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Finding focus in the storm - part 2: Outages

June 23, 2023


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Per this article in weather.com, almost all power outages have some relation to a weather or climate event (although, one of our clients emphasized the challenges of squirrels, too). An article in Time Magazine notes that more frequent and severe natural disasters are leading to longer blackouts, and that more power disruptions are expected due to climate change.

In the face of increasing outages, a small but powerful addition to real-time response processes can make a big difference: photos, coupled with multi-modal artificial intelligence.

When a storm hits, the volume of calls (and possibly texts, emails, and form fills) coming into a utility can skyrocket. It can be difficult to find the situations that require immediate attention out of the mass of data generated by that inflow of information.

Multi-modal artificial intelligence can analyze data from audio, text, and images. AI can quickly highlight the issues that need immediate attention, helping crews prioritize their work amid the chaos caused by a storm.

Photos further help prioritize response efforts by providing specifics, such as:

  • Is there a wire down?
  • What's the size of the branch or tree on a wire?
  • Is a pole cracked or broken?
  • Where is the location of the fault?

This information not only helps inform where to send crews, but also the skills and equipment required.

"The information you get from callers confirms the outage information you're seeing from SCADA or AMI. And sometimes it supplements it because... if a person is calling saying 'hey, here's a tree,' that's the source of your problem. It helps you troubleshoot." - Mark Petty, Kirkwood Electric, MO

Read more about the value of photos in outage response, along with real examples, in our tip sheet, "From voice to vision."

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