What Are You Looking For?

• Power Utilities

What Are You Looking For?

Utility Vegetation Management

  • Problem: Poor understanding of capabilities of geospatial analytics.
  • Solution: Consider these questions.
  • Benefit: Adoption of powerful solutions.

“Write down the problem and draw a diagram.” This is the phrase I heard over and over again from my father when he helped me with my math and science homework in middle and high school. Break the problem into small, understandable pieces, then the solution often finds itself. He earned a mathematics degree in college and has a very analytical and process-oriented mind.

The field of geospatial analytics is still relatively new for most people and companies. When I arrange an introductory meeting and show real Satelytics project examples (no PowerPoint slides!), people often say something like, “I had no idea you could do that,” or, “That is incredible!”

If your company is exploring what geospatial analytics can provide, here are some questions to consider before you start:

  • What information are you seeking?

A power utility’s operations staff tasked with vegetation management may be primarily interested in identifying where trees and vegetation present risk to the wiring zone. Of secondary interest might be land movements or encroachments in the right-of-way, including illegal construction, vehicles, agricultural activities, eagles’ nests, or land changes due to natural phenomena.

Encroachment in the wiring zone.

Encroachment in the wiring zone.

  • How big is the feature of interest?
    Do you want to see specific trees and branches encroaching in the wiring zone? Are there wildlife habitats or other environmental concerns? If so, only the highest resolution satellite imagery with a pixel size of 30-50 centimeters (the size of a dinner plate!) can provide those results.

    Satelytics tasks high-resolution satellite imagery, providing specificity. When interviewing other providers, be sure to ask what resolution they are using, and what they do with that imagery. Do they truly run analytics, or just deliver mountains of raw data to you? Beware! Many pretenders want you to believe they can do more than they have actually proven.

  • Where are you looking?
    High-resolution satellite imagery is sold in 100 square kilometer blocks called tiles. Specifying a precise area of interest allows us to minimize the data costs you incur. Don’t buy data you don’t need!

  • How often do you want to inspect the area of interest?
    Utilities typically clear trees on 2-4 year cycles. Ground vegetation cleared through mowing or spraying might occur annually or bi-annually. Satelytics’ customers in this space typically employ quarterly analyses to get out ahead of risk and reduce negative consequences.

  • Can it be quantified?
    This is the big question. This usually means either physical measurements or some other type of quantification. Physical measurements include canopy encroachment area, tree height, tree density, area of vegetation growth or decline, and proximity to infrastructure.

    Satelytics’ spectral analysis also means that tree and vegetation speciation is possible. Customers have asked us to identify ash, gray pines, and others because these species are sources of increased risk to their infrastructure. With infrared analysis, speciation of vegetation is nearly unlimited.

  • How long does it take to get the results?
    Geospatial analytics can provide useful alerts on the condition of large asset areas if that information is delivered in a timely manner. Our Constant Vigilance algorithms process large data sets with results ready in a matter of hours after imagery is gathered. Current Satelytics customers have chosen our tools after becoming frustrated with long lead times (months sometimes) that have accompanied previous analytics companies and LiDAR-based tools.

The field of geospatial analytics is in its infancy. Satelytics is the market leader, with nearly 700 trillion pixels analyzed to date. We can help you, if you define the problem you are trying to solve before you start looking for solutions.

Interested in our newsletter?