole of the GB distribution network gives an estimated saving of around £40m over a lifecycle. Including transmission and gas networks would yield further customer benefits.

Additional benefits would also be available in customer service improvement through a reduction in restoration at times of extreme network stress. Also improved lone worker security and discouraging life-threatening, malicious trespass are additional tangible benefits that are difficult to value financially.