Wednesday, July 20, 2011

#ALGORITHMS: "Visualization Analytics Writ Large"

An 80 foot wide visualization display simultaneously tracks data streams from thousands of sensors to provide the real-time analytics necessary to balance a statewide electric grid, with telecommunications the next challenge.

In what it terms a breakthrough combination of stream computing and analytics, Space-Time Insight today announced the installation of a record-breaking 80-foot wide wall-of-visualizations designed to give operators of one of the world's largest electric grids a real-time readout that pinpoints "hotspots" using what it calls "geospatial memory."

"Our installation provides situation intelligence to California ISO," said vice president of Space-Time Insight, Steve Ehrlich. "We provide the monitoring capabilities that allow grid operators to identify, analyze, and act in real-time."

California ISO uses
new 80-foot wide visualization display driven by Space-Time Insight's analytics.

California ISO manages 80 percent of the state's grid for its local utilities over 25,000 miles of power lines that provide over 286 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. The complexity and sheer magnitude of the data streams provided to operators had previously overwhelmed conventional computing techniques, according to Ehrlich, leading to a damage-control mentality.However, by visualizing the vast amounts of streaming sensor data in real-time, the 80-by-6.5 foot wall of geospatial-memory allows operators to pinpoint hotspots before they become problems--diverting resources to head-off potential catastrophes before the materialize.

"Operators were already overwhelmed by their traditional data streams and viewed the additional resolution provided by smart meters as a problem, but with our geospatial technology for analyzing real-time data we have been able to provide quick actionable information to operators," said Ehrlich.

Operators already had multiple large screen monitors on their desks, but can now divert the output from any of their displays to the 80-foot wide wall-of-visualizations for other operators to see. The 80-foot visualization display also constantly tracks the output from all the different generation sources--from conventional hydroelectric to solar- and wind-farms--displaying their varying real-time outputs as currents swirl, clouds pass over and breezes blow, respectively.

Applications simultaneously running include Market Intelligence, Grid Intelligence, Renewable Integration and Crisis Intelligence, detecting and predicting in real-time the economic efficiencies, maximizing grid reliability, optimizing power source utilization, as well as predicting the course of environmental anomalies such as brush fires. The environmental visualizations, for instance, integrate inputs from Cal Fire (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) showing areas already burned, with infrared sensors that show progress of fires still burning, with sensor data from wind-speed detectors to predicts the trajectory of fires and determine which transmission lines are at risk.

As a part of California ISO's Market Redesign and Technology Upgrade initiative, Space-Time Insight's geospatial algorithms provide both real-time and day-ahead predictions aimed at optimizing grid performance.
Space-Time Insights provides its geospatial visualizations by virtue of partnerships with Accenture, Cisco, IBM, Oracle and SAP.

The company is already working with the oil and gas industry to add real-time visualization and predictive analytics to their operations, but its next frontier is the telecommunications industry.

"Telecommunications is remarkably similar to power distribution," said Ehrlich. "Instead of households, the users are cell-phones subscribers and instead of power lines they have cell-phone towers and backhaul networks, but otherwise all our apps should translate over."
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