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Big Data

The buzzword of the day is ‘analytics.’ But what does it mean?

Fortnightly Magazine - March 2012

Some companies, like DataRaker, are doing quite nice analytics on smart meter data, helping to see transformers that are overly stressed within the network.

Meyers, Telvent: The more times we switch, the more times we cycle, the more we have an impact on asset life. We have to have a balance. That’s kind of a new frontier. Data analytics are going to help us find that balance.

Valocchi, IBM: You’re seeing more smart devices out in the field. Whether they’re smart phones or smart tablets, [field workers can use them to] get to analytical information: the age of the asset, condition of the asset, things that have gone wrong on similar types of assets, and predictive analytics.

Devereaux, Oracle: The success of advanced distribution management is really about data and the accuracy of the network model, and the ability for you to trust the data that’s coming in from the different input systems. You build that trust and the sense of confidence in those models to some degree through analytics.

Wambaugh, UISOL: Very quickly I know exactly what my return on investment is going to be, as opposed to previous years when you didn’t have all the information. You just took a guess. You can do queries such as, ‘what’s the cost to establish a new service in my different service areas? Why am I seeing it cost three times as much in this area versus this other area?’

Lewis, Infosys: A guy named Bill Mann at DistribuTECH was talking about knowing types of trees. Pine trees are more likely to fall over in a wind storm than oak trees are. All that data can be assembled, analyzed, and used to predict where the most likely failures might be within the system. That’s a far-out example, but with all the tools that are becoming available, the far-out examples are going to become a reality.


Fortnightly: Let’s talk about analytics that help utilities on the customer side.

Lewis, Infosys: There’s a whole set of things that can be done for the benefit of the consumer by applying analytics. We’re seeing utilities expressing interest in using analytics to predict situations that will cause customer issues [such as outages]. If you know what’s coming down the road, then you can prepare by having proactive customer alerts.

Valocchi, IBM: There could be billing disputes that come from customers. Using technology, you can show the lineage of data, to point to errors or proof [about whether the customer’s bill correctly reflects] exact consumption.

Puckett, KEMA: A house is made up of a bunch of end uses, and it’s consumers’ behavior that makes us all unique. You and I could have the same kind of house and could have completely different energy profiles because of our own unique characteristics.

Hunn, Onzo: We’ve developed a range of clip-on sensors and energy displays that customers can self-install. We’re starting to put in new sets of algorithms to look at how efficient your appliances are. If we see consumption going up from a fridge, it’s probably an indication that the