At Distributech 2019 a new entrant IQGeo emerged into the utility and communications space and announced an alternative to traditional GIS. myWorld Capture is a mobile solution that prioritizes direct data maintenance from the field. Building on an open source geospatial platform that supports data versioning and interfaces to legacy utility/communications GISs such as ArcGIS and Smallworld, myWorld provides tools that make it possible to develop and maintain a high quality near real-time GIS with the information that is required for a complete network asset data model including equipment location, descriptions, connectivity, condition, and status.
With FAA rules permitting beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) UAVs available through Part 107 waivers the cost of capturing the data required for vegetation management for power lines, whether transmission or distribution, could drop dramatically. However, manual post processing of the imagery to identify areas of vegetation encroachment, grow-ins and fall-ins, remains an error prone, tedious and time consuming process. I have come across several firms (for example EPRI, SiteSee, Trimble RealWorks) over the years that have been working towards automating the process for identifying vegetation encroachments including grow-ins and fall-ins, but I have not encountered a utility that is using this technology operationally. At Distributech 2019 in New Orleans I had a chance to chat with a startup Enview, based in San Francisco, who described to me how their software has been implemented over 7,000 miles of transmission lines last year to automate the identification of vegetation encroachment from LiDAR point clouds. Furthermore, they expect the total distance covered to double this year.
One of the challenges of disaster response for utilities is situation assessment which involves sending utility personnel to the areas affected by a storm to assess the state of utility infrastructure. Skilled staff are often in short supply at such times and office and other staff without field experience are often assigned to perform damage assessment. These staff find it difficult to perform a reliable situation assessment because of unfamiliarity with the equipment they are looking for. At Distributech 2019 in New Orleans Rodney James of Duke Energy and John Simmins of EPRI described research they have been doing to use augmented reality (AR) to help with damage assessment by using specially equipped glasses to superimpose a map of the utility's infrastructure on the real world making it easy for an inexperienced staff member to see where equipment has been destroyed or otherwise affected by a storm. 2b1af7f3a8