How AI is changing the playing field in the energy sector

By Jordan Cullis, ‎Country Manager, South Pacific, Milestone Systems

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is redefining the future of energy, bringing new ways of learning and deep analysis to a vast range of services.

It is changing the way we live and work – these days, every connected device, machine, website and IP-related asset in the company is capable of recording useful data which can then be harnessed and used as a tool for business success.

While a host of ‘obvious’ data collection points exist in an energy organisation, collected data from the company’s IP surveillance cameras remains an untapped source.

Enhanced security of premises using recorded data from video technology remains a critical part of any advanced security strategy and brings a host of productivity initiatives and opportunities, cost efficiencies and new offerings.

With the increased capabilities brought by AI, video analytics is arriving at a point where it can perform a number of beneficial tasks that will have a big impact on security, safety and efficiency (whether that might be a hydropower station, substation, energy retailer or any other energy facility).

New, better brains lead to greater accuracy

Facial recognition is a case in point, with 99.9 per cent instead of 95 per cent accuracy rate against conventional sources, according to IHS Markit.

Faster, more efficient and accurate means of identifying staff and visitors to a site provide a good base for digital solutions. This allows an individual to instantly access a database of information on that person and sound alerts if there are security issues attached to their presence at a certain part of the facility.

In addition to facial recognition, a surveillance solution built around advanced video management software (VMS) continues to enhance security in premises. From identification of cars (even if the licence plates have been changed) to mapping out foot traffic within a facility, companies need to ensure duty of care to employees but still maintain ultimate control over the company assets.

Video footage can now be subject to access control protocols in the same manner that doors and certain areas of the facility are kept ‘off limits’, making sure that footage of sensitive areas can only be accessed by high-level administrators. Staff and facilities can be monitored at a much higher level than ever before, but sensitive data can be kept safer than was previously possible.

Advanced video analytics can also map out foot traffic of employees in a facility and allow for deep learning to be applied to that mapping and foot traffic. Such analysis can lead to insights on employee behaviours, mapping of inefficient workplace practices, unsafe movement throughout the plant or facility, and much more.

Improved capabilities, better efficiency

Having improved capabilities allow a facility to enhance their operations, sometimes in areas that might not be directly connected to security.

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) is a case in point. Using their open-source, IP-based VMS and network of IP cameras to detect and monitor water levels in six hydropower sites has led to a 35 per cent saving in manpower and labour costs. It has also potentially saved lives, as the open-platform VMS allows the solution to be linked to an alarm system that sounds when water levels drops in certain areas, and warnings can be sounded before water gates are opened, preventing the potential loss of lives as people fish down-river.

The gateway to a brighter future

Open software platforms will allow a facility to add more cameras, as well as offer the flexibility to scale around within the facility, with the ability to integrate and embed a wide range of third-party applications and business systems directly.

This provides benefits for companies in the energy sector, allowing them to add on more surveillance hardware while integrating it seamlessly with a centralised system.

It is just the beginning. Enhanced security, deep learning on employee movement, the integration of security and business tools, and a never-ending array of new analytics capabilities will drive an efficient VMS to become a core part of any energy company’s security plan.

This will enable the business to experience continued productivity benefits in the long-term.

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