Vector taps IBM to anticipate power distribution problems

Vector and IBM subsidiary The Weather Company are teaming up to trial two techniques that will use artificial intelligence to anticipate problems that can impact Vector’s ability to deliver power to customers.

For the first technique The Weather Company will combine satellite imagery with other data sources and apply AI to identify and visualise locations around Auckland where vegetation might be a risk to the power lines.

Jamie Azzopardi, Australia and New Zealand head of The Weather Company, said the system would enable Vector to proactively deploy crews to manage specific vegetation in a more planned way to reduce the outage risk.

"In Auckland’s climate, vegetation can grow quickly, posing a threat to overhead power lines during storms, impacting homes, businesses and the safety of work crews and the community,” he said.

The second trial will aim to anticipate the risk of weather induced power outages up to 72 hours in advance by analysing data from previous storms and outages and combining this analysis with weather forecasts that update every 15 minutes.

Vector said the output from the system would supplement its existing response planning to either reduce the risk of the outage, or ensure resources were ready to respond.

Duncan Head, Vector’s group manager information and insights, said the company was confident the technology would make extreme weather events more manageable and less disruptive for customers.

“It will allow us to more accurately predict which areas will be most affected by individual storms, meaning we can proactively place our network crews in the right places during outages," he said.

• The Weather Company started life in 1982 as the Weather Channel. It was acquired by IBM in 2016. (It no longer owns the Weather Channel.) According to IBM it “delivers personalised, actionable insights to consumers and businesses across the globe by combining the world’s most accurate weather data with industry-leading AI, Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics technologieshellip;[to provide] newscasters, pilots, energy traders, insurance agents, state employees, retail managers and more with insight into weather’s impact on their businesses, helping them make smarter decisions to improve safety, reduce costs and drive revenue.”

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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