Top 2020 Utility Trend: Electric Grids Got a Refresh

The following is an excerpt from our Expert Insights: The Top Utility Trends of 2020 & 2021 ebook. You can access the full report here.

Download the Ebook

Smarter cities require smarter grids, and smarter grids require smarter data collection and analysis. New and improved tech tools helped make this happen in 2020.


Forty-seven states (plus DC) took a total of 446 actions related to grid modernization in Q1 2020, reports the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center.

This is good news, except that modernizing the grid has been tougher than it should be because utilities rely on data from asset inventories to know what to modernize when, and manual inspection methods resulted in inaccurate data. Poles weren’t where they were supposed to be. Some poles in the database didn’t exist at all. Others did exist when the utility thought they didn’t.

Starting with this poor baseline made it difficult for utilities to prioritize their modernization efforts. After all, you can’t modernize what you don’t know you have.

Asset detail panel - Distribution - AI (1)-1


A handful of technologies advanced in step to make it easier for utilities to know what assets they have and what condition they’re in—making their modernization efforts faster and more successful

For example, LiDAR improved (and became less expensive), enabling more accurate data collection. Adoption of drone inspections also increased, meaning utilities started to get more, faster, and better information. And, as we discussed earlier, AI and ML platforms emerged that were able to take care of sifting through the data from various sources.

Download our ebook, Expert Insights: The Top Utility Trends of 2020 & 2021, to learn how you can take advantage of 2020 trends and 2021 predictions in data collection and GIS technology.

Download the Ebook