Nationwide Survey Finds Utilities Lack the Analytics Needed to Improve Grid Resiliency In a Time of Extreme Weather

Out of 100 utilities surveyed in an NV5 Geospatial study, only one-third are using locational data and 3D modeling to assist with evaluating asset health, preventing outages and managing vegetation

Hollywood, Fla., January 14, 2021 – NV5 Geospatial, powered by Quantum Spatial, North America’s largest geospatial data firm, today announced results of a recent survey showing that most utility companies are not taking advantage of advanced data and analytics to improve resilience and mitigate risk. The “Geospatial Analytics, Resilience and Extreme Weather Readiness” survey of more than 100 utilities from across the United States revealed that even though almost all utilities have wildfire and storm mitigation strategies in place, only about one-third are using locational data and 3D modeling to assist with evaluating asset health, preventing outages and managing vegetation.

“In 2020 alone, 30 named Atlantic storms caused almost $40 billion in damages, while California experienced a record drought that resulted in rolling blackouts and spawned five of the six largest wildfires in history.  These unpredictable challenges are difficult for utilities to manage, as are more predictable problems, such as vegetation growth around critical infrastructure,” said Eric Merten, vice president and general manager, Commercial Markets at NV5 Geospatial. “Advanced data and analytics offer a proven way to improve risk mitigation and build on utilities’ GIS investments. By taking a ‘collect once, use multiple times’ approach, utilities can cost-effectively use lidar and 3D modeling to proactively monitor and manage the grid, promoting resilience in the face of extreme weather events and more common root causes of outages.”

Survey findings include:

  • Utilities said they have put comprehensive strategies in place to reduce risk from storms (89%) and fire (68%) (see figure 1). But even though 66% said they use data to analyze risk from fires and storms, only 39% rely on locational data and 3D modeling as part of the process.
  • The largest sources of outages, aside from the event itself, are vegetation management (56%) and aging infrastructure (53%).
  • Factors that drive utility wildfire and storm risk mitigation include worker safety (80%) customer safety (76%) and managing customer expectations (60%).
  • Of the technologies available for managing risk, fewer than half currently use transmission siting (40%), geological hazard mapping (31%) or 3D modeling of substations (23%). Another 24% of utilities surveyed indicated they use no technologies at all.
  • Less than half of survey respondents currently use lidar, with investor-owned utilities (IOUs) adopting the technology at the highest rate (53%) compared to only 16% of cooperatives.
  • More than 50% said the primary benefits of using 3D modeling for asset health, outage prevention and vegetation management included improved safety for workers and customers, asset management and outage restoration outcomes, as well as less risk of fire and costly outages

The survey was conducted Fall 2020 by Zpryme with representatives from more than 100 utility companies.

For full details, download the “Geospatial Analytics, Resilience and Extreme Weather Readiness” survey.

About NV5 Geospatial
NV5 Geospatial, powered by Quantum Spatial, is North America’s largest provider of geospatial services, providing end-to-end solutions and insights to organizations that need geospatial intelligence to mitigate risk, plan for growth, better manage resources and advance scientific understanding. We combine the widest array of advanced remote sensing technologies with proprietary processes, analytics tools, algorithms, and analysis tailored to meet our clients’ needs. For more information visit, join us on LinkedIn or follow us on Twitter @nv5geospatial.

About NV5
NV5 Global, Inc. is a leading provider of compliance, technology, and engineering consulting solutions for public and private sector clients supporting infrastructure, utility, and building assets and systems. The Company primarily focuses on six business verticals: testing, inspection & consulting, infrastructure support services, utility services, buildings & program management, environmental health sciences, and geospatial technology services. NV5 operates out of more than 100 offices nationwide and abroad. For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at Also visit the Company on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Vimeo.