IBM's Weather Company Offers Power Protection Edge

April 21, 2017

By Steve Anderson - Contributing Writer

Everybody complains about the weather, so the saying goes, but nobody ever does anything about it. It may seem like an impossibility to actually do something about the weather, but in power protection circles, it could be a huge help. IBM (News - Alert) is stepping in with a new system that could mean the world to power protection: a new power outage prediction model from its Weather Company operations.

The Outage Prediction solution from the Weather Company essentially takes weather forecasting to a new level, suggesting the likelihood of power outages in a given area, and making those predictions as far as 72 hours ahead. That kind of advance warning can be crucial in terms of running advance tests and ensuring that power protection systems are fully operational.

Additionally, this knowledge is good for power companies as well; knowing the likelihood of power outages in the area means that power companies will be able to ramp up staffing levels in advance, calling in repair teams from other jurisdictions less likely to see storm damage and using these people to repair operations that have been impacted.

The Outage Prediction model not only draws on current weather forecasts, but also on historical storm searches to try and match past conditions to present ones. It can even make plans based on a variety of meteorological criteria like humidity, windspeed and more using a machine-learning predictive model to take all these separate data points and combine these into a larger, better whole.

Granted, this only goes so far; it's not going to stop a storm from hitting, and it certainly won't see a rogue squirrel, raccoon or driver's impact on the power grid coming. We all know how often the power goes out on a day with a clear blue sky because some driver hit a pole. While this is an excellent addition to our overall power protection profile, it's just a start. We need those backup systems, like an uninterruptible power supply, to give us that little extra power to save data and shut down systems properly. We need those generators to keep operations going until grid power is restored.

It's important to know when an outage is likely to hit—it allows for system testing and repairs should such be necessary—but knowing, as “GI Joe” famously remarked, is only half the battle. Power protection needs knowledge and infrastructure alike to work to the fullest.

Edited by Alicia Young

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