Data, data & more data! Utilities are sitting on mountains of data, but the question is how to use this data efficiently. The simple answer is data science. This blog series will review the fundamentals of data science, its benefits, the importance of working with cleansed data – and how all this can play out for electrical utility companies.
So let’s get started – what are the basics of data science?
Data Science is gathering valuable insight from data using processes and algorithms. This field combines computer science, statistics and mathematical expertise to solve complex problems and, more specifically for utilities – the ability to plan for the energy transition and grid modernization.
Data Science starts with the collection, preprocessing, cleaning, and analysis of data to uncover patterns and trends and develop predictive models that can be used for decision-making. It also involves developing data visualization and using communication skills to communicate insights and findings to stakeholders. For instance, it could help an electrical utility answer questions ranging anywhere from “What grid assets should be prioritized for upgrades to deal with the effects of load growth due to growth in electrical vehicle adoption?” to “Which customers would be most likely to help effectively with demand response?” and many more! You can read more about the benefits of integrating data science in electrical utility organizations in part 2 of this blog series (link).
Some techniques and tools used in Data Science include machine learning, statistical analysis, data mining, and data visualization. Data scientists typically have strong skills in programming, statistics, and mathematics, as well as domain-specific knowledge in the field they are working in. The most commonly employed programming languages in Data Science are Python, R, and SQL.
The basics of data science can be broken down as follows:
Data architecture & data collection:
Data architecture refers to the organization of data systems, including the structure, storage, processing, and security of data. It involves defining rules, policies, and standards that govern how data is collected, stored, and used within organizations. Data collection can be done as a one time-dump or via data pipelines. The data is typically stored through a cloud provider or on-premise for utilities. Data can be very heterogeneous; in particular, for electrical utilities, some commonly-encountered types of data are
- Geographical data
- Network structure data
- Asset properties data
- Customer information data
- Electrical measurement time series data
Cleansing of data:
Identifying inaccurate data, fixing errors, and filling in missing values in the dataset via machine learning algorithms. For utilities, a common error example is wrong GIS connectivity information resulting in disconnected grid portions. We explore the benefits of working with cleansed data in part 3 of this series.
Exploration & visualization of data:
Summarizing the data to identify patterns, trends, and relationships between variables and creating visual representations such as dashboards to facilitate communication and understanding of the insights. Some of this can be done using a digital twin explorer for asset situational awareness for utilities.
Modelling of data & designing use cases:
Building forecasting tools using machine learning models, developing algorithms and use cases to address a particular industry challenge. This is incredibly valuable in developing replicable & portable solutions to adapt the grid to DERs.
Interpretation, Presentation & Communication:
The process of interpreting and explaining the results of data analysis to stakeholders, including business executives, policymakers, regulatory bodies or the general public. This stage also includes sharing interactive analytics with non-technical users for their customization and interpretation.
In part 2 of our data Science blog series, we will explore the benefits of using data science as a utility.
You can also explore this past blog post, “How Can A Utility Become More Data-Driven?”
Additionally, we are always keen to chat about our Data Science Services. Our team of experienced data scientists can provide your organization with the tools to commence your data science journey.
Contact us directly for more information!