The volume, speed and variety of data available today are overwhelming. Think about the many types of data we are bombarded with – financial data, environmental data, medical data, cybersecurity data, social network data and much more. What do we do with all this information and how do we make sense of it and get the most value from it?
The issue of “big data” is gaining momentum as access to data increases and is available in forms that can’t be processed or analyzed using traditional models. With the ability to store more data than ever before, businesses find themselves data rich and information poor. They are struggling with how to maximize the value from the data they’ve collected and how to store, manage and use it.
With the advent of the smart grid, AEP can collect data and monitor and manage operations more effectively. For example, we use the data from grid management technologies to help us detect and diagnose equipment issues so we can perform maintenance before a failure occurs.
Customers can use the data from smart meters to make more informed decisions about how and when they use energy. Our employees use data to help us understand what our customers want so we can serve them better. If we don’t develop a better understanding through the use of big data, we may not extract the most value from our technology investment, miss an opportunity to improve our business or, worse, risk being blindsided by potential problems.
AEP is among seven Central Ohio companies participating in the Columbus Collaboratory, a partnership across multiple industries to help companies tackle key technology challenges including “big data” and cybersecurity. The Ohio Third Frontier Commission approved a state grant with an estimated cost of $5 million to support the initiative, which is supplemented by $21 million of private funding. AEP is contributing $4 million over the next four years. This innovative project is a collaborative effort to drive economic growth and development.
We are expanding our ability to analyze the many different types of data sets we collect. This is helping us identify trends as well as indicators for improvement. For example, it can help us understand how the size of a house can be a factor in a customer’s decision to participate in energy efficiency programs. Big data can also help us project weather, enabling us to better plan for it. It also gives us greater precision around decision-making. But we are still in the learning phase of understanding and leveraging the benefits of big data to support our business.
Big data can also exacerbate concerns regarding cybersecurity and privacy. As we learn more about and use big data in our business, we will remain diligent in ensuring that protections are in place to continue the same high level of protections necessary to maintain the security of our operations and trust of our customers.