Electric utilities are becoming increasingly adept at developing and communicating outage data / outage statistics to employees and customers. Unfortunately, this same level of sharing has so far not extended to other external stakeholders such as local government agencies and first responders. Doing so would be extremely beneficial to helping minimize the recovery time of any emergency, but the technology is not available to accomplish this in an effective and efficient manner. Until now, that is.
Options for Sharing Outage Data Externally
According to this Energy Central article, there are three technologies associated with real time, multi-agency outage data sharing.
- Screen scraping technology – This is a web-based software program that gathers on-screen information from multiple utility outage map pages. Unfortunately, this technology is difficult to maintain and does not produce real time, highly-accurate results.
- Point-to-point solution – This is where utilities take action to push outage data to a shared website or portal that external stakeholders can tap into.
- InfoXchange – Similar to a point-to-point solution, but would provide multiple levels of information: summary data for public consumption, and detailed data for use by first responders as well as local, county, state and federal agencies.
Obviously the best option for sharing outage data from many sources to many recipients is infoXchange, however this requires the development of a standardized outage messaging format. As you might expect, this is easier said than done, but the EPRI is making inroads by coordinating the Outage Data Initiative (ODI), which is designed to standardize outage messaging across participating utilities in 27 countries.
The primary goal of ODI is to reduce the need for verbal communication and make the sharing of electronic information more seamless. If successful, ODI should form the foundation of electric utility outage data sharing going forward.