IBM J. Res. Dev

OPRO: Precise emergency preparedness for electric utilities

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Electric utilities spend a large amount of their resources and budget on managing unplanned outages, the majority of which are driven by weather. The weather is the largest contributing factor for power outages faced by the population in the United States and several other countries. A major ongoing effort by utilities is to improve their emergency preparedness process, in order to 1) reduce outage time, 2) reduce repair and restoration costs, and 3) improve customer satisfaction. We present an approach called Outage Prediction and Response Optimization (OPRO) to improve emergency preparedness by combining a) localized and highly accurate weather prediction, b) damage prediction, c) infrastructure health-Aware damage hotspot analysis, and d) optimal resource planning. The combination of these capabilities can enable utilities to initiate their storm preparation process 1 to 2 days in advance of the storm and precisely plan their resource schedules and escalation stance. This would be a profound change to the business process of utilities, which today tends to be reactionary once the storm hits. We describe these capabilities and their effectiveness in terms of metrics relevant to a utility, the related use cases, and the overall business process that brings them together in the context of a real U.S. utility.