2022 Trend Predictions from the UDC Team

Tom Helmer's picture
Executive Solution Architect UDC

Executive Solution Architect for UDC and SAFe® 4 Certified Agilist (SA), Tom has over 25 years of experience designing and integrating utility solutions around GIS and related technologies,...

  • Member since 2008
  • 17 items added with 42,953 views
  • Jan 26, 2022

This item is part of the Power Industry 2022 Trends & Predictions - January 2022 SPECIAL ISSUE, click here for more

Image Credit: UDC 

As a spatial solution and system integration provider, we see firsthand how innovations in technology are making it possible for utilities to build upon their existing systems and investments to streamline operations while improving safety, compliance management, and reliability. We also understand technology alone does not drive business trends. Trends emerge from a combination of identifying a common and specific need and then fulfilling that need with real-world experience, understanding, and the right-fit solution. We’re pleased to share our 2022 Industry Trend Predictions from our team with the members at Energy Central.

Tom Helmer
Executive Solution Architect and Energy Central Expert

The growth of big data and data analytics will continue, picking up speed in 2022. The early adopters of AMI, Demand Response, DERMS and ADMS should be able to take advantage of their synergies and to mine the digital wealth of information contained in those separate systems. Then, using something like GIS to visualize, aggregate by subsection of power system and perform analytics on top of the rich set of information they now own either in individual business systems or have put into a Smart Grid Data Repository as outlined in my recent Energy Central post. 

Incorporating both automated intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) into the utility’s suite of technologies should make historical digital information that much more valuable in managing the grid and performing reliability analysis and forecasting. Look for my upcoming Energy Central post addressing digital mining and its impacts on energy, crews, and the utility carbon footprint to be released later this quarter.

Ben Dwinal
Solution Architect and Energy Central Expert

A trend that I see growing in popularity in 2022 and beyond is that Energy organizations will prioritize Quality Improvement Planning as a key business activity. Increasing focus on process improvement and operational excellence is being driven by several factors.

Three top drivers of this focus on quality include:

  1. Proactive response to regulatory commissions imposing increased monitoring and applying tighter regulations on energy providers.
  2. Organizations striving for more efficiency both financially and within enterprise software solutions.

  3. Increasing use of automation to reduce manual processing and reporting efforts.

In effect, we will see IT and technology departments increasingly asked to evaluate existing technology solutions, data and software configurations, and system integrations. They will be looking for opportunities to improve efficiency, security, and reliability. This evaluation will extend across all mobile, web, and desktop platforms as well as server-side environments, data centers, networks, and related infrastructure. I look forward to providing some real-world examples of solution evaluations in my next Energy Central post.

Another trending topic within our industry highlighted in the recent Energy Central PowerSession, How Advances in Mobile and Cloud Computing Provide Efficiencies for Utility Companies, is the growth of cloud and hybrid cloud solutions at the utility. As remote workforces and technology enabled field collection grow, it will be imperative for organizations to adopt cloud technology and solutions to securely support workers and their workflows. We will see organizations begin to prioritize architecting and streamlining an enterprise mobility ecosystem overall.

Karen Smith

Director of Strategic Business Development

A trend that I believe we will see is for utilities to automate ‘boots on the ground’ inspections with LiDAR, imagery, and AI. While GIS-based veg management software has come a long way (see Ben’s post Advances in GIS and IT Platforms for More Effective Vegetation Management) many utilities don’t have a good handle on their annual budgets. During the UVM bid process, we have seen that many utilities only inspect a portion of their circuits (manually), and don’t give contractors the data needed to submit accurate bids. The outcome is higher prices and fuzzy communication.  

To alleviate this, more and more utilities will explore reducing manual inspections by performing remote inspections. By using post-processed remotely sensed data, advanced algorithms can automate prescriptions by work type so detailed work tasks flow directly to the tree crews and their mobile devices (APIs automatically connect the data and the software). This approach gives utility vegetation managers control of their budgets, better communication with contractors, and a path to improve data quality.  

Frank Roberts

Account Manager and Energy Central Expert

Following the example of industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, and automotive, in 2022, we will see more energy providers investing in operational digital twins.

For utilities, real-time operational digital twin technology has shown effectiveness in supporting emergency response by elevating an organization’s ability to evaluate operations before, during and after major weather events – an increasing occurrence for many regions due to climate change.

The integration of data rich digital technologies to provide an as-operating view of the network will help to address knowledge gaps due to a retiring workforce. Real-time, historic, and future grid performance views will become vital to optimizing equipment performance and maximizing revenue while reducing risk, overhead, and maintenance.

In addition, technologies such as GIS and Kubernetes are primed to provide the operational views of the grid to remote users, mobile users, management, executives and utility customers, breaking down information silos and streamlining communications across the organization.

These use cases and other proven benefits of the operational digital twin will drive its expansion within the industry.

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Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Jan 27, 2022

To get to know the UDC team a little better - watch our 2022 Wishes video. The UDC team was gracious to participate in this short community-based video as part of our Trends Special Issue Series. 

Todd Carney's picture
Todd Carney on Feb 10, 2022

This was an excellent piece! I really liked how all of you identified ways that the energy industry will use technology to improve. Are there any challenges that the industry faces in terms of your predictions coming true?

Tom Helmer's picture
Thank Tom for the Post!
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