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Discussion Starter #1
On the Leaf Talk web-site there has been a discussion of developing an App to report Rapid Charger - a very worthy idea - BUT! This is the post that EV Matters has made suggesting the proposal is analogous to using a sticking plaster to plug a leak in the proverbial dyke! I thought it worth repeating here!

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I would like to step back from discussing the 'solution' to an 'issue' - and make a link to other things we have been discussing on this site.

From a 'systems engineering' perspective, functionality (as proposed by Craig) should be relate to a User Requirement. That's a requirement that 'users' have identified (for safe efficient operation of an EV) and for which there is (or is not) a recognised technical solution. The current proposal has simply raised an 'issue' about a 'functionality' related to a 'user requirement' - none of which exists?

So, if we step back and think about what was the 'requirement' - we may discover a lot of other requirements, under a heading of 'Data Exchange', for which there (or are not) working solutions? If you start to think about what 'charging data' is required, by whom, when describing the EV 'charging infrastructure'? Who can originate it, where should it be stored, who can change it and who can modify 'attributes' - is it serviceable and available - or not? Surely readers will see that we have to really understood the problem fully to ensure we are fixing the right problem?

I believe that we need all this data in a single, public domain and that the data should be 'available' for publication and use (Craig's APP is only one instance). The whole aspect of the maintenance of this data in real time should all be against valid 'user requirements' and certain stakeholders should be under an obligation to maintain the data. Put that differently, charge point operators must be obliged to publish (within secs/minutes) any unserviceability and to make it available to the common data repository. The data could be rebroadcast in the proposed App, for example. If there are 'attributes' on 'user observation - then these are complementary to the 'owners data?

I hope that I have not complicated the issue too much - these things are 100 time easier on a whiteboard!

To summarise - the UK EV infrastructure is being established in direct confrontation of systems engineering principle - that have existed for many many decades. It beggars belief that we are watching £10s millions of Tax Payers money being use to build a 'complex system' - without following the normal engineering processes. That process starts with 'requirements', this will lead to some form of 'functional model' leading to an 'engineering model(s) - from which we can derived the system functionality and understand what is to be translated into system components. One element of the system engineering viewpoints would be a 'data model' and there would be further requirement as to the distribution of all the data.

Its quite ludicrous that that this stage of the EV infrastructure evolution that we know nothing (almost nothing) about national, European and global standardisation of EV data. Right now the EV industry is engineering-in 'incompatibility'. Little is known about UK infrastructure operators who are exploring inter-operability - there are some (no names) - but I am certain (high probability) that no organisation, in UK, is addressing European EV inter-operability? (Please correct me?). There are undoubtedly European Programmes looking at such aspects - but Britain has its telescope to it blind eye!

If EV Users and Owners do not demand a full engineered EV infrastructure - then the chaos will be perpetuated!

In the view of EV Matters the availability of charging resources is accelerating; however, EV user dissatisfaction is rising much, much faster. Finding more chargers on the motorways encourages drivers to travel more; however, the probably to achieving a multi-charge journey is extremely low. For example on my trip to Warwick (EV Event), on Saturday, both chargers on my N bound route were U/s and neither had redundancy. I won't elaborate her - but without experience (and lateral thinking) - the trip could have had be abandoned. Please do report back on your experience?

We considering the UK EV infrastructure, I am reminded of an old wartime-saying: 'Its SNAFU'! (Situation Normal - All F***fed-up)!

Drive ON ! (if you can)
 

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Tried to write this many times but keep going off on a big rant, giving it one last shot to summarise my thoughts on what is, without doubt, a real mess.

UK infrastructure is back to front, I think a great deal of this can probably be put down to the fact it has not been consumer-led, in fact it seems borderline impossible for us, the consumers, to be able to get our views into those in power.

There's many-fold issues with the charge infrastructure - rapid chargers seeming unreliable, lack of enforcement for "slow" charging EV spaces, too many confusing and competing card networks, too many "standards" all competing... it's crazy.

Communication is another problem, charge maps, apps and all kinds of things in-between. People keep taking stabs at an "all in one" solution before standing back and thinking. As a designer with a great deal of experience with "ux and ui" it frustrates me people seem to be jumping up left right and centre to create things "because they can", without checking if they should, and if anyone can understand what they're doing and why. Design will save the world and all that. ;)

Tesla are doing great things, they're doing what they want based on their beliefs and are CLEARLY (as a commercial venture that wants to sell EVs and EVs only) thinking of the consumer demands first, and very carefully. As a result they're riding above the noise which is putting them in an enviable position... I can't wait for them to hit the UK with a vengeance!
 

