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4 Reasons Utility Companies Need Location Intelligence

November 1, 2019
Utilities
By: Jason Holte

Digital Map Products is a Silver Member of the Esri Partner Network

As energy production and distribution evolve, utility companies must as well in order to meet the needs of a changing industry. Here’s how location intelligence can help.

For utility companies of all sizes, maintaining operational excellence is paramount. Keeping the power on within a service territory is an important task, but so are risk management, infrastructure maintenance, and compliance. The failure to perform timely repairs on an asset can result in an unplanned outage, but the failure to account for a hazard can have far more serious consequences, both in the short and long-term. It is essential that utility companies always have access to the most accurate data possible about their infrastructure and the surrounding area.

Wind Energy Turbine | Why Utility Companies Need Location Intelligence

Adding location technology and data to departmental workflows allows utility companies to perform essential tasks faster and more efficiently. Rather than gathering data related to a project themselves and then moving onto planning and execution, project teams can access the information they need remotely and leverage current, consistent data across multiple initiatives at the same time. Here are four reasons that an end-to-end location intelligence platform is essential for public utilities, municipal utilities, and energy cooperatives alike.

Why Utility Companies Require Location Intelligence:

Streamline Suitability Analysis

Many of the most pressing topics within the utility industry, including grid modernization and renewable energy production, call for large-scale capital projects in the near future. Whether analyzing a single site for a new piece of infrastructure or conducting a right-of-way project for hundreds of miles of new transmission lines, accurate location data is essential to the success of a project. 

For example, when negotiating easements or leases, a real estate team needs to know who owns every parcel of land under consideration and what sort of use each is zoned for. They’ll also want to review the transaction history for each parcel and identify comparative sales in order to determine a fair offer. Many utility companies gather this data directly from each county in which they operate, but this is a time-consuming process and can result in inaccurate, outdated information. A location intelligence platform built on robust property data will deliver current, accurate location information, allowing real estate teams to draw actionable insights from the data at their disposal.

Mitigate and Proactively Manage Risk

One of the most important jobs of a utility company is to fully understand how natural hazards may impact their infrastructure and service delivery. As we have seen within the last year, this is a massive undertaking that can have catastrophic consequences if not properly managed. In addition to property information, a location intelligence platform provides in-depth hazard data that can be used to evaluate risks associated with natural hazards, such as whether a property is susceptible to flooding. Further, updated aerial imagery (such as the Time View function in our map-based real estate application, LandVision™) can help utility companies monitor vegetation growth around power lines and other assets and deploy maintenance crews to areas that require attention.

Maintain Infrastructure

As mentioned above, infrastructure maintenance is crucial to service excellence. Utility companies that use a location intelligence platform to manage their infrastructure are able to map their assets and track any maintenance activities that are performed. Additionally, they can import and visualize any data captured by their Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to better predict what assets will need servicing (and when) and route technicians to the site of a potential problem. In conjunction with an effective risk mitigation strategy, this can help utility companies ensure consistent service delivery.

Communicate Within Service Territories

Timely communication with customers is an important, but often overlooked, aspect of utility services. Maintenance teams must be able to notify residents about any planned or unplanned outages that may impact their service. Likewise, marketing and customer service teams frequently need to communicate important information about energy efficiency, rebate programs, 811 services, and other required initiatives. This is another area that can be streamlined by a location intelligence platform. For example, if a transmission line requires maintenance, utility companies can simply trace the line being serviced, add a buffer to select all nearby properties that will be affected by the maintenance, and quickly generate mailing labels to notify property owners about the upcoming service. Similarly, marketing teams can utilize demographic overlays to target their outreach efforts around rebate programs for low-income households. By leveraging data as opposed to “spray and pray” communications tactics, utility companies can increase operational efficiency and ensure that the right customers are receiving the right messages at the right time.

Learn More

To learn how our location intelligence platform helps utility companies of all sizes across North America make more confident decisions, contact us today to request a free LandVision demo!

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