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Product Abstract

Electric Utility Guidebook on Integration of Internal and External Data Sources: Industry Risks, Technical Challenges, and Data Integration Methodologies

Product ID:3002005118
Date Published:20-Oct-2015
Sector Name:Power Delivery & Utilization - Distribution & Utilization
Document Type:Technical Results

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The increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events experienced by many electric utilities in the past decade poses several risks and raises technical challenges in regards to data integration. Integrating various data sources so that system operators can make the most informed decisions before, during, or after an event can help alleviate some of the vulnerability posed to infrastructure and operations systems. This report describes industry risks and technical challenges, including the identification of data gaps, evaluation of data integration methodologies, and a discussion of the importance of geospatial information to enhance the assessment of weather events on operations assets.


Following the landfall of Super Storm Sandy in 2012, a number of programs and government initiatives emerged to evaluate the risks posed to utilities and to document best practices. The objectives of this multi-phase research effort are to create an inventory of external data sources, investigate useful linkages relevant to utilities, and identify integration approaches.

This report focuses on the value and technical concerns associated with integrating internal and external data sources within the utility enterprise. The results of this project provide improved knowledge for using external data sources in transmission system operational functions, the effects of extreme weather events on electric power assets, and tools to apply this knowledge to lower operations and maintenance costs and to improve reliability.


  • To identify risks and data gaps, including industry-related risks and technical challenges.
  • To develop methodologies and tools for lowering operational and maintenance costs and improving reliability, including technological and institutional methodologies.
  • To determine the impacts of geospatial information.


The project team conducted a literature review of industry risks and technical challenges, and developed an inventory of data integration and geospatial data models. Advisors to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Transmission program were surveyed via webcasts several times throughout the research period to gain insight into current challenges and data gaps.


This report provides an overview of common industry risks and technical challenges associated with the integration of internal and external data sources. Common industry risks include threats to reliability and asset management, safety and security, as well as financial-related risks. Technical challenges range from semantic to structural data issues in addition to data gaps. Understanding power system state, asset condition, and climate conditions through an integrated view is key to capitalizing on useful data relationships. An inventory of data integration methodologies is evaluated from a technical capabilities perspective, and institutional best practices are listed. A combination of data models and institutional best practices can assist in increasing data accuracy, reducing damage to the system, and improving response planning. The importance of geospatial data is discussed, including an overview of the current landscape, illustration of geographic information systems (GIS) quality assurance and quality control processes, inventory of data visualization models and discussion on the link and growing importance of geospatial data and social media information. Benefits of technical and institutional data improvements are listed, however, whether discussing data gaps, models or visualization techniques, the output should be turning data into actionable, insightful information. Several challenges still remain in regards to data integration, including the lack of data and communications infrastructure, the ability to share relevant data across departments, and the need to quantify the feasibility and benefits of data integration.

Applications, Value, and Use

The report is intended for technical staff involved in transmission operations, planning and maintenance activities. The report can be used as a guide to understanding common challenges and solutions for data integration, particularly in the context of weather event planning, response and recovery.

2015 Program 161   Information and Communication Technology
  • Data Integration
  • Data models
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Quality Assurance / Quality Control (QA/QC)

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