Accurate analytics require robust datasets to understand the growing complexity of the grid — such as increasing demand combined with extreme weather events that can significantly disrupt power generation and delivery — and to truly succeed we need inclusive, authoritative, and transparent power outage data to inform investments in grid resilience and restoration, deliver immediate benefits to our existing emergency response systems, and provide visibility into underserved communities and infrastructure.
Outage data from utilities is a valuable and expected public service but is often fragmented, unavailable, and lacking commonalities (e.g., differences in reporting between City, Town, Zip, Parish, Meter, Polygon, Census, Estimated Time of Restoration, etc.). Beyond the public-private and public-civic partnership of Investor-Owned Utilities, Cooperatives, and Municipal utilities, there are pluralities — such as state emergency management agencies, first responders, the Department of Health and Human Services, underserved communities, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, situational awareness platforms, and more — that can benefit from access to standardized outage data.
For greater preparedness, The White House Office of Science Technology and Policy (OSTP) announced support for the adoption of standardized outage data as championed by The Outage Data Initiative Nationwide (ODIN).
ODIN is a network of leading electric service providers voluntarily committed to providing comprehensive interoperable power outage data. The initiative is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity and executed through Oak Ridge National Laboratory. ODIN is a safe, trusted standard for power outage data that helps restoration, reliability, risk mitigation, storm response, and more. ODIN’s goal is to create a conduit for stakeholders sharing critical outage data in real-time, whatever the situation, to support any type of emergency — weather and non-weather related. ODIN enhances data reliability and accuracy and reduces the cost of data sharing between stakeholders.
ODIN leverages two easily implementable standards for reporting electrical power outage data via Common Information Model (CIM) IEC 61968-3 and MultiSpeak. With more than 3,000 electric utilities operating across the US — from large national corporations to local cooperatives and municipal entities — greater standardization empowers utilities to share data with any stakeholder they choose: customers, neighboring utilities, emergency management officials, and more.
Sharing Outage Data has myriad benefits:
1. Less time on the phone in an emergency event, allowing grid operators to concentrate on crucial restoration efforts.
2. Timely information can help save lives for medically dependent individuals and underserved communities.
3. Committing to ODIN is committing to leading the electric service provider industry on resilience, and utility participation shows support for uniform, timely, accurate, and detailed information. Information drives results, and ODIN is an enabler to exchange outage information in a seamless manner (similar to how GPS is a single source of geospatial coordinates).
4. Committing to ODIN is a Program Policy Factor within the Grid Resilience Innovation Partnership (GRIP) Program (allocating at least $2.5 billion of Topic Area 1 Grid Resilience Grants), and utilities participating in ODIN will be better prepared to meet the requirement criteria for federal funding.
ODIN enables easy generation of interactive maps for outage data with all standardized information being ingested in an ODIN-compliant format for stakeholder needs. Overlaying outage information on top of other critical map layers within Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can provide emergency management stakeholders a common operating picture for a broader perspective and understanding.
Situational awareness leads to improved decision-making, clear communications, and streamlined response. Transparent, standardized power outage data empowers first responders and utilities to deploy resources effectively, reach communities in need sooner, and restore power more promptly. Outage information archived by utilities in ODIN-compliant standards can help identify problem areas in the grid, prioritize repairs and upgrades, and predict when and where future outages may occur
Leading US electric utility vendors (e.g., NISC, Milsoft, Oracle, Siena Tech, STAR) have incorporated ODIN standards within their outage management system, so it’s likely all that’s needed from your utility is an affirmative decision to participate. With widespread industry collaboration and one-on-one technical support available, startup can be as fast as 30 minutes.
To Join ODIN, just follow these steps:
2. Send your ‘Participation Letter’ to ODIN.
3. The ODIN team will receive confirmation and quickly initiate a brief kick-off meeting for implementation (often as simple as “throwing a switch” with your data vendor).
4. Project implementation and testing can begin with your utility.
As utility customers depend more and more on electricity for our daily life, we must ensure that communities burdened by aging infrastructure and power outages are not left behind as electrification advances. Standardized outage data can provide Americans with a common base of shared information that gives us the ability to respond to emergencies. We’re asking electric utilities and other partners to join us in taking a critical step forward and sharing this valuable information with the Outage Data Initiative Nationwide.
Supriya Chinthavali is the group leader for the Built Environment Characterization group in ORNL’s Geospatial Sciences and Human Security Division.