Forecasting demand for utilities provision

Utilities

Client

Victorian utility provider

Challenge

A 'patchwork’ approach to data which was inefficient and confusing.

Highlights

A new corporate resource comprising of a single source of independent population forecasts and a spatial analysis platform.

Results

Analysts are able to ‘get under the hood’ without the need for costly consultants to interpret the data for them.

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This utility provides water, recycled water and sewage services to one of the fastest growing regions in Victoria. They use .id SAFi forecasts of population and dwelling growth to help determine the timing, size and location of future infrastructure investments. They need reliable, complete and easy-to-use forecasts that support their analysis, and allows them to understand the dynamics of growth.

The utility engaged .id to provide consistent long-run forecasts, specifically tailored to the small areas within the utility’s service region. A single-source data strategy, together with the functionality of the .id Placemaker spatial application, greatly increased the usability of their population projections.

The business challenge

The utility provides water, recycled water and sewage services to one of the fastest growing regions in Victoria. Already servicing over 150,000 people across 58,000 properties, rapid housing development is bringing more and more people to the region every year. Over the past decade the population has grown by close to 4% per annum.

In a market expanding at pace, accurately forecasting future system demand, and the optimal timing, size and location of future network infrastructure investment, becomes a major challenge. Precise and timely predictions of both population and dwelling growth are essential.

In that context, the utility were concerned that a ‘patchwork’ approach to data was holding them back. Their models relied on a variety of data sources, each of them drawing on different methodologies and geographical boundaries. With information from state and local government sources, as well as anecdotal information from developers and the community, painting a consistent picture of the future was a substantial challenge.

A patchwork of methodological methods also ends up hiding a variety of assumptions beneath the output data. This decreases the usefulness of the ultimate forecasts, and also impeded the utility’s ability to stress test their demand models themselves.

The .id solution

The utility turned to .id and the powerful .id Placemaker application. .id Placemaker is a web-based platform that combines .id SAFi population forecasts with specific business data and state of the art visualisation technology.

In this way, the utility was able to replace a cumbersome data forecasting process with a single, easy-to-use resource.

Leveraging the SAFi (Small Area Forecast information) dataset, .id were able to construct independent and consistent forecasts for dwelling and population growth, specifically matched to the utility’s service area.

The utility also drew on .id’s expert opinion to help understand the impact of in-fill development and how the Precinct Structure Plans (PSPs) would develop. This gave greater definition to the dwelling forecasts, and helped the utility’s analysts understand the dynamics at play.

Outcomes

With .id SAFi and the .id Placemaker application, the utility was able to construct an entirely new corporate resource – a set of high-quality, independent forecasts for both population and dwelling growth, specifically tailored to their market.

These forecasts offered unprecedented definition, detailing 355 small areas within the broader service region, and allowed the utility to push their forecast horizon out to 2036.

What’s more, with a single consistent source behind the data, and the functionality of the .idplacemaker application, the utility’s analysts were able to ‘get under the hood’ and understand for themselves where the top-line forecasts were coming from.

Ultimately, with a single data source and without the need for costly consultants to interpret the data for them, the utility was able to gain access to a much better and more useful product.

Using .id data, already well respected in the public service, further cemented the credibility of their analysis.

Learn more about .id’s services for business applications.

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