Diverging the Path of Disasters in the Utility Sector

Diverging the Path of Disasters in the Utility Sector

Gov CIO Outlook | Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Utilities in urban areas are at risk since they are aging and the pressure exerted is multiplying by each day. The innovators in utilities sector are persuaded to invest more intelligence and technology into prevention of devastating impacts.

FREMONT, CA: In the last few decades, the intensity of urbanization has resulted in more than 80 percent population living in urban areas, with more than 60 percent from the 1950s. Due to aging utilities and public services, the current status of communities are subjected to the pressure of renovation and are on the verge of crossing over the threshold limit.

The turnover in the utility sector is predicted to be more impactful in the next few years and is likely to pose a severe threat to the safety of the public with the aging systems. It is no surprise that Local Distribution companies (LDCs) face formidable operational challenges regularly while ensuring safety for the public by reducing the rate of impact. More than $270 billion is being utilized for the control of methane leaks and enhance reliability.

State regulatory commissions and policymakers are expecting a continuum in the rise of utility performance as a byproduct of public safety concerns regarding gas pipelines. The primary issue that LDCs are clenching on to is ideas related to the understanding of the external risks affecting the system.

Using AI: 

With the help of AI and modeling, the physical world is mimicked to depict external threats forced upon the infrastructure. The application of AI in public services encourages the analysis and evaluation of hazards to identify and formulate preventive measures. Many areas of the sector have leveraged AI in novel ways for the identification of infrastructure related threats and the prevention of the risks in the most economical way possible.

Predictive technologies availed to recognize the growing risks and paradoxically reduce the rate or impact of the incidents are not implemented to the fullest due to the sluggishness of various entities from personnel to a systems malfunction. The primordial reason for the same is the structure and framework of the regulations in the utility sector, which has not evolved from its conception at the turn of the 20th century. 

The existing conservative cost-of-service structure does not incentivize the utility industry to participate in the experimentation or adoption of innovative solutions. A few states have taken the right step toward encouraging and providing incentives for investments in innovation, like considering cloud computing expenditure capitalization.

The collaboration between players of the private sectors and state public utility commissioners will be vital to pinpoint critical areas where the latest technologies can be applied to ensure safety.

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