Video Highlights Burbank’s Use of Analytics to Ensure Electric Reliability

With summer fast approaching, Southern Californians can look forward to a few of their favorite pastimes: beach days, family vacations, and backyard barbeques that undo all that hard work in the gym. But if this summer turns out to be anything like last year’s residents can also expect soaring temperatures and, in turn, another round of those dreadful power outages.

Unless you’re in Burbank, that is.

The Burbank Department of Water and Power recently achieved one of the best records of reliability in the nation. In 2013 it averaged just 16 minutes of interruption and, during the record heat wave of 2014, the utility suffered 0 outages. Now, a new animated video explains just how and why the utility was able to accomplish this amazing feat.

As the dapper character Calvin explains, Burbank’s DWP has been harnessing the power of big data to transform the way it provides electricity to its customers. The utility recently invested in wireless smart meters that measure the electric usage in each home or business every 15 minutes, as opposed to the previous system which relied on monthly visits by meter readers. The contrast is stark. While the previous system yielded just 12 pieces of customer data per year, the smart meters provide 35,000 data points per customer on an annual basis. Using that information, the utility is able to predict and diagnose outages before they ever occur.

One way to ensure electric reliability is by gauging the performance of the city’s transformers. With the help of innovative new software, the Burbank DWP can also better determine which equipment needs to be replaced. In addition, the system helps them identify the appropriate size for each transformer—a tool which has resulted in significant savings and increased dependability across the board.

“Harnessing big data has put Burbank out front as the electric reliability leader,” says Calvin, a Burbank DWP engineer. “The dollar savings gained from investing in big data is substantial, but the customer goodwill that is created by providing one of the most reliable electric services in the nation is priceless.”

Watch the video here.