Ensuring businesses have up-to-the hour energy consumption data
As experts in energy management solutions, EDP (Energias de Portugal) already had a platform that allowed their commercial partners to view dashboards, statistics and reports.
However, the opportunity for a more tailored implementation of the platform came about when EDP spoke to a restaurant chain that needed to get some energy efficiency insights. Something that kick started a research project led by the think tank ‘Institute for Tomorrow’ that aimed to understand what value as a business a franchise could extract from such a platform.
Employees, owners, managers and supervisors were all interviewed as part of the project. In fact, it was these interviews that formed the basis for the main project personas, that then led to the development of a number of user stories, and subsequently to the roll-out of a number of feature-led projects.
The first of these was to develop a weekly compilation of energy data. Key here was the ability to view the daily energy consumption of each individual smartplug, and the capacity to compare consumption by category and by time (weeks and months). The objective was all about gaining more visibility and granularity of detail into energy consumption habits, something that helped a franchise keep an eye on production costs and identify opportunities for improvement.
As this was a project focused on how to extract and use data, Whitesmith started by exploring what data was available and how it could be retrieved. Having this analysis then made it easier to suggest visual representations and define general areas for data display. A data mock-up helped visualise the full potential here, with various graphs, comparison charts and behavioural indicators used to bring the data to life. The mock-up also helped refine the design requirements and where EDP saw the overall vision for the project going.
From here, the project was arranged into modules of design and development that could easily function as standalone tasks. This meant that EDP got a fully agile approach to their work, and were able to see results more quickly from the Whitesmith team. It also meant reduced downtime for the Whitesmith team too!
The project had two main data analysis requirements - one for weekly reporting that depended on complex calculations, and one for ‘on demand’ consumption charts that drove key decision-making processes in establishments.
Although very different, both requirements were accommodated. The first was delivered via a weekly database update that was set up to support the calculation and presentation of reports. This allowed for more complex calculations to be run, and resulted in more comprehensive insights, as well as the ability for the team to ‘quick view’ the key metrics.
For the second, ‘on-demand’ requirement, data was set up to be retrievable when accessed for the first time and periodically thereafter when the user’s cache expired. This allowed the user to view live consumption charts and energy consumption statistics, both of which enabled quicker decision making for the restaurants’ teams.
Most of the data requirements involved a relatively straightforward display of energy consumption data. One of the projects, though, was for an interactive restaurant where a franchise’s branch wanted to see category consumption. The initial ‘top view’ display of the restaurant was therefore manipulated into a display of a two-story restaurant ‘side view’ where categories of smartplug were represented by rooms or objects with related ideas. These rooms/objects were additionally clickable, in order to view more detailed information on that category. Not only did this make it easy to recognise the categories, but it also meant that the overall design was visually appealing to the user.