Top 2020 Utility Trend: Machines Started Taking Over (In a Good Way)

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

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We heard a lot about automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) in 2020. These technologies have been helping utilities save time, save money, and increase safety. Here’s how.


Utilities are burdened with an overload of data that’s inaccurate or inaccessible, decreasing the efficiency of their inspection processes.


Artificial Intelligence took off in 2020. So did Machine Learning, which is a subset of AI where data engineers feed data to a machine and let the machine learn how to accomplish that task.

ML algorithms can now be trained to recognize issues during utility inspections. Data engineers annotate images of, for example, blown fuses and feed them into the model so it learns how to identify this issue—even at odd angles, in dim light, or on different backgrounds. The model continues to refine its abilities as more data is fed into it in real-life situations.

How does this impact your utility? Well, imagine that instead of looking at 1,000 of a relative’s vacation photos (including all the ones where their thumb covered the lens), you’re only required to ooh and aah over the 10 images that actually show the Eiffel Tower. In the same way, a utility can now use ML to cull through all its data and pull out only the most relevant images from inspections. Instead of looking through thousands of images, data analysts only need to analyze a small batch of images that are the most likely to depict issues.

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