Electric Utility Prepares for Hurricane Response
Lakeland Electric is a municipal utility serving 127,000 electric customer accounts in central Florida. Because of its location, the city of Lakeland is periodically threatened by hurricanes. When storms hit, it is essential to assess damage, restore power quickly, and maintain thorough records. Lakeland Electric's digital transformation ensures staff are ready to respond to emergency conditions.
Industry - Electric
User - Lakeland Electric
Challenge - The utility was not content with the long time required to collect, organize, and process paper damage assessment forms.
Solution - ArcGIS, ArcGIS Collector, ArcGIS Dashboards
Result - DARTS has enhanced the utility's emergency preparedness. Structured damage data can now be collected in a very organized fashion. Efficiency of restoration and compliance with FEMA reimbursement requirements are greatly improved.
Hurricanes bring high winds and large amounts of water and inflict heavy damage on power systems. These conditions test utility processes for damage assessment and restoration. Often, supplementary mutual aid crews from neighboring utilities are necessary to restore power in a timely fashion. This magnified workforce creates larger and urgent coordination challenges.
Infrastructure damage must be assessed and understood quickly to effectively prioritize repair work. Utilities must also communicate clearly with stakeholders and the media about their efforts. The utility was not content with the long time required to collect, organize, and process paper damage assessment forms.
The old paper-based process also fell short of additional Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursement requirements. Lakeland Electric staff had performed well in past storms, but they desired to do better by applying modern GIS tools.
Lakeland Electric configured a suite of ArcGIS products to introduce important new capabilities. The Damage Assessment Restoration Toolset (DARTS) solution builds on the utility's existing ArcGIS system of record for electric infrastructure and land base data. To this, it adds valuable functions from ArcGIS Survey123, ArcGIS Collector, Esri Story Maps, Crowdsource Manager, and ArcGIS Dashboards. When necessary, the mobile apps work in a casually connected manner if cell service is temporarily lost in the field.
On iPads, these additions enable mobile workers to reference vital infrastructure information after a storm. They further allow staff to rapidly and consistently collect damage assessment data. This includes exact locations, important details, and digital photographs.
Korey Bush, chief electric system operator for Lakeland Electric, noted, "One of the holes was getting information from damage assessment to crews in a timely manner." The collected information is immediately available to operations and management staff on a live dashboard and in reports. In this way, work may be analyzed, prioritized, and assigned without delay.
DARTS has enhanced the utility's emergency preparedness. It is now a critical training element when preparing for hurricane season. Structured damage data can now be collected in a very organized fashion. Efficiency of restoration and compliance with FEMA reimbursement requirements are greatly improved.
The applications deliver important functions for emergency response and can bring these same capabilities to normal work tasks. Designers routinely use similar apps to reference infrastructure details in the field, streamlining their normal work.
The Operations Dashboard gives management staff an excellent real-time view of the current situation in the field for improved decision-making. "DARTS closed a gap we had getting damage assessment information to crews in a timely manner," said Bush. "Instead of having to wait to bring back papers, the dashboard in the control center is instantaneous—we can start assigning work right away . . . a night and day difference!"
DARTS fully digitizes and streamlines the damage reporting process. In conjunction with Maximo, we're able to collect all our data, including labor, vehicles, work orders, and the information needed to request reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.