CASE STUDY: Amplified Data Helps Leading Utility Meet Its Storm-Hardening Deadline

The following is an excerpt from our Enriching Data, Empowering Action whitepaper. You can access the full report here.

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After two-thirds of Florida lost power during Hurricane Irma in 2017, the state government introduced storm-hardening regulations to help prevent massive outages in the future. These regulations require inspections to determine the condition of electricity distribution poles and their components, wind-loading analyses to make sure the poles can withstand hurricane-force winds, and hardening of the system where needed.

To comply with storm-hardening regulations, utilities typically rely on ground-based inspections. But if the utility did this, it would risk not completing the storm hardening by the government deadline of 2025, since it can take weeks to inspect each feeder. Manual inspection methods can also produce insufficient and inaccurate data on inventory and the condition of poles.

storm damaged utility pole

That’s why the utility partnered with PrecisionHawk to amplify its asset data. PrecisionHawk developed a customized, fully integrated data value chain solution that included:

  1. A flight plan and technology portfolio; since the utility had been using manual inspection methods for years, PrecisionHawk couldn’t rely on the company’s records and needed to recollect.

  2. A vegetation encroachment warning system.

  3. Data captured using drones outfitted with RGB cameras and LiDAR sensors. 

  4. Machine vision technology for change detection and to identify areas of concern.

  5. A wind-loading analysis using PoleForeman.

  6. Actionable reports and images from PrecisionAnalytics showing the location and condition of each asset.

Tagged pole

The high-resolution imagery was used to produce a model of every pole that was so ultra-high fidelity that PrecisionHawk was able to identify cracks and holes and calculate their impact on pole integrity. Using the data collected and analyzed by PrecisionHawk, the utility determined that:

  • 7 percent of the assets the utility thought were in the field were not in the field.

  • 10 percent of the assets the utility thought were removed had not been removed.

  • 40 percent of poles were located more than five feet away from where the utility’s database had them located.

  • Some poles were as far away as 50 feet or more from the utility’s database record.

Thanks to PrecisionHawk’s end-to-end data solution, the utility has been able to quickly address imminent issues, and now has an accurate record of their distribution assets—which will speed up the utility’s storm hardening initiative and streamline future inspections and repairs.

The bottom line: by deploying PrecisionHawk’s data solution, enterprises can improve every step of their inspection process—from collecting data to deploying repair crews.

Download the full Enriching Data, Empowering Action whitepaper today to learn how data-powered decision-making can help you reduce downtime, increase safety, and lower costs.

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