Historical data can be used to solve problems/issues that continue to plague utilities over the course of years. Line-Loss, inefficient outage restoration, wasted fuel, too many estimated customers are all issues that utilities deal with every day. In many cases these are just scratching the surface of the issues facing the utilities. Geospatial Technology can bring these data points together and play a key role in limiting line-loss, being more efficient in outage restoration, moving to an AMI, and using AVL to recover fuel costs.

Watch the following video how Geospatial Technology is being used to solve problems based on historical data.

Geospatial technology is used to map patterns of humans. Whether it is for war-time purposes, tracking employees in company vehicles, tracking a criminal on parole, or keeping track of possible driving routes. In regards to an electrical utility geospatial technology really plays a big role in the interfacing of an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), Interactive Voice Response (IVR), Customer Information System (CIS), Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL), and an Outage Management System (OMS). As meters report back to the utility dispatch center they are now off, they are displayed in an OMS at which point outage predictions begin occurring allowing the decision makers to make faster decisions on restoration priorities.

In an outage situation these five components can work hand-in-hand to produce very informative information to the utility’s customers which increases the customer service. Most people do not realize on a normal every day basis how all these different components can be fit together like a puzzle to form a Geographic Information System (GIS). Utilities can use AMI, IVR, CIS, AVL, and OMS plus other technologies to improve efficiency in power restoration, decrease in the number of outages, customer service, bill pay, etc. Geospatial technology needs to be leveraged in every utility and too often utilities that do not have this technology do not have it because of the price tag. In most cases it is not as expensive as one might believe. It is matter of finding someone who knows how implement a GIS with current technologies already established at the utility.

Cutting costs is extremely important in today’s economic climate. There seems to be no end in site. The CEO, Superintendent, Board, or whom ever is responsible for cutting the costs of the utility looks to make very tough decisions every day and geospatial technology can be a very important tool in the tool belt to help make those decisions.

Utilities must become very lean to bring in a profit. There is wasted money in line loss, excess gasoline use, vehicles in disrepair due lack of maintenance, malfunctioning facilities, meters not being read properly, etc. These are all issues that can be solved with geospatial technology. These are areas an utility can see a relatively quick “Return On Investment” (ROI) with an implementation of geospatial technology. The Smart Grid, Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL)/GPS, Engineering Analysis solve these issues but geospatial technology brings all the data together to aid in the decision making.

The Smart Grid is becoming the norm throughout the United States with the push of the Green Energy initiatives from Washington D.C. Geospatial technology needs to be leveraged in such a way the massive amounts of data flowing to the decision makers of the utilities can be efficiently bundled to aid these individuals in their decision making.

One issue all utilities face is “Line Loss”. The Smart Grid is going to be able to send the utilities the data needed to reduce the line loss of their system but the question is this, will the utilities be able to decipher the data quickly and be able to implement a plan efficiently as well as quickly making the updates needed to the electrical system to reduce the line loss? The electrical utilities who embrace geospatial technology (a.k.a GIS) will be able to make these changes very efficiently seeing a greater Return On Investment (ROI) of their Smart Grid implementation in a shorter amount of time.

Watch the following video, Geospatial Revolution: Episode One from The Geospatial Project at Penn State. Allow yourself to vision cast how geospatial technology can begin to be implemented or enhanced in your utility.

I am going to be posting over the next few days a series of videos titled “The Geospatial Revolution”. These videos are produced by Penn State University and they lay out very effectively how geospatial technology is becoming ever increasingly needed for informed decisions.

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) basically are a big container holding the spatial data for the entire electrical utility. Another name for this is “Enterprise GIS”. Enterprise GIS allows the utility to become much more efficient in the collection, simulation, reporting, analyzing of the data than in the past. The decision makers can go to one location and grab all the data that is necessary to solve issues by making more informed decisions faster.

A GIS Example

As you can see there are many different sources of data which flow in and out of the GIS. If constructed properly the GIS can handle data from many different sources for many different purposes while creating a seamless product for the client who is accessing the data. Each department in the utility will use the data differently.

Operations could use the data for information on facilities in the field. Meter department could use the data for information on the meters and customers, data comes from the Customer Information System (CIS) /Billing. Engineering for staking and circuit analysis for line lose, fuse coordination, etc. Dispatch working with the data for outage restoration. Customers for online or via telephone bill pay as well as high level current outage information.

A utility can leverage the data in a GIS to not only increase efficiency in reporting, analysis, outage restoration but also improve their customer service. The Smart Grid is currently on top of us. The time is coming very rapidly when Washington is going to begin passing legislation to promote “Green Energy” initiatives. Having the Smart Grid in place will be a necessity for each utility to avoid penalties from the federal government. In order to make sense of the data being outputted by the Smart Grid all of its components a fully functional GIS is needed. The Smart Grid is much more than AMR/AMI metering, although very key to the Smart Grid. When there is data coming in not only from the meters but also from capacitors, reclosers, fusing, and transformers about the health of the system a GIS is imperative to organize the data for analysis in an effort to stay ahead of the curve.

As we move forward I will be discussing more about the impact of a GIS on the Smart Grid.

What is the Smart Grid? The following video defines it very well.

The future of electric distribution is the Smart Grid. In the not too distant future the federal government will be passing legislation that will require reporting and data collection in relation to the “Green Energy” initiative. Utilities need to be prepared for this legislation. To efficiently organize and distribute data from the Smart Grid a Geographic Information System (GIS) is imperative! In upcoming posts I will discuss the benefits and ROI (Return On Investment) to using a GIS as the hub for data collected from the Smart Grid.

Welcome to the my blog. I welcome comments to the posts. Thank you for stopping by.


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