UK Power Networks Services is set to test a technology that will enable engineers to access and control Heathrow Airport’s electricity network remotely.

Funded by Innovate UK, the project aims to assess the creation of a remote offsite access for Heathrow Airport’s electricity distribution network, meeting all necessary security requirements.

It will involve assessing ‘mixed reality’ technologies, including the use of geo-fencing and a cyber perimeter to secure the network. The company will also evaluate the use of biometric scanning such as facial recognition for authentication and authorisation.

If successful, the project will help in meeting social distancing protocols, minimising the risk of Covid-19 transmission among staff while ensuring reliable power supplies at the airport.

In addition, the project will assess the feasibility of rolling out the technology to other airports across the UK, as well as for other critical operations.

UK Power Networks Services engineering head Steven Muscat said: “We believe this study will provide both UK Power Networks Services and Heathrow Airport with some insight into what a smarter remote operating system of the electricity networks might look like.

“Large industrial operators across the UK will also be keen to understand how to maintain the integrity of their electricity network to the highest standard while operating in an environment that is constrained due to Covid-19 distancing measures.”

Currently, Heathrow operates a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system to access and monitor the airport’s electricity supplies.

Earlier this month, Heathrow Airport introduced several measures to minimise Covid-19 contagion risks at the airport.