Overlaying seismic activity data on AMI-enabled utility distribution networks: A critical smart meter innovation

Carl Hillier, Head of Marketing, UST AlphaAI

Overlaying seismic activity data on gas distribution networks, the vital role of smart meters.

Carl Hillier, Head of Marketing, UST AlphaAI

In an era where technology intersects with every facet of our lives, integrating seismic activity data with gas distribution networks represents a significant leap forward in enhancing public safety and operational efficiency. This blog delves into the importance of such overlays, the role of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) data, and the manifold benefits they offer.


The importance of integration

At the heart of this integration lies the concept of proactive risk management. Earthquakes threaten gas distribution networks, risking infrastructural integrity, service continuity, and public safety. By overlaying seismic activity data onto these networks, utilities gain a crucial tool for anticipating, identifying, and mitigating risks before they escalate into disasters.


Enhancing situational awareness

The overlay of seismic data on gas distribution maps provides utilities with unprecedented situational awareness. This comprehensive view enables operators to pinpoint areas at heightened risk of damage following seismic events, facilitating swift, targeted responses that can significantly diminish the impact of such events on the network and its users.


Leveraging advanced metering infrastructure data

The advent of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) has revolutionized how utilities manage and monitor gas consumption. AMI systems provide real-time data on gas flow, pressure levels, and potential leaks, offering a detailed live view of the network's health. Integrating this data with seismic activity overlays enhances the utility's ability to detect, diagnose, and respond to anomalies indicative of earthquake-related damage.

Here are five ways to ensure you get the most from AMI data for gas distribution networks:

1. Give business operations access to real-time insights. The operations team is responsible for making critical business decisions. Hence, your AMI analytics platform should be immediately accessible to them. This allows operations to examine your AMI data on demand and identify issues quickly and timely.

2. Make sure your analytics platform grows with your AMI. The data generated by your AMI will grow in multiple dimensions. With the penetration of advanced meters set to reach 90% by the end of the decade, AMI processing demands will grow vastly over the next five years. Therefore, your platform must handle this increase in data volume and velocity.

3. Don't just process in real time; analyze in real-time too. Your AMI generates massive data that continuously flows into your organization. Processing your data in real-time is not enough; it is equally essential to process your queries in real-time. You must be able to analyze real-time data instantly to make critical, timely business decisions.

4. Correlate historical data with your live feeds. Real-time data tells you what is happening now, but it's only part of the picture. Correlating real-time data with historical data accessed via a single interface helps you understand its proper context and exploit AI/ML technologies to identify trends and make predictions.

5. Include the customer's perspective. While AMI data creates a holistic view of your distribution network, it is vital to provide a customer-centric perspective to enhance customer engagements and ensure continuous availability of real-time customer information and feedback.


The benefits unfold

1. Improved emergency response

Overlaying seismic data enables utilities to accurately model potential impact scenarios, guiding emergency response efforts precisely. This capability ensures that resources are allocated efficiently, repairs are prioritized based on critical needs, and safety measures are implemented swiftly, reducing the risk of catastrophic outcomes.

2. Enhanced leak detection and prevention

Utilities can detect abnormal patterns that may signify gas leaks or damage by combining seismic data with AMI insights. This proactive approach allows immediate intervention, potentially preventing leaks from escalating into major incidents. Furthermore, AMI analytics for gas leaks facilitate ongoing maintenance strategies that preemptively address areas identified as vulnerable to seismic activity.

3. Optimized network management

Integrating seismic and AMI data provides a dynamic tool for managing the gas distribution network under ordinary and extraordinary conditions. Utilities can use this data to simulate various scenarios, optimize gas flow, and implement upgrades or reinforcements in high-risk areas, thus enhancing overall network resilience.

4. Public safety and confidence

Ultimately, the primary benefit of this technological integration is safeguarding public safety. Utilities protect infrastructure, ensure service continuity, and bolster public confidence in managing emergencies effectively by taking proactive measures to mitigate earthquake risks. Earthquake management for gas utilities is paramount to society's well-being and the sustainability of businesses, economies, and infrastructures.

5. Data-driven decision making

The rich dataset resulting from this integration supports informed decision-making. Utilities can analyze patterns over time, identifying trends and potential vulnerabilities within the network. This data-driven approach enables the continuous refinement of safety protocols, infrastructure investments, and customer service strategies.


Case study – large west coast gas utility

UST worked closely with a gas utility on the West Coast of the US, with over 6 million Smart Meters installed. These meters provide detailed hourly gas usage data wirelessly uploaded four times daily. This massive volume of data needs to be available almost immediately for analysis.

UST IQ for AMI Analytics automated the utility company's data engineering pipeline from ingestion to insights. As a result, AMI business operations can focus on critical decision-making rather than managing the underlying IT infrastructure. UST IQ for AMI Analytics empowers business operations to build new business rules and accommodate new or changing data sources without embarking on large-scale software engineering projects.

When earthquakes occur, and they frequently do in California, our customer can instantly see the latest processed data from their AMI network on the screen, overlaid with a live data feed from the US Geological Survey.

The UST IQ for the AMI Analytics platform consumes large volumes of data and creates a consolidated, global view of real-time and historical data ready for on-demand analysis by business operations teams. This ensures the continuous availability of accurate information to those responsible for making critical, rapid, data-driven business decisions.


Looking ahead

The overlay of seismic activity data on gas distribution networks, enhanced by the detailed insights provided by AMI, represents a critical step forward in the utility sector's ongoing efforts to improve safety, efficiency, and resilience. As technology evolves, so will the capabilities to predict, prepare for, and respond to natural disaster challenges. This innovative approach exemplifies the power of technology to protect communities and ensure the uninterrupted provision of essential services in the face of nature's unpredictability.

In conclusion, the fusion of seismic data with gas networks and AMI data is not just an advancement in utility management; it's a fundamental shift towards a more resilient, responsive, and responsible approach to public service and safety. As we continue to navigate a world where natural disasters remain a constant threat, such innovations stand as beacons of progress, demonstrating the vital role of technology in building safer, smarter cities.