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William McEvoy14 Jul, 2020

The value of sharing

Power utilities, even more than most businesses, need to think beyond the borders of the enterprise in their approach to data. In an outage or other major disruption, utilities need to communicate quickly and efficiently with other responders outside the company and with the public.

In a 2018 report from New America, “Gridlock: Enhancing Disaster Response Efforts Through Data Transparency in the Electric Utility Sector,” researcher Braxton Bridgers wrote that strategies for the sharing of real-time data can help utilities and their partners in emergency services respond better to incidents. With climate change a growing threat, incidents are increasing in size and frequency, and the importance of better approaches to the collection and sharing of data is growing as well.

Data-sharing is important inside an enterprise as well. Within a utility, different kinds of users need access to different information. Field operators might need push alerts to notify them when a situation needs to be investigated. Corporate users might need historical reports on production to craft business strategies. Maintenance personnel need reports that let them know when equipment needs to be checked and serviced.

For a data system to serve as a single source of truth and successfully deliver real-time information to a wide variety of users both inside and outside the enterprise, there are a couple of key factors.

The first is flexibility: The system must be able to deliver the right information to the right user. Tools like PI Vision, which allow for the creation of intuitive visual interfaces for monitoring data, and notifications which enable alerts tailored to specific circumstances and roles, put actionable information into the right hands.

Security is equally vital. Creating read-only environments for non-invasive access to data is important, whether that access is coming from inside the company or from outside partners. Protecting vital data against accidental updates is as important as protecting it from deliberate intrusions.

With the right data collection strategy, a power utility can have it all: easy access to real-time information that can be acted on, and a secure platform that provides read-only environments to users and protects the integrity of critical operational data.

To learn more, see our paper: “Real-time data for Incidents: Transforming incident management in the utility industry.”

William McEvoyIndustry Principal for Power & UtilitiesBill McEvoy is the Industry Principal for Power & Utilities at OSIsoft, with over 30 years of experience in the utility and information technology profession.
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