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I did a quick blog on why I felt this was well-meant but ultimately a total waste of effort...
http://purplemud.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/charger-status-text-notification.html

For me this shows just how desparate EV drivers are. We are prepared to create solutions to address our issues without proper investigation, analysis, design and without consulting the important interested parties. Why? Because no one else is doing so.

CraigIX says he wants access to the data from OLEV but as far as I am aware the data he wants access to just does not exist. There is no central database of chargers let alone the status of each. OLEV do not know which chargers are working, which are not or when a charger is used or not. You would imagine that as OLEV has spent so much of our money that they would have control, or at least knowledge of, the assets purchased with it... they don't!

I stand the risk of being dubbed as negative but in my opinion OLEV is a complete shambles from an EV driver perspective and they are responsible for wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer's money with the way they are doleing out money willy-nilly without controlling how it is spent. Yes, it is good we have more chargers but it is a crying shame that so many are either the wrong type for their location or ICEd all the time or broken.

I believe that developing our own systems, such as CraigIX is doing, is not in our interests. The systems are sticking plaster at best (as EV Matters says) or just won't work at worst and it diverts all our attentions away from the real issues at stake... that is OLEV starting to be more responsible with our money and delivering systems that benefit all EV drivers.

OLEV must develop a central public charger database with real-time status updates for all publically available chargers. It must be properly designed and developed to meet the needs of all. As drivers we cannot do that. It needs hundreds of thousands in funds, professional systems developers and the enforced cooperation of the charging network operators, manufacturers and other parties involved if it to be done properly.

Registration on this database and real-time updates must be made compulsory for all public access chargers. Regardless of network. They must also then allow public access to this data via a published API.

I applaud CraigIX and the others for wanting to contribute and improve the lot of the EV driver but their SMS system, in my opinion, won't help and could make things worse and so I suggest instead that we should be concentrating on organising through the EVDA-UK and engaging with OLEV to force them to start living up to their public responsibilities and developing the data systems we need.
 

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As far as I know, most of them do report status but they report to the network operator that owns them. They are different companies and so they are very defensive and protective of their data. They consider it proprietary and commercially valuable and in spite of many approaches to the likes of CYC and others they refuse point-blank to make their real-time data available either to each other or to the public.

There is also the issue that they report via the GPRS network and so if they are in an area of bad mobile signal they can lose connection and then they don't report back and teh network centre cannot reset them either. I don't know what the solution to this one is as it is impractical to put a landline to every charger. This one alone may make the reality of universal real-time updates impossible... or at least difficult and/or expensive. I just don't see it happening for many yaears... if at all.

There is no central database. OLEV did commission a proof of concept project with Pod point for a National Chargepoint Database. It completed a year or so ago and it didn't go past that stage.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Paul said,
"... I suggest instead that we should be concentrating on organising through the EVDA-UK and engaging with OLEV to force them to start living up to their public responsibilities and developing the data systems we need."

I agree entirely and to make the point I think the EVDA-UK should boycott the Call for Evidence and demand that full and appropriate communication channels be established, and maintained, in order that the Requirement of Users carry equal weight with other EV Stakeholders!

I have reported what happened with the review of the PiP and PiCG - EV owners and drivers were deemed to be a pretty contented bunch and whose recommendations are incredibly benign. It was a conjuring trick that shouldn't be repeated!

Drive ON!
 
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The reason why companies are installing chargers with backhaul links is because they do intend to show live status. That is what is being demanded by the car manufacturers. It hasn't happened yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
The reason why companies are installing chargers with backhaul links is because they do intend to show live status. That is what is being demanded by the car manufacturers. It hasn't happened yet.
If a charger is part OLEV-funded, it is totally inappropriate for car manufacturers to make bi-lateral with agreements with charge point manufacturers for discrete data exchange. As 'users' that data is an important aspect of the 'service'. It is after all our safety and security that is affected; furthermore, as Tax Payers we would expect the responsible Govt Agency to insist on openness on the data that is available. There may be a case for keeping maintenance data discrete - that might be of use to a competitor.
No one should be naive enough to think that charge points should remain free; however, availability and eligibility has nothing to do with charging. I have a suspicion that with Fast Chargers, they would do offline, simply because the communication were offline. That should not happen - but the criteria should have been contained on the contract and verified as part of the acceptance test.
Drive ON!
 
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