Social Connect.
Helping support 100,000 vulnerable people facing fuel poverty each year.

November 16, 2021


Social Connect is a truly unique UK Power Networks (UKPN) innovation project in collaboration with Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) and UrbanTide.

Social Connect is developing an innovative method for identifying vulnerable customers across London, South East and East of England, who are in or at risk of fuel poverty. This will allow UKPN to provide effective support to more vulnerable customers.

At the moment, UKPN works with local trusted organisations to reach roughly 800,000 vulnerable customers per year, of which 13,000 receive personalised support and guidance, from free information to help access relevant government grants to advice on lowering fuel bills. With the new approach developed in Social Connect, UKPN will increase the number of vulnerable customers who receive personalised support from 13,000 to 100,000 each year.

Working closely with ESC, UrbanTide’s uSmart platform is a starting point from which to develop a tool that can predict, on a street-by-street level, the prevalence of customers in or at risk of fuel poverty. 

The key data source being analysed in this project is from the Data Communications Company (DCC) smart meter system metadata. This contains information such as when emergency credit is activated or a prepayment meter is topped up. uSmart will bring these and other data sets together into one simple dashboard which gives an accurate picture of who may need help, especially in areas where people are less likely to come forward and ask for support.

“The pandemic has caused extraordinary challenges and meant hundreds of thousands may enter fuel poverty. They might not think to come and ask us for help, and we can’t predict what future challenges might come our way, but what we can do is use new technology to deliver more targeted and higher quality support to those who need it most. That’s exactly what this project is all about.”
- Ian Cameron, head of customer services and innovation at UKPN 

“The transition to a smart flexible energy system will provide great opportunities to better understand the trade-offs that households are having to make when struggling to afford adequate energy. By drawing on insight about behaviours, as well as smart data, this project pioneers methods that ensure fuel poor households aren’t left behind – by working with them to design support for them. This project will ensure that all consumers can benefit from the opportunities of the smart flexible energy future.”
- Dr Rose Chard, Fair Futures programme lead at Energy Systems Catapult

You can read more on this project:

Energy Systems Catapult: Artificial Intelligence project to help people facing fuel poverty

Energy Live News: Could AI hold the key to fuel poverty?



Start your journey

Talk to our team about how we can unlock data driven innovation for you and your organisation

See uSmart and our growing AI portfolio in action and find our how we can support your data and AI programmes

Back to top Arrow