Data Management is the Key to Safer Utilities
Aug 1, 2023

Data Management is the Key to Safer Utilities

Safer utilities depend on capturing and utilizing data effectively.Today’s utility companies are in the business of providing essential resources to people and businesses. Utilities are the lifeblood of our day to day lives, but we rarely think about them until the power is out. The industry has been slow to embrace the technological evolution that has occurred around them. While other industries have pushed to capture every drop of data they can squeeze from their operations, utility companies are only now starting to capitalize on the opportunity before them.  

Every second of every day, utility companies across the world generate millions, if not billions, of data points; yet most of them let them slip away uncaptured and unrecorded. They are focused on something far more critical: the costs of a failure in their assets. A utility’s worst nightmare is a disaster or a prolonged service disruption; both can have catastrophic consequences. Yet the solution is right in front of them: their data.  

Tucked away in drawers and file cabinets, in excel spreadsheets and hard drives, are hundreds of thousands of data points. The documents are as mundane as an invoice or as crucial as a maintenance request. Paper redlines, handwritten work orders, field notes and more are organized in a manner suited to whoever is handling them and rendered functionally useless for data mining and analytics. For decades, utility companies have operated off information that is siloed off and difficult to access. With that disorganization comes loss: loss of money, loss of time, and at its worst, loss of life.  

Every piece of information documented in those records is a data point; pieced together, it forms the fabric of data that becomes a company-wide source of truth. Assembling this data fabric should be a utility’s highest priority. Otherwise, valuable information remains scattered across desks and hidden away, often at the expense of their efficiency and their customers’ safety.  

At EKN Engineering, we are focused and dedicated to helping utility companies build their data fabrics and driving cultural organizational change. We empower stakeholders and companies to make data-backed decisions that will bring them closer to 100% safety and compliance. We have pioneered robust quality control systems that integrate seamlessly into our client’s native technical environments. Our programs and systems have proven track-records of success in increasing accountability, oversight, and promote lasting organizational change.  

Work Verification is a simple solution: our process audits and verifies the work field crews are hired to complete from both an administrative and engineering perspective. We confirm their work is up to standard and in compliance through photographs and written documentation. Work Verification is a filter for GIS and SAP, ensuring that every piece of information loaded into company-wide mapping systems is live and verified.

Work Verification avoids complications at every bend. From identifying issues outside the original scope of the order, or reducing dangerous field visits down treacherous access roads, we’ve minimized risk and increased efficiency.  

Data is going to be stored in one way or another. Without a unified system of record, the chain of information—data crucial to safety, compliance, and efficiency—breaks. The safety of millions of people and acres of land is currently hinging on shoddy documentation and outdated habits. Employees can’t place themselves in the bigger picture, mapping systems are outdated, and time and time again, budgets, field crews and customers are put at risk in favor of antiqued record keeping systems.  

To understand your data is to understand your business; constructing a unified system of record is just the first step to data fluency.  

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