By Brad Gammons
The energy grid is a 20th century engineering marvel and continues to be a core element of economic vitality for nations around the world. In order to continue to innovate, the utility industry must transform to meet the demands of new variable forms of energy and the shifting desires of how consumers use and interact with energy.
Investment is needed to transform the grid while continuing to deliver safe, reliable and cost-effective energy. This is a daunting challenge given the massive size of this infrastructure. Industry leaders are now beginning to use advanced data analytics to mine for vast amounts of data to help with this transformation.
One key advantage to a data-driven grid is that utility companies can manage their millions of assets far more efficiently to better anticipate risks and prepare for them accordingly. Using a strategic asset analytics system allows for detailed insight into the performance of virtually every piece of equipment. Traditionally, utility companies used a time-based management system that required network repairs to be made on schedule regardless of whether the asset needed to be updated. With an asset analytics management system, repairs are made only when necessary.
The data mined by utility companies could also be used to implement more dynamic pricing schemes in an effort to prevent service interruptions. For example, customers could receive financial incentives for reducing their energy consumption in a heat wave to help alleviate a potential blackout or brownout. This type of decision-making can only be possible from insights gained from reviewing the entire utility ecosystem.
Against this backdrop, today at the DistribuTECH 2015 Conference, IBM is introducing a new cloud-based analytics platform designed to provide a single view of analytics across the enterprise for energy and utility companies. IBM Insights Foundation for Energy delivers contextual awareness and visual insights that delivers increased reliability of energy transmission and distribution. The platform offers a single set of capabilities for analytics across the enterprise, driving rapid time to value and real business outcomes.
At the same time, we are introducing the Field Connect app developed by Apple and IBM to put the power of analytics and access to information and people in the hands of field workers, giving them real-time access to insight regardless of location or conditions.
Deeper insights through analytics on design, construction and operations holds great potential for the industry.