A novel approach to COVID‑19 Impact Analysis and Reporting for Utilities
The COVID‑19 pandemic is impacting personal, family and business environments. For some municipalities and cities across North America, during the first week of lockdown practices, residential utility usage increased by as much as 12%. Generally, utility companies have a strong track record in preparing for emergencies. As providers of critical infrastructure, the industry plans for many foreseeable hazards, but in most cases continuity plans for health emergencies such as the COVID‑19 crisis were not prepared. There is a need to support utilities in having the appropriate data available for continuity plans that are adaptable to fully address the fast-moving and unknown variables of an outbreak such as COVID-19. The project will answer the following research question: What type of data analysis system may be developed to extract data from utility meters for utility companies that will visually illustrate patterns and trends of utility usage that may be used for infrastructure and service needs decision making? Faculty researchers and students from Okanagan College and Langara College will develop systems for automated acquisition of COVID‑19 related data from public sources, associated storage of this data in a relational database, and configuration of dashboards for visualizations and queries. The project will benefit utility service providers by providing critical information such as transformer load forecasts, enabling decisions that may decrease failure rates. In turn, consumers will benefit, as the system will help providers identify high load scenarios that can be diminished by providing targeted power saving tips.