Consulting firms help Ghana with early warning systems

12 August 2014

Royal HaskoningDHV and HKV have been appointed by UNDP to develop disaster risk and early warning systems for Ghana. The project, to be completed in 2015, will be implemented by Ghana’s National Disaster Management Organisation and funded by the Norwegian Government.

Every year, thousands of people in Ghana are threatened by natural disasters, such as floods and droughts. For instance, in 2010 heavy rainstorms caused massive floods which killed dozens of people, made more than 700,000 people homeless and caused direct damages worth millions of dollars. To reduce the country’s vulnerability to extreme climate events, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has recently decided to launch an initiative to develop a so-called ‘early warning system’. “We are supporting the Government of Ghana to become a climate resilient nation and to reduce human losses and damages caused by floods and droughts,” says Rene da Silva, UNDP’s Deputy Country Director in Ghana.

Water Africa

Early warning project
The early warning project will consist of the deployment of the latest state-of-the-art technology to forecast climate hazard events. These forecasts will provide the authorities with increased time to take action, thus saving lives and reducing the social and economic damage caused by floods and droughts. The UNDP-project will cover 9 districts, including, among others, the metropolitan districts of Accra, Kumasi and Cape Coast and the city of Techiman, home to millions of Ghanaians. 

Disaster risk and early warning systems
UNDP has appointed international engineering and project management consulting firm Royal HaskoningDHV and HKV, a Dutch consulting firm specialising in water and safety, to lead the development of the disaster risk and early warning systems. “Our team was chosen because of our expertise in this field and our local knowledge and presence”, says Willem Kroonen, Royal HaskoningDHV’s senior project manager. The consortium will assess both the current situation as well as future scenarios, taking into account climate change and autonomous developments, and design a master plan for the early warning systems.

In addition, they will prepare an inventory of the gaps and needs in data, knowledge and structures. The plan will combine rainfall prediction, model simulation and geographic information to provide regionalised forecasts. The UNDP-project will also evaluate international drought forecasting initiatives and factor in regional vulnerabilities to provide timely warnings for climate events which could threaten food supply to large parts of Ghana. An integral part of the project will consist of capacity building and knowledge transfer.

NADMO - Dry Africa

Local expertise
The two engineering- and consulting firms will work together with SNV Ghana, a non-profit development organisation, and local experts. Together they will assess the risk of natural disasters at the national level and for the mentioned cities and districts. The project, that is expected to be completed in August 2015, is funded by the Norwegian Government and falls under the mandate of Ghana’s National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO).

Project in Ghana
It is the second time in a short timespan that a consortium of consulting firms is hired to assist Ghana with a project that can potentially save thousands of lives. Earlier this month, consulting firms Witteveen+Bos and Berenschot, and non-governmental health organisation Simavi were awarded a contract to provide Technical Assistance to the Ghana-Netherlands WASH Programme.


How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.