by Hanna Schreier
Since the year 2000, wildfires caused economic losses of around 149 Billion US-Dollar worldwide, with 2018 being the most extreme with damages exceeding 20 billion US-Dollar (Aon plc. 2019). Besides dry conditions and exceptional heat, many wildfires are caused by vegetation growing in the vicinity of power lines.
Therefore, vegetation management of assets, including the cutback of endangering vegetation next to electricity overhead lines is important to keep them operational and mitigate power outages, damages to the infrastructure and to prevent wildfires. Especially vegetation which grows too close or which is unhealthy poses networks at high risk.
At the present time, it is still difficult for energy suppliers to gather knowledge about the condition of vegetation on the basis of the whole grid, especially in geographically remote areas. Also, inspections are still mainly carried out manually and cycle-based, leading to high costs for operators.
Reliable knowledge about the condition of vegetation can help to improve facility vegetation management significantly. Thus, a condition-based, data-driven management approach is essential for better risk management.
One way to get a sufficient up-to-date data basis can be satellite data. Satellites capture images of the earth on a high temporal resolution. Some sensors, like Sentinel for example, revisit the same area every 5 days, leaving a huge amount of data to use.
LiveEO analyses satellite images with advanced machine-learning algorithms in order to detect and classify vegetation along infrastructure grids. In this way we generate actionable insights that can be implemented into the maintenance process. The findings of our analyses are distributed over two digital platforms, a web-based user interface and a mobile application (Fig. 1). The web app supports managers in budget and resource planning for evidence-based maintenance. By selecting tasking areas the number of tasks can be immediately detected. These can be directly scheduled and assigned to a user.
At the same time, the mobile app helps the on-site staff to work more efficiently. A protocol function allows easy documentation of cutbacks and inspections. New tasks can be scheduled straightaway. In addition, the digitalization of the reporting process through the mobile app enables the tracking of subcontractors’ work.
One main benefit of our solution is the significant reduction in operational costs of up to 35%. At the same time, our analyses improve network security and reliability by 15% while also ensuring compliance with operational and regulatory guidelines.
With LiveEO’s data-driven solution, network operators can completely revolutionize vegetation management at all levels of the organization. Our unique solution is already helping major power utilities in Europe and the US to prevent storm damage, significantly reduce monitoring and maintenance costs and the risk of power outages. LiveEO aims to deliver its state-of-the-art space technology to power utilities all around the world.