The clock started ticking the moment the 2020 Midwest derecho ravaged the first circuit.
When the damage was tallied, the storm had devastated more the 400 circuits across hundreds of miles in Iowa, leaving thousands of people without power or communications.
ISG engineering answered the call to help support the utility and telecommunications teams working in the field to restore the grid’s infrastructure. Their specific mission was to conduct a post-storm audit for Alliant Energy, an electric utility and long-time customer of ISG’s.
The audit came on the heels of the initial work done by Alliant’s linemen to restore power and the telecommunications companies to replenish communications lines.
ISG was to acquire field data on the electric utility’s grid infrastructure, which included more than 5,000 poles, so the utility would have a record of joint use attachments as well as information that could be used to address safety-related issues.
To handle the job and meet their deadlines, ISG set about acquiring the field data using teams of field workers with iPads as well as several state-of-the-art drones, all of which collected data using a GIS-based platform.
Faced with the challenge of organizing the data so Alliant energy would have information on their grid infrastructure— including joint use attachments and safety compliance—ISG turned to ikeGPS.
After listening to ISG explain its situation and challenges, the team at ikeGPS suggested IKE Insight as a solution.
“We have a tech-driven, intelligent-minded culture at ISG. Ike has that same culture and shares a lot of our philosophies. Working with them was great.”
–Dan Nelson, Telecommunications + Energy Group Leader, ISG Engineering
With IKE Insight in their toolkit, ISG was able to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze the data acquired in the field via drone, smartphone, and tablet photography by fielders who were skilled at acquiring the images but not necessarily identifying every desired element of Alliant’s grid infrastructure.
IKE Insight helped ISG analyze the acquired data and automatically detect much of the key information from Alliant Energy including information on transformers, joint-use attachments, and down guys.
IKE Insight also helped automate what would otherwise have been a manual process of populating data ISG had acquired into the utility’s asset management tool, National Joint Utilities Notification System (NJUNS), which is the system Alliant uses to collect any information about their infrastructure.
Automating the ticket creation process in NJUNS which included more than 20,000 tickets, in this case, eliminating the need for ISG team members to enter manually what had just been collected in the field.
As a result, ISG was able to save significant time and human resources. The engineering firm was able to complete the project in about half the time it would have otherwise taken had all processes been executed manually.
Additionally, ISG gained accurate data necessary to help Alliant Energy maintain the integrity of their grid infrastructure.
“The people we worked with at IKE were so knowledgeable and really listened to the specifics of our project,” said ISG’s Telecommunications and Energy Group leader Dan Nelson. “Then, they collaborated with our team to arrive at a creative solution that included figuring out how IKE’s solutions fit into our workflow. Now, we have this pool of data that our customer can use based on what they need to serve their community.”
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