Vector is going to start using artificial intelligence to predict where storms will cause power outages.
The Auckland lines company has partnered with IBM to pilot the new system, a first for the country, next month.
It uses satellite imagery and artificial intelligence to show areas where trees might be encroaching on power lines. It can then suggest the locations most at risk of outages.
Vector already uses artificial intelligence to manage electricity demand and network data across its network, since it partnered with Israeli technology company mPrest in 2017.
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Vector’s group manager of information and insights, Duncan Head, said the new system would “allow us to more accurately predict” which areas would be most affected by storms. The company would then be able to place its network crews in the right places.
Wild weather often leads to scattered power outages across Auckland.
“This solution would help Vector identify issues before they happened and provide another opportunity to work with tree owners on how to remove the risk before it impacts the community,” said Head.
Jamie Azzopardi, Australia and New Zealand head of the Weather Company, the IBM business that provides the technology, said it would allow Vector to deploy its crews more proactively.
“By leveraging multiple data sources, we are able to create actionable insights so Vector can gain the upper hand on unruly trees, better plan for severe weather events, manage maintenance costs, and ultimately enhance the security of electricity supply across Auckland,” said Azzopardi.
The system would also predict weather-induced outages.
Vector said by analysing previous storms and outages, and by combining those insights with weather forecasts that update every 15 minutes, the system could identify outage risks across the network “up to 72 hours in advance”.
“Ultimately, we are confident this technology will make extreme weather events more manageable and less disruptive for our customers, who are at the forefront of everything we do at Vector,” said Head.