Case Studies

Enhancing power outage communications & restoration with GIS

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Solution In the fall of 2014, NB Power launched an interactive, public- facing power outage map—hosted on ArcGIS Online and integrated into their public Web site—that displayed colour- coded updates by region to provide customers with a widely- accessible, visual representation of outages. Building on its long-time use of Esri technology, NB Power configured the power outage map using ArcGIS for Desktop and ArcGIS Online. The look and feel of the power outage map was created in-house using ArcGIS for Desktop and then published as a feature service in ArcGIS Online, where the map is hosted on Esri's cloud-based infrastructure. NB Power developed an automated workflow that creates a new, geocoded power outage report in 10-minute intervals. Outage updates are then automatically consolidated, grouped and published to the public-facing outage map on NB Power's Web site. NB Power also developed an internal power outage application for the DSO that features a power outage map with greater detail. Hosted internally by NB Power (except the external basemap map and weather radar service), the DSO's outage map contains power grid infrastructure features, such as wires, poles and parcels, giving staff a broader operational perspective. For example, if customers lose power during a storm, cluster bubbles change colour on the map to indicate critical areas where crews should be dispatched. The map is used at the operational control centre during storms for high- level planning and field crew coordination. Enhancing power outage communications & restoration with GIS | Esri Canada 2 NB Power's internal power outage map helps emergency management staff quickly correlate reported outages with its grid infrastructure to identify and prioritize repair work. " We have seen considerable value in moving to a geographic representation of outage information using ArcGIS. Internally, it provides better information to help optimize restoration efforts. Externally, it provides more intuitive information to help customers, municipalities and the media better understand the scope of a power outage situation during a storm." Tony O'Hara Chief Technology Officer and Vice President, Engineering NB Power Benefits NB Power's power outage map has successfully demonstrated the ability to communicate timely, accurate outage reports to the public and storm management staff during severe storms. When a winter storm hit the province on November 27, 2014, leaving in excess of 50,000 customers without power, the outage map received 1.2 million visitors in a 24-hour period. During the three-hour peak of the storm, the total volume of visits to the power outage map averaged 23 transactions per second. Because the outage map is hosted on Esri's scalable, cloud- based infrastructure—ArcGIS Online—additional processing capacity was available to accommodate the increased traffic, resulting in 100% uptime, consistent performance and a positive end user experience throughout the storm. ArcGIS Online's automated scalability also means NB Power avoided investing in additional, third-party IT infrastructure to manage the sudden surge in map visits during this emergency. Communicating power outage information on a Web-based map resulted in fewer calls to NB Power customer service. Also, NB Power saved money configuring the outage map by using ArcGIS Online entitlements automatically extended through their ArcGIS for Desktop and ArcGIS for Server licenses. The underlying basemap (roads, buildings, parcels, etc.) used in the outage map is managed and maintained by Esri Canada, which saves time for NB Power's GIS department and frees up resources for NB Power's IT infrastructure.

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