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The Weather Company Vegetation Management

Source(s):  IBM Corporation

By Mahesh Sudhakaran

The Weather Company Vegetation Management – Predict solution combines AI and analytics to help utility companies reduce risk while improving reliability, operational efficiency and customer satisfaction

For utilities with a large percentage of overhead conductors, vegetation management is a serious challenge. Trees and branches colliding with utility lines, poles and other assets can cause not only a significant number of power outages, but are increasingly responsible for other dangers as well. If a tree grows too close to a power line, a single spark from a broken cable or a branch falling into the line can soon lead to a wildfire.

As global climate change continues to create rapidly-shifting weather patterns and stronger, more frequent storms, utility and energy companies must adapt vegetation monitoring and maintenance operations to keep systems functional and customers happy.

The high costs of tree trimming

Traditional approaches to vegetation management can be both expensive and labor intensive, relying primarily on manual analysis and regular trimming cycles. The only insight you may have into vegetation growth is the last time an area in your territory was trimmed.

But certain species – such as willows or cottonwoods – can grow from seeds to dangerous heights in just a few years, possibly between monitoring cycles. Other factors that cause growth rates to vary can include weather conditions, soil moisture, health and herbicide applications, making it difficult to track the development of trees in your territory without exhausting your inspection crews.

As budget pressures require utility companies to do more with less resources, the industry is seeking new, cost-effective solutions to these challenges.

Actionable insights for vegetation management

The Weather Company Vegetation Management – Predict solution helps utility providers address the high costs and inefficiencies of vegetation management by better assessing the current state of vegetation in their service territory.

The solution is designed to enhance visibility into the current state of vegetation across your service territory, including the location and height of trees that could encroach on power and utility lines. This insight helps you:

  • Reduce vegetation-related outages by using data to identify potential hazards and allocate resources to areas that are most likely to impact grid reliability.
  • Enhance monitoring to identify unexpected “cycle buster” growth rates that may present a potential risk and refine trimming cycles to focus on areas that need it most.
  • Improve contracting processes with greater visibility and insight into how much trimming and maintenance work is required and when it needs to be done.
  • Audit your vegetation management programs by remotely monitoring plants that have been trimmed or treated with herbicide applications.

How it works

The Weather Vegetation Management – Predict solution is built on IBM PAIRS Geoscope, a cloud-based platform designed to exploit massive geospatial-temporal datasets. Every day, PAIRS Geoscope ingests up to 10 terabytes of new satellite, aerial and weather data to create a catalog of carefully indexed, diverse and continuously-updated geospatial-temporal information. Users need only to provide a geospatial file with an accurate view of their infrastructure and the desired buffer zones between those assets and vegetation.

By analyzing this data, the solution automatically identifies and alerts users about potential outage threats in their territory. The solution also highlights any vegetation that breaches your predetermined buffer zones so you can take action. These insights are presented through shapefiles or raw textual data and are accessible through APIs that can be integrated into existing systems such as – but not limited to – GIS.

The potential benefits of the solution include:

  • Increased operational efficiency by reducing spend on expensive resources such as manual audits, drones and LiDAR while also prioritizing high-risk areas.
  • Improved risk assessment by prioritizing and refining operations to help reduce unexpected vegetation conditions that may impact system reliability.
  • Faster time to value through accelerated, data-driven analysis and actionable insights for your service territory.

To learn more about how The Weather Company Vegetation Management – Predict solution can help you increase efficiency in vegetation management while improving customer satisfaction, schedule a demo today



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  • Publication date 06 Feb 2019

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