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Information and data communications technology will be crucial to the operation of future electricity distribution networks. This will be mainly driven by the need to process and analyze increasing volumes of data produced by smart meters from residential and commercial customers, sensors monitoring the condition of network assets, distributed generation, and responsive loads. Complexity is further introduced as these diverse data-streams will be gathered at different rates and analyzed for different purposes such as near-to-real-time system state estimation and life-cycle condition monitoring analysis. However, the nature of active networks dictates that all relevant information will need to be exploited within the same operational framework. We are developing novel Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and high performance computing tools and techniques to enable near-to-real-time state estimation across large-scale distribution networks whilst concurrently supporting on the same computational infrastructure condition monitoring of network assets and advanced network restoration solutions. These platforms are promoting and supporting the emergence of new distribution network management systems, with inherent security and intelligent communications, for smart distribution network operation and management. We propose cost-effective scalable ICT solutions and initial investigation of realistic distribution network data traffic and management scenarios involving state estimation. Furthermore, we review the prospects for off-line trials of our proposed solutions in three different countries.