BLOCKCHAIN MEETS ENERGY COMPANIES
How might we help utility companies share line workers during storms in an open and immutable ledger system to maximize efficiency?
"A digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically and publicly." -Definition of Blockchain
At the IDEO Colab, many energy companies expressed a need for a better resource sharing system when storms.
I conducted interviews with energy company employees, synthesized and visualized the research. I was also the experience designer for the product we developed by working with the developers on the team to show the most valuable tools for the product and how the workers would use the tools.
That energy companies have a bidding system to temporarily acquire resources from other companies in disaster events.
They make money off such transactions.
Our team had access to experts from, Exelon Southern Company, Duke Energy, and Baltimore Gas and Electric. I chose to use interviews as our research method base on our 3 day timeline. We needed to gather as much understanding and insight about the process as fast as possible.
INTERVIEW KEY QUOTES
"This[Energy companies] is a co-op. It’s a scenario where we are all altruistic to help each other."
-Jessica Hamm Emerging Tech, Duke Energy
"The single greatest point of inefficiency is lack of preparation while the sun is still shining."
-Dennis Hoover, Principal Technology Innovation Officer at Exelon
"The damage assessment scouts can only document so much. When the crew actually arrives, they might find a larger problem than expected and not have the right tools or training. Then the crew can’t update that information anywhere -- they’d have to call somebody to call somebody to call somebody."
-Ron Osborn, Development Assignments at Duke Energy
Companies want to keep the feel-good aspect of sharing crews and have no interest in a capitalization system.
There is miscommunications when resources are being allocated before, during and after the storm.
Help utility companies communicate better to share and deploy lineworkers to areas of greatest need.
Better data about what’s happening on the ground and where. In addition, this data would be great for future planning.
There are many intersections of technology and design that could be improved on when energy companies convert to storm mode. So many in fact, that I developed a scenario to highlight the different points in the process that could use new or integrated communication technology.
Light bulbs indicate tech/design communication interventions to study in the future.
Interviews and diagramming the current system helped us develop a persona to focus our user.
WHO WE ARE DESIGNING FOR:
We prototyped with blockchain technology to create an immutable ledger of locations and damage assessment. This damage assessment app helps the scouts with initial assessment and then for the lineworkers for a reassessment
KEY FEATURE: Shared Ledger of Location
Goal: For safety and resource allocation
The app tracks location and incidences and uploads to a blockchain and all involved parties have access to this secure history.
Extremely useful in case of investigation by OSHA, unions or a partner company questioning hours and conditions.
"Blockchain makes it like a blackbox for people. That information can not be destroyed."
-Junning Tong, Blockchain Developer at NASDAQ
“Storm Matthew was a huge impact of $100 million dollars from lodging to food, fueling and more. If we could have shaved even one day off of that we could have saved $10-20 million.”
- Ron Osborne, Development Assignments at Duke Energy