The key to safety is to bring data, technology, community outreach and action together as components of a single strategic plan. When this happens, both consumers and utilities benefit.
Prevention, Detection and Response
Classifying projects in terms of the risk life cycle — prevention, detection and response — is an important aspect of this process. For example, if a utility identifies encroaching vegetation as a risk factor in one of its service areas, it might develop a strategy that prioritizes preventive measures.
The utility would then need to complete a gap analysis that includes an evaluation of its existing vegetation management practices. This assessment might indicate significant return from technology deployments, such as drone inspections or comparative analysis of lidar data, to evaluate growth rates and fall-in dangers.
Next, the utility would identify high-impact prevention, detection and response projects that could be completed within established timelines and budgets. Finally, strategy and process could be merged with technology for each project, such as 3D vegetation survey data analysis, thermal cameras with artificial intelligence ignition detection, and community alert systems.
In addition, the utility might require technologies to produce what are more akin to real‑time data streams. These could include active project data, grid operational status, or informational data streams such as weather or fire science data. An effective portfolio strategy could be used to bring all these components into alignment with the utility’s overall business goals.
“When properly applied, technology has the potential to allow utilities to keep their stakeholders safe while providing resilient power,” Leffert says. “The key to safety is to bring data, technology, community outreach and action together as components of a single strategic plan. When this happens, both consumers and utilities benefit.”