Want a more resilient city? Enlist computers to help manage outages

Tue, 2013-06-18 15:44 -- Jesse Berst

Superstorm Sandy was a watershed moment in North America. It forced cities to confront the realities of climate change. Severe weather events will be much more common in the future.

How can your city be more resilient? One answer is to enlist help from computers. An application called outage management can help your local utility locate and restore service interruptions much more quickly. And if your city has a unified emergency control center, it can pass through information on what areas are out and when they are expected to get back online.

Utilities have been doing this in piecemeal fashion for a long time. But now a subsidiary of Council Associate Partner ABB has pulled everything together into the ultimate outage manager -- and for that, we're naming it our Innovator of the Week.

Skim the release below and you'll read about some amazing capabilities. This application can, among other things:

  • Detect outages the moment they occur (many utilities still have to wait until customers call them before they know anything is wrong)
  • Pinpoint their location (many utilities still have to send repairmen out to poke around until they narrow down the location)
  • Communicate with customers (via auto-fax, auto-voice messages, social media, etc.)
  • Complete the restoration (including the important job of updating equipment databases to show what's been fixed, what's been replaced, etc.)

- Jesse Berst, Smart Cities Council Chairman 


Ventyx Introduces First Comprehensive Outage Lifecycle Management Solution to Help Utilities Reduce Economic and Societal Impact of Major Storm Outages         

Leading U.S. energy companies share expertise and best practices for pioneering new solution that will minimize frequency and duration of power outages with growing number of extreme weather events worldwide

SAN FRANCISCO, June 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Ventyx World 2013 -- Ventyx, an ABB company, today announced from its Ventyx World 2013 customer conference the first complete solution for outage lifecycle management to help utilities more effectively manage the end-to-end process for minimizing the impact of major storm outages on customers. The Ventyx Outage Lifecycle Management is the only unified solution that addresses every key business process in the outage management lifecycle – from planning and preparation, to communications with customers, through to final restoration of service and regulatory reporting.

Many utilities have decades of experience in delivering power reliably. However, today they are faced with unprecedented challenges, including growing energy demand, aging infrastructures and workforces, new regulatory requirements and growing customer-service expectations.

Significant changes in global climate conditions have also resulted in extreme weather events around the world – including hurricanes, droughts, bush fires and flooding – resulting in both short-term and long-term power outages. In fact, a recent study by the U.S. Congressional Research Service estimated the economic impact from storm-related outages to the U.S. economy at between $20 billion and $55 billion annually. The study also suggested that outages due to weather-related events will continue to increase.

The Ventyx Outage Lifecycle Management Solution is being developed with strategic guidance by leading utility companies, such as Ventyx customer DTE Energy. As part of DTE Energy's innovative smart grid program, the Detroit-based utility is working to further improve fault detection, outage management and asset maintenance through the deployment of Ventyx software. Following the initial success of these initiatives, Ventyx is now leveraging this knowledge and expertise to deliver a single, integrated solution that will help other utilities to easily implement a platform for the management of the entire outage lifecycle.

"We understand the significant impact of unplanned outages on our customers and their communities, and are fully committed to reducing both the frequency and duration of these events. We continuously seek ways to deliver the highest level of service reliability our customers expect, and key to achieving this goal is constantly improving our process for outage lifecycle management across all key phases," said Vincent G. Dow, Vice President and Chief Engineer, Distribution at DTE Energy. "We've been working closely with Ventyx to implement such a solution, and are proud to help guide the development of this innovative new offering."

Added Rick Nicholson, vice president, transmission and distribution solutions at Ventyx, "The global community has been hit hard by a growing number of extreme weather events, which are causing utilities to rethink the way they handle major outages. To deliver the 'always on' service levels that customers expect, utilities must transform their outage lifecycle process using newer technologies, including advanced analytics and mobility. Together with ABB, Ventyx is committed to helping our customers meet this challenge head on. With the support of customers like DTE Energy, we can help utilities to lessen the significant impact of these events worldwide."

Taking place this week, the Ventyx World 2013 customer conference in San Francisco is the first annual gathering of the global Ventyx customer community to share best practices in asset-intensive industries for minimizing risk, maximizing efficiency and driving bottom-line results. For more information, please visit http://www.ventyxworld.com.

About Ventyx

Ventyx, an ABB company, is a world-leading supplier of Industrial Enterprise Software for essential industries such as energy, mining and public infrastructure. Ventyx solutions bridge the gap between information technologies (IT) and operational technologies (OT), enabling clients to make faster, better-informed decisions in both daily operations and long-term planning strategies. Some of the world's largest organizations rely on Ventyx solutions to minimize risk, enhance operational and financial performance, and execute the right strategies for the future. For more details, see www.ventyx.com.